HALLANDALE BEACH, FL, May 13, 2022 – While Triple Crown fans await next Saturday’s Preakness, Belmont Park launches it’s graded stakes season tomorrow. Betting man doesn’t live by classics alone.
So, count them, five graded stakes, topped by the Grade 1 Man o’ War and the return of defending Eclipse Turf Champion Yibir who crossed the pond on Monday.
Meanwhile, good news for Belmont Stakes fans as the connections of Kentucky Derby shockster announced they want a fresh horse into the mile and a half test. Saturday’s co-featured Peter Pan has a history rich in Belmont Stakes prep tradition.
As for tomorrow, the New York Racing Association’s Cross Country Pick-5 is staying right there in Elmont. The sequence is composed of the graded stakes, going as the 3rd, 5th, 8th,9th, and 10th races.
The Eclipse champion has already shown an affinity for the Elmont lawn, taking the Jockey Club Derby here in 2021. Regular partner William Buick will guide him through his four-year-old debut, Charles Appleby will tighten the girth on the Godolphin runner.
To get the horseplayers out there prepped, we’re providing a handicapping look-in on all five graded events:
G3 VAGRANCY Race 3
Interesting that three of the five races in the sequence boast a five and two six-horse fields, but Pick 5 players may have to spread, anyway. Trust us, these races are tougher than they appear at first glance.
The Skinny: Bella Sofia is fastest on paper and out of the gate and shown to be very comfortable racing outside fillies. She’s in post five, the “extreme” outside.
After that, it’s a jump ball between Frank’s Rockette and Miss Brazil. The former missed with a closing place effort which could have gone the other way had her rider gotten busy earlier.
When third to an undefeated filly and Bella Sofia last on JUN 6, Miss Brazil broke through prior to the start, made a solid midrace move and a laudable show finish.
DESERVING FAVORITE: Bella Sofia (4-5)
WIN-VALUE PLAY: course and distance loving Frank’s Rockette to win at 5-2) or greater
EXOTICA: Key-boxing exacta Frank’s Rockette with the favorite and LAY-1 returnee looking to rebound, Miss Brazil (4-1)
G3 RUNHAPPY Race 5
The Skinny: Conceivably, four of the six have a good chance. Whoever that might be, there is no standout and a looming spread for the horizontally inclined.
MOST PROBABLE WINNER: Officiating (4-1) if he gives a rebound effort similar to his score in the G3 Tom Fool. (Saffie Joseph Jr. said he ran him back too soon following that big-figure run).
WIN-VALUE PLAY: Mr Phil (6-1) was much improved as a dual winner following the Rob Atras claim. His figures are competitive and outside drawn advantageous having proven can win without the lead.
It’s asking a lot and losing Carmouche to the speedy type but the reward is commensurate with the risk, at 9-2 or greater.
EXOTICA: Exacta and Trifecta key-boxes of Officiating with Mr. Phil, the speedy Chateau (5-2), and talented but enigmatic Repo Rocks (3-1).
Grade 1 MAN O’ WAR Race 8
The Skinny: Have you noticed how Godolphin runners never seem to lose anymore? Well don’t look now but there back, and bringing a champion to a grass fight. Even though he runs late, Yibir is nothing less than brilliant. A G2 winner at York, he shipped to Belmont last fall and took the Jockey Club Derby en route to a Breeders’ Cup Turf victory and a title. At 4 this winter he just missed in the G1 Dubai Sheema Classic and prepped for today at York with a placing in Betfair Jockey Club the G2, a race he appeared to need. Charles Appleby will have him spot on for today’s 11 furlongs.
Gufo was powerful and sharp, taking Gulfstream’s G2 Pan American in his five-year-old debut on Florida Derby day. We’ve never seen him that good; it’s Clement and Rosario, of course.
TICKET TOPPERS: Yibir (1-1), Gufo (7-5)
WIN-VALUE PLAY: Either of the above, at early line odds or greater. If not, Pasadena.
EXOTICA: Exacta and Trifecta part-wheel Yibir and Gufo with each other and Pan Am runnerup Abaan (9-2)
G2 PETER PAN Race 9
The Skinny: It’s difficult reconciling just where some of these three-year-old are at in their development, many showing promise and disappointment. We’re taking the colt with the better company lines and has been pointed here since a solid fourth-place run in the Blue Grass.
TICKET TOPPERS: Golden Glider (4-1), Electability (7-2), We the People (3-1), Set Sail (7-2)
WIN-VALUE PLAY: Golden Glider to win at 4-1 or greater
EXOTICA: Four-horse exacta box in wide open one-turn nine furlongs. Trifecta key Golden Glider first and second with the rivals listed above
G3 BEAUGAY Race 10
The Skinny: After making several passes, we still left all seven runners in with a chance, mostly because the best of them are better than Grade 3 level and starting their campaigns. Whose connections wants it, or needs it, is a best guess scenario. Rougir (1-1) is a Grade 1 winner and Chad is 28% efficient with layups of 90 days +. But we’re sure he’d love to get that first graded U.S. stakes win with Lemista (5-2). Plum Ali (9-2) won recent prep for this at Aqueduct, a very useful tightener, and seeks third straight beneath Manny Franco.
TICKET TOPPERS: Rougir, Lemista, Plum Ali
WIN-VALUE PLAY: Lemista to win at 5-2 or greater
EXOTICA: Exacta Wheel Rougir and Lemista with each other and Plum Ali second. Exacta Box: Rougir and Lemista. Cold Exacta: Rougir over Lemista. Superfecta Key-Wheel Rougir, Lemista, and Plum Ali first and second, with each other and ALL runners third and fourth
Thrift Ticket Pick-5: 2.4.5 // 220.127.116.11 // 3 // 5 // 1.2.4 — $18
Per usual all exotic bets at minimums available, win-value plays at $2 minimum. Multiple horses in any category are graded in the order listed.
this is a live column and will be updated