Today’s feature sprint is very interesting, which is to say difficult. Two classy horses are returning off extended layups, several are aged old pros, while others are returning first time for the outfits that traditionally dominate this kind of event.
The most likely suspects among them and the Rick Dutrow coupling of Strummer and Unrequited (5-2), Starforaday (4-1), and the old pro My Cousin Matt (9-2).
The 9-year-old former stakes winner, “Matt” makes his debut for the Levine barn, a profitable 28 percent effective with new acquisitions. Nicely freshened by the new connections, he likely was reserved for this meet, having compiled a 3-for-7 record over big sandy. Always versatile, he can stalk from close range or kick from off the pace. His style, and the presence of Eibar Coa, fits today’s dynamic nicely.
Strummer returns to Belmont (2-for-9) after winning his first start for Dutrow, a nifty 30 percent with repeaters. That 5-½ furlong event can only sharpen his speed for this, meaning he could repeat but certainly help set the table for his late-running mate. Unrequited is also looking to repeat. However his last start was 354 days ago. But he has won fresh in his career and Dutrow is 24 percent effective with returnees off layups of 90 days or more.
Starforaday, going first time for Gary Contessa, a profitable 25 percent with new acquisitions. The 5-year-old is returning from a 197-day layoff after receiving a “pulled up lame” comment in his final start before today. That effort came in a Keeneland allowances after beating optional claimers at Saratoga in a lifetime best performance. Note that he returns under the allowance conditions here and is not up for sale, even though the “lame” comment can be a way to big profits when winning trainers get their horses right. Don’t believe Contessa capable of embarrassing himself if he didn’t think his horse was fit and ready.
Taking My Cousin Matt to win at 7-2 or more and keying him in exactas first and second with his main rivals here. Trifecta players add El Bandito Rojo (4-1) to your mix.
Running Totals: (201) 65-43-22. Total Dollar Return: $405.60 [win selections only]