When you train almost 200 head, you’re going to wind up in spots where you’ll have yourself to beat. And when that trainer is Todd Pletcher, it will happen more often than not, especially when big money’s on the line.

Pletcher saddles the first and second choices in today’s Grade 2 Sheepshead Bay Handicap at 11 furlongs on the Belmont inner turf course. It would be hard to defeat one of them, much less both. They will go uncoupled in the wagering.

Honey Ryder (8-5) is a most worthy favorite. While she never got untracked vs. males in Dubai, she now returns to her home base and, most significantly, at her most effective distance. There aren’t many distaffers than can compile a 5-for-8 slate going this far.

Honey Ryder holds a class edge, is consistently fastest on performance figures, and attracts Garrett Gomez. There should be an honest pace for her to run at, even at a marathon route.

Part of that pace should come from mate Safari Queen (5-2), with regular stable rider Johnny Velazquez. But this five-year-old mare’s speed is tactical. She can stalk from close range until ready or set a controlled pace. Her figures keep improving and she’s a serious threat to the favorite on her ‘A’ race. The difficulty is how to take any money from this match-up.

Betting Honey Ryder to win, no price restrictions, and an exacta box with Safari Queen. We’ll try to spice things up, keying Honey Ryder first in trifectas, with Safari Queen and longshot (10-1) La Dolce Vita second and third. The Mark Hennig trainee draws inside with Edgar Prado and comes out of a Calder key race that produced two winners from three subsequent starters.

Running Totals: (29) 12-8-7 [does not reflect Friday's results]. ROI: $70.00 (based on win selections)