Today’s featured fourth race at Belmont Park is a secondary allowances-optional offering few alternatives to the favorites Imagining (6-5) and second choice Tahoe Lake (2-1).

The favorite will be a very tough out. Shug McGaughey 4-year-old won his recent season’s debut and this is just a step up the class ladder before his return to the stakes ranks.

The last time he tried the division’s top turf runners, he finished second in the G1 Hollywood Derby at this 10-furlong trip. He retains his sharp recent form, given a half-mile breeze in :47, a bullet-best out of 45 runners. Ramon will ride.

Based on performance figures, however, Tahoe Lake deserves to be close second choice since he owns the fastest final figures, some by a fairly significant margin.

He’s been second twice and third in his three most recent starts in graded company including a close-up finish behind Simmard at Churchill Downs, that won coming back to win a Canadian graded event on the Queen’s Plate undercard last Sunday.

Trainer Ken McPeek is 24% effective with recent beaten favorites and turns the ride over to Julien Leparoux.

But given that this race is on the speed-favoring inner course, we’re giving Grand Rapport (5-1) a puncher’s chance to upset the choices. He’s really come to hand this season, as geldings at 5 often do, and has earned fairly competitive figures all season.

In his only start at this distance, Grand Rapport was severely hindered by a dawdling pace over off ground. Given today’s dynamics, he can be the one sitting the slow pace beneath new rider Rajiv Maragh.

Taking Grand Rapport to win at early line odds or greater and key boxing him first and second in multiple pools with the two favorites.


Running Totals: (1104) 340-214-166 Total Dollar Return: $2,342.90 [win selections only]