This Saturday, a field of 14 runners will go to post in the 145th edition of the Belmont Stakes. First held in 1866, the Belmont is the oldest of the Triple Crown races besting the venerable Kentucky Derby (first held in 1875) by nearly a decade. The race is named for 19th century stock market magnate August Belmont, Sr. and was originally run at the Jerome Park Racetrack in the Bronx. The Belmont Stakes is traditionally called “The Test of The Champion” or “Run for the Carnations” because the winning horse is blanketed with white carnations. When you hear the sounds of “New York, New York” being played for a crowd of over a 100,000. Hoist your “Belmont Breeze” in a toast to honor the runners who have travelled the long road to test their skills.
Belmont Park Weather Forecast — The National Weather Service says there’s up to a 90 percent chance of rain all day Friday and Friday night, and over an inch could fall. On Belmont Stakes day, the hourly outlook says the rain probability tapers off from 90 percent at 4:00 a.m. to 50 percent by 9:00 a.m. High temperatures: 66 degrees on Friday, 76 degrees on Saturday. It’s possible the sun could come out Saturday afternoon.
Race #5 – Mdn Sp Wt – 1 mile – 1:52 p.m. ET
#6 – Howie’s Tiz (7-2) = Joel Rosario in the irons for trainer Bruce Levine. Second time off the shelf, and he was a beaten favorite last time out. Sports some great mud numbers, and with the forecast looking ugly. I think his breeding will help his causes, and should be an off-the-pace player.
Race #6 – The $150,000 Easy Goer – 1 1/16 – 2:34 p.m. ET
#9 – Irsaal (4-1) = Irad Ortiz in the saddle for Kiaran McLaughlin, and this gelding is 2/2 at Belmont with wins, and 2/3 ITM going over soft ground. 3rd off the layoff, and his breeding looks to excel on wet tracks. I am going to box him with #2 – Power Broker, and my win money will be on Irsaal.
Race #7 – The (G-2) True North Handicap – 6f – 3:15 p.m. ET
#6 – Sage Valley (5-2) = Rajiv Maragh in the driver’s seat for Rudy Rodriguez, and he has been taking some bad press as of late. I think he will quiet the critics in here, as he goes for five-in-a-row making the second off the shelf move. 3/3 ITM at Belmont, and 2/2 with wins over a wet track.
Race #8 – The (G-1) Just A Game – 1 mile on the turf – 3:58 p.m. ET
#4 – Dayatthespa (6-1) = J.J. Castellano in the saddle for Chad Brown. Castellano jumps ship off #1 Hungry Island, and his mount is 1/1 at Belmont on the weeds. Second off the shelf, and been working steady on the Belmont green. This New York-bred looks to have an up-close style, and if the turf is soft or yielding, it may be the spot to be. I am going to box her with #1 – Hungry Island, and the very tough #2 Stephanie’s Kitten.
Race #9 – The (G-2) Woody Stephens – 7f – 4:41 p.m. ET
#11 – Let Em Shine (3-1) = Edwin Maldonado in the irons for Adam Kitchingham. This may be one of the fastest colts in the nation, and has the services of a rider who knows how to break from the gate. Makes the poly – dirt move, and this son of Songandaprayer can jump early and be gone ! – If he takes to the soft going, this race can be over about three steps from the gate. Catch him if you can ….
Race #10- The (G-1) Manhattan Handicap – 1 1/4 on the turf – 5:40 p.m. ET
#1 – Point of Entry (3-5) = John Velasquez in the irons for Shug McGaughey. Shug said he is training lights out, and is 4/4 ITM over the Belmont weeds. He comes in well rested, and there is a $1 million pick-four to play on this day. I would use him as my key, and use him over the following in gimmicks: #3 – Side Road (20-1), #4 – Real Solution (12-1), and #5 – Optimizer (6-1).
Race #11 – The 145th Running of the (G-1) Belmont – 1 1/2 – 6:36 p.m. ET
I think the pace should be honest, and with a wet, muddy, or sloppy track. Don’t get too far back as this tactical race plays very well for runners who can stalk very close.
#9 – Revolutionary (9-2) = Javier Castellano has the call back for trainer Todd Pletcher. Look back three races, and you will see that Castellano reeled off two straight wins with this son of War Pass. He is 2/2 ITM on wet tracks, and makes the third start off the layoff move. After skipping the Preakness with a solid effort in the Derby. I think his style fits well. I have always felt this is a rider’s race, and those who ply their trade in New York hold an advantage. His last three races have shown great maturity, and I think he will make his move at the half way point, and tactically maneuver his way down the sweeping stretch of Belmont.
#7 – Oxbow (5-1) = Gary Stevens makes his Belmont comeback for 77-year-old D. Wayne Lukas. They stole the Preakness by putting the field to sleep over the cuppy track that day. Oxbow is a son of Awesome Again, and has been showing a new dimension of maturity of grabbing the lead when needed, or stalking just off the pace. Hall of Famer Gary Stevens made his comeback after a seven year layoff, and “The Coach” D. Wayne Lukas has all the confidence in the world in their chances. The “Golden Boys” look to take the final jewel, and it doesn’t look out of reach.
#5 – Orb (3-1) = The post time favorite goes to post with red-hot Joel Rosario and Shug McGaughey. The New York connection is alive and well in this runner, and ran a questionable race in Maryland in the Preakness. Everyone can throw in a clunker, and I think this was his day. His works have been touted as good showings, and McGaughey would love to win this race where he has held court for years. Rosario will have to move him a bit sooner, and I don’t think this will be an issue. There is rain predicted, and if you saw the Derby. Your confidence must be brimming if you are a fan of this runner.
This day should be a great opportunity to find value. The weather is calling for a wet track, but Mother Nature has been known to pull some tricks from her sleeve. Be sure to get your E-Z Win Forms in hand early, and prepare for the $1 million dollar guaranteed pick-four, and the free Winning Ponies contest with great prizes for those who bring their “A” game. If the weather takes a turn in any direction, be sure to click the weather tab and receive a brand new set of E-Z Win Forms to adjust for changes. This is your one-stop-shop as everything is in real time, and you can get up to the minute weather, changes, scratches, and track reports. Winning Ponies brings the heat on the marquee days, and you don’t want to walk away from some great payoffs. Be sure to tune in to the Winning Ponies Internet Radio Show, as John Engelhardt breaks down the Belmont card with some of the best minds in racing! – Best of luck this weekend, and “may your winners be many and your photos be few!”