BELMONT STAKES ANALYSIS
By Jessica Paquette
While it isn’t exactly reinventing the wheel to pick the favorite, #10 TACITUS looks very tough coming into this race and may be a useful horse to use as an anchor in some multi-race wagers. This horse is bred up and down to excel going a mile and a half and has both physically and mentally matured with every race. His performance in the Kentucky Derby was very solid and for a horse with his inexperience, he showed a lot of tenacity and finished very well. Since then, the focus has shifted to this race and he has been training well. Trainer Bill Mott puts his horses where he thinks they can win and this royally-bred colt has a good chance of adding a classic win to his resume. #9 WAR OF WILL is one of the feel-good stories of this year’s Triple Crown and his victory in the Preakness Stakes was one of validation and redemption. He has more than proven at this point that his bizarrely bad performance in the Louisiana Derby was a one off and providing the rigors of the Triple Crown have not taken too much of a toll on him, he should be right in the mix and is another one bred to appreciate the added distance. #5 BOURBON WAR was a disappointment in the Preakness Stakes but will lose the blinkers here and that may put him in better position. In hindsight, he was keeping really good company in Florida this winter and with a step forward could be a longshot to use in exotics. #4 TAX gets a jockey change to the red-hot Irad Ortiz, Jr. and while he has not proven himself yet to be a true Grade 1 sort of horse, his tactical speed could put him in a good position.
1. TIZ WICKED 2. BE LIKE BOSTON 3. GENERALIST
TIZ WICKED has been on the shelf since last fall but this barn often sends horses on a winter vacation and brings them back in sharp form. He has a ton of back class and showed plenty of ability on the local turf course last year. His worktab has been steady and if he is fit enough off of the bench he will be the one to beat. There is a great local pedigree on BE LIKE BOSTON – this gelding is out of a half-sister to some quality local horses including New England champion Victor Laslzo. He has been catching some tough fields since breaking his maiden last year and while he does need to make a step forward to earn that second career victory, he should continue to improve as he matures and develops and comes out for a trio of strong local connections. GENERALIST is trying to make it two in a row and his victory last time out was flattered when the runner-up wheeled back to win. He may have some momentum going after that victory last time out and while the surface is a question mark, he is bred to excel on either turf or dirt.
1. EXCLUSIVE SYMPHONY 2. PREFER DIAMONDS 3. ROCKIN RUTH
EXCLUSIVE SYMPHONY is one of the most consistent horses in this field and with the exception of one blemish, this classy veteran mare has been on the board in her last ten starts. She is the kind of horse that seems to show up and do her job every time and it is tough to find fault with that. She has effective tactical speed and should be a major threat on or near the front end.
PREFER DIAMONDS seems like a logical contender for live connections and is coming out of a good runner up effort. It seems like she has been catching some sharp, in form fields in her recent starts and should find this group within her scope.
ROCKIN RUTH has worked a bullet since her last race which was sort of a lackluster performance after three consecutive victories. She may have taken a step backwards after three strong performances and will be trying to rebound here. The bullet was an encouraging step back in the right direction.
1. FOX STRIKE 2. PANAMA PAPERS 3. WINTER HOUSE (GB)
FOX STRIKE looks like a logical contender in a relatively wide open race. He is out of the popular New York stakes mare Shesastonecoldfox and while he is starting to look a little stuck at this NW2L condition, he is getting some class relief here and is coming out of a competitive effort on synthetics. He broke his maiden on the turf and his natural speed should give him an edge. PANAMA PAPERS ran well enough last time out to warrant some consideration here and does have some upside making his second start off of a layoff. He seems to have a pattern of making a step forward in his second race back off of a freshening and should fit well with this field. WINTER HOUSE (GB) is fascinating here and while this race seems to be an obvious prep for a return to a steeplechase race in the summer, he has some class and should have no issue at all with this turf course. The layoff is a big question mark but these sort of layoffs are more common in steeplechase horses than in flat racing so it isn’t too unusual.
1. MANIPULATED 2. EL GRILLO
3. MATCH UP
MANIPULATED is a classy veteran and it is difficult to find fault with his consistent and competitive form. He has been facing some tougher competition in his recent races and may have a class edge here. Over the years, this horse has been very popular at the claim box and was a minor stakes winner as a juvenile. He should get a good stalking trip here and has proven to be versatile pace wise.
EL GRILLO was claimed out of a winning effort last time out and will try to make it two in a row. It was a very sharp, very game performance though he may have benefited from the off track. He has a solid resume and some back class though so looks to fit well with this group.
MATCH UP has been on the shelf since back to back wins in February at Parx and if he comes back to that sort of form, he’s a logical contender here. His recent work tab looks encouraging and he has some back class as well.
1. BRET’S AT CADDIES 2. THE ZIP ZIP MAN 3. INDIAN BUCKS
BRET’S AT CADDIES was much the best last time out and is proving himself to be a real horse for course. He gets over this turf course very well and seems to have rounded into winning form. He seems to ship and travel very well and figures to be a top contender here. He went toe to toe with some nice horses on the front end last time out and should be a big factor again on or near the lead. THE ZIP ZIP MAN is proven over this turf course and has a lot of upside in this spot. He returned to action off of a five month winter vacation last time out and while he ran competitively, he ran like a horse who may have needed a race back. He should be sharper in his second start back today and should fit well with this group.
INDIAN BUCKS is a better horse than his last race may indicate and he has done well on this turf course in the past. He showed some encouraging speed last time out and may have just needed a race off of the winter layoff.
1. ATTA KID 2. LOYALTY SPIRIT 3. ORCHESTRAL
ATTA KID was much the best on a muddy main track last time out and the switch to turf is interesting. He has turf influence on both sides of his pedigree and his one effort on the lawn was not bad at all. He is getting a little bit of a class test here but off of his recent, competitive and consistent form he could be a top threat. LOYALTY SPIRIT gets a pass for his last race and that looks like it can be thrown out entirely. He never looked comfortable over the muddy track and is a much more effective contender on turf than on dirt. Back on the grass, he should be able to return to form for live connections. He is a versatile sort of horse pace wise and should be in a good position. ORCHESTRAL is another one that seemed to lose most of his chance when the race came off of the turf. He has been much more competitive on the turf and synthetics and at one point was holding his own against tougher in California. He has some back class and comes out for a barn that always spots their horses very well.
1. BATTLE READY 2. BOWMAN’S BEAST 3. BAKU DANCER
BATTLE READY delivered handily last month locally and will be trying to make it two in a row for live connections with local ties. While he isn’t the most consistent, his speed seems very effective at this level and he should pose a legitimate gate to wire threat. BOWMAN’S BEAST is a hard knocking veteran who has earned nearly half a million dollars the old fashioned way – mostly racing in allowance and claiming company. He is a 15 time career winner and is a better horse than his last race may indicate. Prior to that, his form this year had been solid against respectable fields and he does have enough early speed that, if he fires, he should keep Battle Ready honest up front. BAKU DANCER seems like a real double threat – he runs well on both turf and dirt. He is switching back to the main track here after a sharp effort on the lawn at Mountaineer and has been keeping good company all year. He should get a good stalking trip here and will be right in the thick of things.
1. BURN THE BOATS 2. WICKED FREUD 3. BOPPIN ANDA WEAVIN
BURN THE BOATS could not have been more impressive in his turf debut. With only two starts under his belt, he may not have the experience edge that some of his rivals have but at this point and off of that last race, he could be any kind. He has an exceptional female family and with that pedigree, he will only continue to improve with physical and mental maturity. This will be a stiff class test for him – several horses here are stakes quality – and a good chance to see where he fits.
WICKED FREUD did everything right in his local debut last time out and was game in victory over a similar field. It was a big step in the right direction and only his second start of the year so he may be continuing to round into form. He has plenty of back class and has now proven that he can be effective on this course. BOPPIN ANDA WEAVIN deserves a little respect on his home turf course. He has been the model of consistency on this course and while most of his efforts did come against a notch below the caliber of this group, he is too consistent to overlook and has a lot of upside making his second start off a layoff after a really encouraging return effort last time out.
1. CREATIVE THUNDER 2. TWIN ENGINE 3. LYRICAL MELODY
CREATIVE THUNDER is a classy veteran coming out for a live barn and turned in a good showing in May. He was second by a head as the favorite but was under pressure early on the front end and fought back gamely. He has plenty of tactical speed and looks like he may have an easier time on the front end here. TWIN ENGINE is coming out of the same last race as Creative Thunder and has overall one of the more consistent records in this field. He is another veteran contender with a ton of back class – over $240k in earnings and eight career wins. He fits well here and should be able to hold his own.
LYRICAL MELODY is coming out of a competitive effort last time out and a repeat performance puts him in contention. Though not the most consistent, he has useful speed and should be a factor right out of the gate.
1. JEB 2. DESERT DOTTY 3. TROPICAL JOY
JEB stretches out to a mile here and while she has been primarily successful sprinting, two turns is within her scope and she should be able to move forward off of her last race. She has put together a really solid local career and has routinely held her own against some very tough, very talented state-bred fillies and mares. DESERT DOTTY has one major thing going for her here – she excels around two turns. While stretching out in distance is a question mark for several of her rivals, she is a proven competitor going long. She does prefer the turf but has been competitive on dirt as well.
TROPICAL JOY made every call a winning one last time out and will try for a repeat performance. With a sharp break, she may be able to again get brave on the front end and could be difficult to catch.
1. SAINT ALFRED 2. MAX’S LAST 3. BROKERS PRIZE
SAINT ALFRED has started to step out of the shadow cast by his remarkable stablemate Dr. Blarney and has put together an impressive resume of his own. He is a multi-generational homebred for Joe DiRico and his second dam, Dr. Margaret, was an exceptional Mass-bred racehorse and an even better producer.
MAX’S LAST is a fresh face here and it is always interesting to see some new horses in these state bred races. He is a half sibling to Desert Dotty who has been quite productive and broke his maiden in good fashion against open company at Mountaineer. With only one try so far against winners, it will be a good test of where he fits in the state bred stakes ranks. BROKERS PRIZE ran a good race last time out and has developed into a horse who can hold his own against these horses. A mile is well within his scope.
1. MULTIPLE 2. TAKAZAK 3. CATUGA COUNTY
MULTIPLE is an interesting horse trying the turf for the first time and with only a handful of starts, this well-bred gelding has plenty of room to improve. He is out of a winning mare with a quality female family and is bred up and down to move up on the surface switch. He has shown pretty little to date but the surface switch could wake him up. CATUGA COUNTY ran well last time out on the local turf and has an advantage over several rivals in that he has proven not only that he likes the turf but that he likes this particular course. He has had plenty of chances at this point to break his maiden but his recent form is encouraging and he seems to be heading in the right direction. First time starters are always interesting and TAKAZAK is worth a look. He has a quality pedigree – his dam was a hard-knocking New York runner who won 18 times and he is by the high-priced young stallion Mr. Sekiguchi. There is enough turf influence to make a case here and he could surprise.
1. TRUE PURPOSE 2. WINK AND A NOD 3. ROCKSHINE
TRUE PURPOSE is appealing here in that he has only one start and one win. At this point, he has done absolutely nothing wrong and could potentially roll right through his conditions. It looks like he showed some real talent in that debut effort and while he may still be green, it will be interesting to see how he progresses off of that race.
WINK AND A NOD is another contender who is coming into this race off of a maiden victory and will try for two in a row. Though it took him nine tries to find the winner’s circle, he had been holding his own against tough Florida competition and had shown plenty of ability before that victory. He seems consistent and should be a top threat in his first try against winners.
ROCKSHINE is a tough horse to key on top but off of solid recent form seems like a logical contender to use in the exotics. He has run well in both starts since returning off of a winter layoff and appears to be rounding more and more into form. He has one of the more consistent records of this field.
1. SHANGHAI DREAMS 2. LET’S GO BABY 3. OFFLEE IRISH
SHANGHAI DREAMS has been freshened since an average effort at Gulfstream Park in April and while she has not been the most consistent, she has some back class and should be effective at this level. She is relatively lightly raced and should be able to rebound off of that last effort. She seems most effective when she can secure the early lead and her speed may work to her advantage here. LET’S GO BABY is another one who still has plenty of room to develop and improve with only a handful of races. She turned in an average effort locally last time out but may have been compromised when her race came off of the turf and should be more effective here. She has yet to run back to her sharp maiden breaking debut performance but the ability is there and these connections have always been live locally. OFFLEE IRISH could be an interesting horse at a price. Her recent form has been average and she is relatively unproven on the turf but her dam was a very talented local runner and this race came up wide open.
1. GREAT PLAN 2. BLESSED AT MASS 3. TRUMPET MAN
Tough to argue with GREAT PLAN here – he has had two very sharp victories in a row and looks like he will be trying to make it three in a row. He does turf or dirt and seems to have hit his best stride. He does come from off of the pace and could benefit from more speed than he may actually get here.
BLESSED AT MASS was a physical standout last time out and just couldn’t overcome the off track. At this point, it is pretty clear he does not do well on an off track and he should be able to return to what had been very solid form back on a fast main track. He is better than that last race indicates and could offer some value.
TRUMPET MAN is a 17 time career winner and will be making his second start of the year. This hard knocking veteran will get my benefit of the doubt off of his seasonal debut last time out at Finger Lakes and at ten years old, he may have needed one off the bench and should be sharper here.
1. SHANGHAI GLORY 2. THE TWO NANCY’S 3. TAKIN IT EASY
SHANGHAI GLORY is going to need to improve after a poor performance last time out but she has been freshened since then and did have back to back victories prior to that performance. She is making a surface switch here after racing primarily on turf but her prior turf form, from limited attempts, was deceptively good. She may get overlooked in a wide open race and it is always worth remembering how well Dyn Panell can do on this turf course. THE TWO NANCY’S is a better horse than her last race may indicate and has been very effective and competitive on this turf course. In her better efforts, she is forwardly placed and should be a contender on or near the front end for live connections.
TAKIN IT EASY has had three starts this year so far and may be rounding into form off of a winter layoff. She has some natural tactical speed and in a race that has come up pretty light on pace, that could work to her advantage.
1. DIABLO’S DARLING 2. LIKEAGIRL 3. EMILIANA’S HOPE
DIABLO’S DARLING lost most of her chance when her race came off of the turf and a line can be drawn through that race. She is much better than that race indicates and this mare has developed into a true horse for the course on this turf course. Despite her consistent record on the lawn here, she tends to get overlooked and could offer some value here.
LIKEAGIRL is as consistent as they come and has put together a solid resume on this turf course. Her form this year on both turf and dirt has been solid and she seems to have rounded into competitive form for live connections. She fits at this level and seems to be a logical contender.
EMILIANA’S HOPE needs to do better than last time but I’m willing to overlook that last race, chalk it up to a bad day and instead look to what has been a really solid local resume. She has been very competitive on this turf course and off of what has been suspect recent form, she could offer some value if she can turn that around.
1. SON OF SANIBEL 2. SHACKLESON 2. JACK’S A WARRIOR
SON OF SANIBEL is going to try for two in a row after a well-timed ride earned him the win last time out. He is coming into this race in solid form and should benefit from plenty of speed. With several need the lead types in this spot, he should be able to capitalize if there is a pace collapse and could be a main danger from off of the pace.If you look up consistency in the dictionary, you may find a picture of SHACKLESON there. This gelding has hit his best stride, found his level of competition and just shows up and runs his race every time. While he will likely have some pressure on or near the lead here, he is tough to overlook and even tougher to leave off of a ticket.
JACK’S. WARRIOR comes out for a local jockey and trainer combination that were practically unbeatable here when we hosted a full meet. This gelding has been inconsistent but seems very capable at this level.
1. CONTRARITY 2, OHMYGOLLYMSMOLLY 3. RYOAN
CONTRARITY made every call a winning one on the main track in May when her race got rained off of the turf but she seems equally adept on either surface. She switched to the grass for the first time two races back and passed the test against a tough group at Laurel. Her speed makes her a top threat.
OHMYGOLLYMSMOLLY has an advantage over several rivals here in that she has run over and been competitive on this local turf course. Though she is returning off of a winter layoff here, she has shown she can fire off the bench in the past and her worktab at Finger Lakes has been encouraging. RYOAN comes out for a high percentage barn and has one of the most consistent recent records of this field – he’s been on the board in six of his seven tries this year. He should be able to get a piece of it if he takes to the surface.
1. DRIVER’S LICENSE 2. WISCONSIN 3. WEE BONNIE LASS
DRIVER’S LICENSE was very intriguing going into the last weekend of live racing but the thing that made her so interesting – the surface switch to turf – became irrelevant when the race came off the grass. With her pedigree, she stands to move up significantly on the turf and could be an interesting longshot.
WISCONSIN nearly got the job done on the main track last time out and while her turf debut two starts back was not good, she has a ton of pedigree and back class and made a huge step forward in her second start. She needs to prove she can handle the grass but off of a sharp last effort, live connections and a strong pedigree she warrants a look. WEE BONNIE LASS is tough to key on top since she has had plenty of chances to break her maiden at this point. However, she’s been competitive locally and while she was no match for the runaway winner last time out she could improve back on turf.
1. SUCCESSFUL SAINT 2. INDIAN’S GETUPNGO 3. SYDNEY’S MAGIC
SUCCESSFUL SAINT lived up to his name and was successful in earning his second career victory. This gelding, born in Saugus, Massachusetts, is a perfect two for two and just seems to be getting better and better as he physically and mentally develops. He is a big, strapping youngster and has shown some serious talent on the track so far. INDIAN’S GETUPNGO is a first time starter carrying on the legacy of the late George Brown who bred him alongside his wife, Arlene. He is out of Sociano’s Legacy, a New England champion who was a very talented and very precocious runner. This debut runner is worth a look. SYDNEY’S MAGIC has a lovely female family and is a half sister to several competitive horses.
1. DR BLARNEY 2. GRADY 3. THE DOC IS IN
DR. BLARNEY is a powerhouse and this fan-favorite Massachusetts-bred has assembled a really impressive resume with stakes wins against state-bred and open competition. Horses like this are a treat to watch so enjoy the show.
GRADY has assembled a really solid local career and is always right in the thick of things in these state-bred stakes races. It would be fitting for trainer Dylan Clarke to win the race named after Mr. Meso – the Clarkes campaigned Mr. Meso at the end of his career and since his retirement in 2011, he has been a beloved member of their family and a trusty stable pony. Mr. Meso was one of the greatest Massachusetts-bred runners in history and retired with an impressive 24 wins from 68 starts with over $470k in earnings.
THE DOC IS IN has always been a physically impressive, sporty looking sort of racehorse and he has continued to improve with age and maturity. He has shown he can win and be competitive against good state bred competition and can hold his own here.
Obviously, if DR. BLARNEY runs in this race instead of Saturday then he becomes the one to beat and is a superstar and a treat to watch.