I liked this race better when it was 7 furlongs on the Widener course. However, it has remained a tough handicapping puzzle, a Grade 3 for older males, at 6 furlongs on the Belmont inner turf course.

The key to this is knowing what to do with First Defence (2-1), who owns a class edge but never has run on turf. His pedigree is acceptable, and trainer Bobby Frankel certainly has grass genes. But we must try to defeat him as the likely post time favorite.

Horses with the best turf form, and highest performance figures, are Salute The Count (4-1) and True To Tradition (9-2). Salute The Count went well in this race last year, obviously has been pointed for this, draws the rail and Prado, but probably prefers 5 furlongs .

True To Tradition is going very well for Scott Lake--not quite Linda Rice in turf sprints but very effective, indeed. The six year old gelding handle this trip very well and his late run style fits today’s race shape nicely. Of the early line choices, our guess is that this veteran can provide the best value in this group.

Taking True To Tradition to win at 7-2 or greater, keying him in exacta boxes with his main rivals here. Trifecta players can add Emirates to Dubai to their mix.

Running Totals: (220) 71-46-24. Total Dollar Return: $440.10 [win selections only]