An interesting and diverse group in the Belmont Park summer finale even with a field of six signed on. It figures to be reduced to five since Just Whistle opted to run at Delaware on Saturday.
Two of the remaining five will vie for the favorite’s role; Chad Brown-trained Backyard Heaven (9-5) and hard-hitter Sunny Ridge, the 5-2 Shore Shipper who won the G3 Salvator Mile for Jason Servis recently.
But we will take any value offered on Todd Pletcher trainee Prince Lucky (7-2). On their ‘A’ efforts, ‘Heaven’, coming off a lengthy layup, and ‘Lucky’ are fastest on the Thoro-Graph scale. ‘Ridge’ is very close behind, but is much more consistent.
The best career race run by Prince Lucky was his Gulfstream Park season’s debut, winning the G3 Hal’s Hope at a similar distance off a 259-day break. Following that, he was a repeat winner of the G2 GP Mile.
Then the wheels came off for his next two starts. But rather than surmise that the issues necessitating his long layup are back, I plead guilty to the lean, with an explanation.
In his return to Belmont, where he won his only start there, taking the Easy Goer at 3, he caught a sloppy track not to his liking then suffered through a wide-throughout trip in the G1 Met Mile against a much tougher group than he meets here.
But he has more than class relief going for him. The pace will be a lot more reasonable, and presuming an honest surface, won’t have to fight a strong inside bias like he encountered Belmont Stakes day.
In this spot I will not take less than 5-2 ante post–as if any bettor has control over the computer’s final arbitraged estimate. Thinking about a win-place wager, since I’m willing to bet that either favorite won’t deliver.
YESTERDAY: Code of Honor ran great in his return, paying a value laden $4.20. In the Belmont Derby, a few things. Our choice didn’t have the easiest trip but finished in a way suggesting a better trip wasn’t going to get it done anyway. We hope Demarchelier, who pulled up lame, is relatively OK and makes it back to the races.
The longer O’Brien, Blenheim Palace ran better than his more favored mate despite spot action while he chased the pace throughout before tiring. Winning Henley’s Joy, an overlay, got the kind of trip you dream about. We were right about the Pennine Ridge prep but picked the wrong two to concentrate on. Third finisher Rockemperor finished with a flourish, looking like a potentially very good marathoner.