Better late than never: it’s Belmont Stakes day! There’s an excellent 12-race card at Belmont Park today, starting at 11:45 AM EDT. Coverage begins on Fox Sports starting at 11:30 AM, switching over to NBC at 3:00 PM. The Belmont Stakes will go as the tenth race, with a post time of about 5:42 PM. Here’s picks for all 12 races, plus some comments about each race’s top pick.
7, Holy Emperor: Takes a drop in class, racing for a claiming tag for the first time, and showed crucial early speed in his first start on grass.
1, Conglomerate/1A, Traffic Pattern
Race 2: Woody Stephens Stakes
4, Echo Town: He loves the short distances, having run a big race at Oaklawn Park two starts back, and winning an allowance at Churchill Downs last out. Should get a good trip right on the pace. The Asmussen/Santana trainer/jockey combination is always dangerous.
3, Mischievous Alex
6, Indian Pride: This’ll be her first start of the year, having finished third in a stakes race last fall. She was dazzling in her first win back in August, and raced well in that stakes after going off as the favorite. If she’s back to her old self, she’ll have no trouble with this field.
5, Forever Changed
7, Mrs. Danvers
Race 4: Pennine Ridge Stakes
1, Decorated Invader: In his season debut last out, he came from the clouds to win a stakes going away. The grass has not been favorable to closers as of late, but I don’t think a closer this good has run on the surface this meet.
3, Proven Strategies
4, Mr. Kringle
2, O’Trouble: Raced wide on debut last summer, but still closed well to just miss second. He returned to working out in mid-May, and has been working well getting ready for his return. Should be a good price.
7, Rare Stripe
5, The Angry Man
Race 6: Wonder Again Stakes
2, Sweet Melania: She’s going to be a giant favorite, but I’m not sure if she’s worth trying to beat. She’s the dominant speed in the race, so she’s going to get out there and set a very slow pace. From there, it could be impossible to catch her.
3, Highland Glory
4, Strongerthanuknow: Tries winners for the first time after a strong maiden win last out, when she went gate-to-wire. Looks like the dominant early speed, and will be tough to catch, as such.
8, My Sassy Sarah
11, Canarsie Angel
Race 8: Acorn Stakes
4, Casual: Undefeated in her short career so far, she lasted after being on the pace last out at Churchill Downs, and drew off to a sharp win. She’s stretching out to a mile for the first time, but the way she’s won her races, it makes me think she can go longer.
5, Glass Ceiling
Race 9: Jaipur Stakes
5, Stubbins: Closed well to finish third in his season debut last out, at Santa Anita Park. If he wins, it’ll be a close one, but he’s got enough of a punch late to make me believe.
4, Pure Sensation
Race 10: Belmont Stakes
1, Tap it to Win: Coming off an impressive gate-to-wire win against weaker in his last start, but the pace scenario could favor him. He’s got speed from the inside post, so if he’s able to set a slow enough pace on the straightaway, he might not get caught, and could pull off a big upset over favored Tiz the Law.
9, Dr. Post
8, Tiz the Law
3, Largent: Hasn’t finished worse than second in five starts, including a gutsy win on a tough pace last out at Gulfstream Park. I see some stakes wins in his future, but I’m sure he’ll take this allowance win for now.
6, Pillar Mountain
1, Talk or Listen/1A, Surprise Twist
4, Simply: Tries winners for the first time off an impressive maiden win at Sam Houston Park. Should be closing strongly from the back of the pack.
8, Turbo Drive
2, Crack Shot