It’s Fourth of July and that means its the Stars and Stripes Festival at Belmont Park! I’ve looked at all the races as well as some of the other stakes races around the country to prepare you for the big day!
- Los Alamitos:
- Los Alamitos Derby: While I look at Kentuckian as a very tough horse to get past, Pain and Misery was very impressive in his runner up finish in the Pat Day Mile. He then went on to win the Charles Taylor Derby at Albuquerque as his prep for this race. He also has a third place finish behind Firing Line in the Sunland Park Derby. Very live and can be at a price.
- Belmont Park:
- Victory Ride: In the Acorn, Promise Me Silver just went way to fast early to keep the lead in a pretty competitive race. With this step down in class, Promise Me Silver should get a nice run and coast away in style to open up the Belmont Park stakes card.
- Dwyer: One 3yo that I’ve been keeping my eye on this year is Blofeld. Winner of the Futurity at Belmont and the Nashua at Aqueduct, this Todd Pletcher trainee is three for three at New York and I doubt that Blofeld will lose in this spot with John Velazquez aboard.
- Belmont Derby: While I am excited for this race, it isn’t the most impressive of Belmont Derbys. I lean towards Startup Nation, a lightly raced 3yo. Chad Brown is tough to stop on the turf at Belmont and Startup Nation should relish the distance.
- Suburban Handicap: Tonalist is hard to stop at Belmont Park, but I know one horse that can. Coach Inge was very impressive on Belmont Stakes Day in the Brooklyn and looks like this spot will be nice.
- Belmont Oaks: Aidan O’Brien doesn’t send too many horses across the pond but the Boys of Ballydoyle have a live runner in Outstanding, a full sister to Magician, who really came alive as a 3yo. Outstanding won the Naas Oaks Trial last week and is in prime form. O’Brien doesn’t bring over a horse unless he knows that he will win. Colm O’Donoghue gets the call (50% in the money in the US over his career) on a horse who’s odds can easily rise. I respect Lady Eli and Spanish Queen, but Outstanding seems to fit here.
- Belmont Sprint: Before the scratches, I liked Bay of Plenty on the rail, but with him and The Big Beast out of the race, Private Zone is just too good.
- Pocono Downs:
- Sun Invitational: Today is a day I’ve been waiting for over the past few weeks. Not because of the thoroughbred stakes but because of the harness races. My favorite trotter Sebastian K makes his 2015 debut for Ake Svanstedt here and is much the best in this field. Gural Hanover is a horse that has a chance to upset the field though, going 1:51.3 in his qualifier.
- James M. Lynch: Yannick Gingras gets the call to drive for Ron Burke on Sassa Hanover, a very quick pacer. Tough to get past this favorite here.
- Max Hempt: Wiggle It Jiggleit and Wakizashi Hanover come out of the Pepsi North American Cup two weeks ago. Wakizashi Hanover was much the best and while Wiggle It Jiggleit may be the best horse in this field, but the small track of Pocono might not be the best fit for him.
- Ben Franklin: Having seen Foiled Again get beat in the TVG FFA by the champion Sweet Lou, I know he is beatable. I look to State Treasurer to pull off a win here. He comes out of a win in the Gold Cup at Mohawk two weeks ago.
- Earl Beal: The big race of the night is the Earl Beal, a prep for the Hambletonian. Two of Darrin Zocalli’s top horses for the Hambo are in this field, Pinkman and Uncle Lasse. Uncle Lasse has been riding in the shadow of Pinkman as a 2yo, but has really turned on the heat in Pennsylvania Sire Stakes action at Pocono. Uncle Lasse, my early Hambo pick, is ready to turn the tables on Pinkman and move up in the Hambo standings.
Outside of that, you have Louisiana Legends night at Evangeline downs, which has the Louisiana Legends Sprint, capped by the basically unstoppable Heitai. Going to be a jam packed 4th of July. Have a great holiday and enjoy the races!