Thursday, June 7, 2018

$1,500,000 Belmont Stakes (G1) – Belmont Park

Race 11 (Saturday, June 9, 2018: 6:46 p.m./ET; 3:46 p.m./PT)

This Saturday, the big, beautiful chestnut colt JUSTIFY looks to join the elite list of 12 other Triple Crown legends like AFFIRMED, CITATION, SEATTLE SLEW, SECRETARIAT, and AMERICAN PHAROAH. But nine other three-year-olds look to spoil the party for the undefeated JUSTIFY which poises the question, ‘Does anybody have what it takes to beat the Kentucky Derby (G1) and Preakness (G1) winner?:

#1 JUSTIFY, the son of the late SCAT DADDY, won the Santa Anita Derby (G1) in gate to wire fashion over a fast track before out-finishing 2017 two-year-old champion and Grade I winner GOOD MAGIC in the Kentucky Derby (G1) and Preakness (G1), both contested over wet tracks. With the rail draw, expect this guy to be forwardly placed in his quest for a prestigious Triple Crown score.

#2 FREE DROP BILLY is bred to love every step of this mile-and-a-half distance, being by Belmont Stakes (G1) winner UNION RAGS out of a GIANT’S CAUSEWAY mare. He flopped when finishing sixteenth over a sloppy track in the Kentucky Derby (G1) and is winless in four starts this year, but has in-the-money finishes in the BlueGrass (G2), Gotham (G3) and Holy Bull (G2). His recent form suggests he’ll need to pick up the pace but his breeding makes him a bit intriguing.

#3 BRAVAZO came flying late in the Preakness (G1) but had to settle for second, finishing a half-length behind #3 JUSTIFY at the wire. He is bred to be comfortable with racing the 12-panel distance, being by AWESOME AGAIN out of a CEE’S TIZZY mare. The last time this Calumet Farm homebred won, he defeated a large field in the Risen Star (G2). One to consider.

#4 HOFBURG is a half to Grade I winning mare EMOLLIENT and their mother, SOOTHING TOUCH, is by TOUCH GOLD, who defeated SILVER CHARM in the 1997 Belmont Stakes (G1). Breeding says this guy can run all day and keep in mind he got in some traffic trouble in his last start, the Kentucky Derby (G1), where he got stopped on the far turn before finishing up with good energy down the lane and galloped out strong. Main contender.

#5 RESTORING HOPE finished third in the Wood Memorial (G2) behind #8 VINO ROSSO and came back to run very poorly in the Pat Day Mile (G3) over a sloppy track on Kentucky Derby Day. His most recent poor performance may have been a result of a wet track he did not care for but unfortunately for him, wet weather is expected once again this Saturday. Will need to turn the tables on #8 VINO ROSSO and other top three-year-olds in this spot. Not going to be easy.

#6 GRONKOWSKI makes his U.S. debut and first start for trainer Chad Brown. Son of European sire LONHRO has won four races in a row, including a sharp victory in the 32red Burradon Stakes in Great Britain. Colt has yet to win a graded stake and is facing a whole new level of competition now. Looking elsewhere.

#7 TENFOLD is the most lightly raced runner in the field with just four career starts. The Steve Asmussen trainee came rolling late for third in the Preakness (G1), finishing just three quarters of a length behind JUSTIFY. The son of Belmont Stakes (G1) winner CURLIN has never won a stake before but will surely be content with stretching out in distance and has improved dramatically over time. He possesses plenty of raw talent. In with a shot.

#8 VINO ROSSO won the Wood Memorial (G2) before finishing ninth in the Kentucky Derby (G1) five weeks ago. Like many in here, his breeding (by CURLIN out of a STREET CRY mare) suggests a mile-and-a-half distance is well within his scope. Todd Pletcher conditions and he has won the Belmont (G1) three times, including last year with TAPWRIT. Wouldn’t discount.

#9 NOBLE INDY beat BRAVAZO in the Louisiana Derby (G2) at the Fair Grounds before finishing 17th of 20 in the Kentucky Derby (G1). The good news is you can be a bit forgiving of that last run considering he may have not liked the wet track on ‘Derby Day, but the bad news is the forecast calls for wet weather once again. He is another one bred to be fine with this twelve-furlong distance. The second Pletcher entrant.

#10 BLENDED CITIZEN has improved with age and racing experience. The son of PROUD CITIZEN comes off a decisive score in the Peter Pan (G3) over this track, stalking the pace before pulling away late to win by a length-and-a-half. Faces a lot tougher than what he defeated last time and may be a notch or two below the main contenders signed on. 


  1. #4 HOFBURG – Rapidly improving colt may be ready for a career best effort.
  1. #1 JUSTIFY – Rooting for with my heart, but betting against with my wallet.
  2. #8 VINO ROSSO – May relish the mile-and-a-half distance.

LONGSHOT VALUE PLAY: #2 FREE DROP BILLY – Breeding suggests distance is ok.


I’ll box my top three picks in an exacta and make a straight win bet on my top choice.

 BANKROLL PLAY ($50 Budget)

$5 Exacta Box: #1 JUSTIFY and #4 HOFBURG and #8 VINO ROSSO ($30).

$20 Win: HOFBURG

The post $1,500,000 Belmont Stakes (G1) – Belmont Park appeared first on TVG - HORSE RACING INSIDER.



Two-and-a-half minutes, give or take a few seconds. That’s how long it will take to find out if Justify will become thoroughbred racing’s 13th Triple Crown winner. And you can witness the possibility of history being made by watching and wagering on the entire 13-race card at Belmont Park this Saturday with TVG, America’s #1 horse racing network! First post is 11:35 am ET/8:35 am PT and the outstanding wagering menu includes a $500,000 guaranteed early Pick 5 pool (starting in race 1), a $500,000 guaranteed Pick 6 (race 6) and a $1,500,000 guaranteed late Pick 4 (race 8)! For exclusive TVG E-News analysis and selections for the $1,500,000 Belmont Stakes (G1), click here. For exclusive TVG E-News analysis and selections for the $1,200,000 Met Mile Handicap (G1), click here. For exclusive TVG E-News analysis and selections for the $1,000,000 Manhattan (G1), click here. For exclusive TVG E-News analysis and selections for the $750,000 Ogden Phipps (G1), click here.


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$750,000 Ogden Phipps (G1) – Belmont Park

Race 3 (Saturday, June 9, 2018: 12:47 p.m./ET; 9:47 a.m./PT)

Named after Ogden Phipps, one of the great breeders, owners and legends of the North American thoroughbred racing industry, this year’s ‘Phipps field features a field of eight high quality fillies and mares contesting eight-and-one-half panels around one turn. Let’s begin our handicapping analysis with the inside post position:

#1 UNBRIDLED MO recently defeated next out Grade I winner UNIQUE BELLA over a sloppy track at Oaklawn Park. The good news is the weather forecast calls for rain and this gal is two-for-two over the wet going. She is seven-for-ten lifetime and top trainer Todd Pletcher conditions. Plenty of things to like here.

#2 IVY BELL is the second Todd Pletcher entrant in the race. Five-year-old mare comes into this race fresh off a second place finish to #5 AMERICAN GAL in the Humana Distaff (G1). She’ll need to make up some ground on #5 AMERICAN GAL while racing farther than seven furlongs for the very first time. Not going to be an easy task.

#3 HIGHWAY STAR only lost by a length to #4 PACIFIC WIND two starts ago in the Ruffian (G2) and most recently ran second again in the Critical Eye Stakes for New York-breds as the even money favorite. In against open stakes company again here. A minor award may be her ceiling.

#4 PACIFIC WIND moved to trainer Chad Brown’s barn in the winter and has thrived since. In two starts for Team Brown, the daughter of CURLIN won an allowance race by a whopping eight lengths and came back to defeat #3 HIGHWAY STAR in the Ruffian (G2). This is the toughest group she has ever had to face, but she is three-for-four on dirt.

#5 AMERICAN GAL also makes her third start off a layoff. Her most recent effort was a beauty, sitting close to the pace before pulling clear to win by two lengths in the Humana Distaff (G1). Keep in mind this filly is versatile, as she possesses natural front-running speed but does not necessarily need the lead. Also note that she holds a victory over this track, having won the Victory Ride (G3) by almost five lengths last July. Major player.

#6 ABEL TASMAN made her first start in seven months last time out and got an undesirable trip. She broke poorly, had to check heading into the first turn, and was forced to try to close into a slow pace. There is reason to believe she will take a major step forward with a better trip and a race under her belt this year. In 2017, she finished second in the Breeders Cup Distaff (G1) and also won a trio of Grade I races, including the Kentucky Oaks (G1), which was run over a sloppy track. The one to beat with her best.

#7 UNCHAINED MELODY makes her second start off an eight-and-a-half month layoff for trainer Brian Lynch, who strikes at a 14% win clip with his trainees second start off the shelf. However, her first race back was a disappointment, running last in the field of five in the Ruffian (G2). Blinkers off today for the winner of the Mother Goose (G2) last year.

#8 BERNED won the Serena Song Stakes over a sloppy track at Monmouth Park last month, but the majority of her graded stakes tries have resulted in off the board finishes. Appears outclassed.


  1. #1 UNBRIDLED MO – Loves the mud and loves to win.
  2. #6 ABEL TASMAN – One to fear most.
  3. #4 PACIFIC WIND – In peak form.

LONGSHOT VALUE PLAY-#5 AMERICAN GAL – Grade 1 winner merits respect.


I’ll box my top three picks in exactas and make a straight win bet on my top choice.

BANKROLL PLAY ($50 Budget)

$5 Exacta Box: #1 UNBRIDLED MO and #4 PACIFIC WIND and #6 ABEL TASMAN ($30).

$20 Win: #1 UNBRIDLED MO









The post $750,000 Ogden Phipps (G1) – Belmont Park appeared first on TVG - HORSE RACING INSIDER.

$1,000,000 Manhattan (G1) – Belmont Park

Race 10 (Saturday, June 9, 2018: 5:40 p.m./ET; 2:40 p.m./PT)

Annually the appetizer before the Belmont Stakes (G1) entree, the $1,000,000 Manhattan (G1) has attracted a large field of 13 older turf horses set to clash at the mile-and-a-quarter distance. Let’s dive into this race, analyze this quality-filled group, and hopefully win some money:  

#1 ROBERT BRUCE (CHI) is an undefeated seven-for-seven and a four time Group 1 winner in Chile. His first U.S. race for (new) trainer Chad Brown resulted in a victory in the Fort Marcy (G3), where he finished three-quarters of a length ahead of #13 SPRING QUALITY that afternoon. The best in here are even tougher than what he saw last time, so this will be the acid test, but an undefeated horse coming from a top barn should be taken seriously.

#2 ONE GO ALL GO lost by a length to #3 HI HAPPY in the Man O’War (G1) and was defeated by the aforementioned rival three starts ago as well. He’ll need to find a way to turn the tables on that rival. The positive is that #3 HI HAPPY is considered to be one of the main dangers in this race, meaning #2 ONE GO ALL GO can compete with the best of ‘em signed on in here. Contender.

#3 HI HAPPY (ARG) has won a pair of graded stakes for trainer Todd Pletcher since joining his barn over the winter. The son of PURE PRIZE was victorious in the Man O’War (G1) over this course last month, defeating #2 ONE GO ALL GO and #8 SADLER’s JOY. Major contender.

#4 ALEXIOS KOMNENOS (IRE) makes his first start in the United States for European based trainer James Stack while also racing on Lasix for the first time. The Irish-bred colt comes off a 10-length loss to European star RHODODENDRON in a Group 1 race, but that was also his first start in over eight months. Before the lengthy break, this colt won a Group 3 at one mile, his biggest win to date. Florent Geroux rides.

#5 CATCHO EN DIE (ARG) finished fifth in the Man O’War (G1) at odds of 63/1. He was never a threat to hit the board in that race and will go off at a big price in this spot as well.

#6 HELLO DON JULIO makes his first start for 2018. The son of AFLEET ALEX was last seen running third in the Knickerbocker (G2) back in October and has done his best work against allowance company. Has failed to win a stakes race in his career. Longshot.

#7 FASHION BUSINESS (GB) easily defeated first level allowance company at Santa Anita last month and takes a sharp step up in class to this Grade I level. Son of FRANKEL makes his second start off a layoff for trainer Phil D’Amato, but gelding has never won a stake before. Another one that will go off at a big price.

#8 SADLER’S JOY has lost to #3 HI HAPPY in his last two races. Five-year-old son of KITTEN’S JOY usually sits far off the pace and makes one run. His last win came three starts back in the Mac Diarmida (G2) at Gulfstream. Would use underneath in exotics, if anywhere.

#9 CHANNEL MAKER was well beaten in the Turf Classic (G1) on ‘Derby Day, finishing six lengths behind YOSHIDA and about five lengths behind the likely favorite in this race, #10 BEACH PATROL. The turf was yielding that afternoon so maybe he did not care for the condition of the course, but unfortunately for this guy the turf is projected to be wet once again. Has yet to win a graded stake in his 16 race career. Siding with others.

#10 BEACH PATROL is a consistent horse that has finished in the top three spots in his last three races. Son of LEMON DROP KID made his first start of 2018 last month in the Turf Classic (G1) and ran second to YOSHIDA, who is bound for Royal Ascot. His biggest efforts last year were a second place finish in the Breeders Cup Turf (G1) and a victory in the Arlington Million (G1). Classy dude is the one to beat.

#11 MANITOULIN makes his second start off a five-and-a-half month vacation. His 2018 debut resulted in a three-length loss to #1 ROBERT BRUCE and #13 SPRING QUALITY in the Fort Marcy (G3). Three of his five career first place finishes have come over this turf course and big money rider Mike Smith takes the reins, who was aboard when this colt won the Hollywood Turf Cup (G2) at Del Mar in November.

#12 MULTIPLIER won a second level allowance race going a mile-and-an-eighth by a nose at Santa Anita and makes his graded stakes debut on turf for trainer Peter Miller. He’ll need to pick up his feet to even be competitive against some of these graded stakes monsters in here. 

#13 SPRING QUALITY won the Red Smith Handicap (G3) two starts ago at a mile-and-three-eighths, took five-and-a-half months off and ran second in the Fort Marcy (G3) to kick off his 2018 campaign. Second start off the break and stretching back out to a longer distance, he should be in peak condition for trainer Graham Motion. However, this is the toughest field he’s ever faced and the post position is far from ideal.


  1. #3 HI HAPPY – Hasn’t done anything wrong since joining Team Pletcher.
  2. #10 BEACH PATROL – Always shows up with a big effort.
  3. #8 SADLER’S JOY – Will be rolling late.

LONGSHOT VALUE PLAY- #11 MANITOULIN – Grade 2 winner merits respect. 


I’ll box my top two picks in an exacta. 


$25 Exacta Box: #3 HI HAPPY and #10 BEACH PATROL

The post $1,000,000 Manhattan (G1) – Belmont Park appeared first on TVG - HORSE RACING INSIDER.

$1,200,000 Metropolitan Mile Handicap (G1) – Belmont Park

Race 9 (Saturday, June 9, 2018: 4:45 p.m./ET; 1:45 p.m./PT)

The $1.2 million Metropolitan Mike Handicap (G1) features a strong cast of some of the best older milers in North America and is one of a half dozen exhilarating Grade I races on the stakes filled Belmont Day card. Let’s begin our analysis of the 2018 Metropolitan Handicap (G1) with the morning line favorite, who drew the inside post position:

#1 MIND YOUR BISCUITS looks to win his first start back in the United States since a last to first score in the Dubai Golden Shaheen (G1) in March. It was an impressive effort, but even more so when you consider the fact that he was the only winner that evening to come from off the pace over an extremely speed biased main track. His last run at a one-turn mile was an extremely solid effort, finishing second in the Cigar Mile (G1) to run-away winner SHARP AZTECA.  If the ‘Dubai Bounce’ doesn’t pop up with this guy, he’s got a solid chance to be posing for pictures.

#2 BOLT D’ORO is a three-year-old facing older horses for the first time. The Mick Ruis trainee finished poorly in the Kentucky Derby (G1) over a wet track last time out and ran second to Triple Crown contender JUSTIFY in the Santa Anita Derby (G1) two starts back. Has always possessed a ton of raw talent, but this isn’t an easy group of older horses to be competing against.

#3 LIMOUSINE LIBERAL was last seen earning one of the best Beyer Speed Figures of his career (103) in the Churchill Downs Stakes (G2) over a sloppy track. He is three-for-three over wet tracks and the weather forecast calls for rain, which only adds to his appeal. Has never run eight furlongs before and one has to question whether the extra furlong might be a bit too far. Jose Ortiz rode last him time and opts to hop aboard #5 GOOD SAMARITAN. Javier Castellano picks up the mount.

#4 MCCRAKEN looks to win his first Grade I and makes his second start off a six-month break after winning an allowance race at Churchill Downs. There is a big chance he takes a step forward off that last appearance considering he surely was not fully cranked for that effort. His best run last year was when he lost, finishing second by a nose in the Haskell (G1) at Monmouth Park.

#5 GOOD SAMARITAN has hit the board in the majority of his races but is a relatively inconsistent horse that does not always show up with his ‘A’ game. His best run makes him a major player while his ‘B’ efforts makes him vulnerable. Son of HARLAN’S HOLIDAY comes off a third place finish in the Alysheba (G2) against easier company. His most recent trip to the winner’s circle came two starts back in the New Orleans Handicap (G2) and his biggest triumph to date came in the Jim Dandy (G2) at Saratoga last year. Oozes raw talent but has to put it all together.

#6 ONE LINER stalked the pace before running second, beaten four-and-a-half lengths by IRISH WAR CRY in the Pimlico Special (G3) three weeks ago. Before that effort, he defeated allowance company at 3/5 at Keeneland. This is the toughest task of his career and all signs indicate he will need to pick up the pace to be competitive for an in-the-money effort.

#7 DISCREET LOVER ran a distant fourth in the Pimlico Special (G3), adding to this zero-for-seven record over wet surfaces. Passing.

#8 RANSOM THE MOON ships in from Southern California for trainer Phil D’Amato. Makes his second start off a five-and-a-half month layoff, but hasn’t won since July last year. Need to see more.

#9 WARRIOR’S CLUB was a game winner of the Commonwealth Stakes (G3) going seven furlongs two months ago and most recently ran a very good second in the Churchill Downs Stakes (G1) on Derby Day, which was run on a sloppy surface. Is peaking right now for The Churchill Downs Racing Club, a large syndicated group of owners who campaign this colt along with trainer D. Wayne Lukas.

#10 BEE JERSEY makes his Grade I debut in this spot for trainer Steve Asmussen. Clearly this guy is going better than ever (three consecutive victories) but the real question is whether he has the class to defeat the best in here. That said, from a pace scenario standpoint, he may have an edge as he likes to go to the front and there isn’t much other early speed.

#11 AWESOME SLEW finished third in the Breeders Cup Dirt Mile (G1) last Fall and has run twice this year, finishing second in the Carter (G1) before coming back to run a close third over a sloppy track in the Churchill Downs Stakes (G2). Appears to fit in with this group.


  1. #10 BEE JERSEY – Lone speed.
  2. #5 GOOD SAMARITAN – Dangerous with his best race.
  3. #1 MIND YOUR BISCUITS – Will do his best running late.



I’ll make a straight win bet on my top choice.


$50 Win: #10 BEE JERSEY

The post $1,200,000 Metropolitan Mile Handicap (G1) – Belmont Park appeared first on TVG - HORSE RACING INSIDER.


Will Justify become the 13th Triple Crown winner? The betting public will make him the heavy favorite to do just that, while many handicappers will take a contrarian view. Much has been written since the Preakness Stakes (G1) regarding Justify’s supposedly declining form:

– His Beyer Speed Figures have declined since his career debut.

– He barely held on to win the Preakness (G1) against longshots Bravazo and Tenfold.

– His compressed five-start career over the last three-and-a-half months has left him with little left in the tank for the Belmont (G1).

But I have a different point of view than the critics and skeptics.

In spite of the negative press, a simple fact remains: None of the horses that will face Justify have been able to beat him so far, and none are expected to improve enough to match him in the final leg of the Triple Crown.

In the Kentucky Derby (G1), Justify controlled a blazing early pace over a sloppy track, and used his energy early to put the field away. He essentially coasted home a winner that held off his nearest competition in the final furlong.

In the Preakness (G1), Justify and Good Magic engaged in what became essentially a match race, dueling through the slop, head and head for over a mile. These are the two best three-year-olds in North America and Justify’s rider, Mike Smith, saw Good Magic as the primary threat and essentially gambled that if he could duel that foe into defeat, he was unlikely to get caught by anyone closing late. Bravazo and Tenfold were factors late only because the top two fighters had held nothing back in their early battle. Mike Smith knew he had Good Magic beaten in the late stages, so in the final strides, he was not trying to do nothing more than make sure he held on for the win.

As for the declining speed figures, figure analysis is a lot more subjective when it comes to unusual situations like very sloppy tracks and early speed duels. Both situations apply to both the Derby (G1) and Preakness (G1). Both tracks were deluged with water all afternoon and even during each race. Therefore, it is difficult to determine how ‘fast’ or ‘slow’ the racing surfaces were. Both races involved Justify vanquishing all others up front and then holding off closers picking up the pieces. Again, this is not the usual way a good horse earns its top speed figures.

Should the Belmont Stakes (G1) be run on a fast track with a sensible early pace, it would not be a surprise to see Justify equal or exceed his Santa Anita Derby (G1) figure. That is, if Justify can run a marathon with the same brilliance as his runs at the classic distances. Dirt races beyond a-mile-and-a-quarter are rare in North America. The Belmont Stakes (G1) remains the most visible dirt marathon in America, and it offers peculiar challenges to handicappers.

A field of 10 starters is expected to enter the starting gate for the 2018 Belmont Stakes (G1), a far cry from the 20-horse Kentucky Derby (G1) field. Justify can lead this race from the start. Whether or not any other horses are asked to pressure him early is the key to how the Belmont Stakes (G1) unfolds. None of the other contestants have shown early speed in their previous starts, but some riders are nevertheless likely to send their horses on a mission to try and soften up Justify early. This was a big part of the demise of Smarty Jones’s Triple Crown bid in 2004. Although he was the fastest early runner, other horses were sent on suicidal bids to force Smarty Jones to go too fast in the early stages. The early runners all finished far back, but their sacrifice softened up the favorite enough for Birdstone to get up in the shadow of the wire.

If Justify is allowed to set a realistic pace, he has a huge advantage. In the Santa Anita Derby (G1), he was allowed to set an unpressured pace and after running an opening three-quarter mile split in 1:12:3, he powered home in a dominating performance.

Pace pressing horses Vino Rosso, Noble Indy and Tenfold can all lay close to Justify, but if they pressure him early, they are likely to fade just like Good Magic did in the Preakness Stakes (G1).

The public tends to favor closers in marathons, even though closers do not gain any advantage by waiting too long to go after the leaders. Bravazo, Blended Citizen, Hofburg and Free Drop Billy will be played by many looking for a horse to rally from far back. The closers only enter the picture if Justify is pressured throughout the first mile of the race.

Justify’s early speed is once again his best weapon in his bid to make racing history. He should be able to find a comfortable position on or just off of the lead, and take over entering the far turn. He has already proven himself in two classics, and may not face competition that is any faster than he is over a route of ground. Yes, his five-race career may already have taken a toll on him since his career debut on February 18th, but the expectation is that he will prevail once again before taking a well deserved rest as the 13th Triple Crown winner.


Be sure to check out Dean Arnold’s handicapping book, A Bettor Way, on sale now through Amazon.

The post THE 2018 BELMONT STAKES appeared first on TVG - HORSE RACING INSIDER.


Preakness (G1) at Pimlico: Lost my entire $50 allocated bankroll despite JUSTIFY ($2.80) winning the second leg of the Triple Crown. Relatively easy to do when playing trifectas with horses that don’t crack the top three. Disappointing, but I had a cushion to play with due to some handicapping success in one of the undercard races.

Dixie (G2) at Pimlico: Was washed off the turf, but had no impact on yours truly as my top selection (FROSTMOURNE) was scratched.

Gallorette (G3) at Pimlico: Now three-for-four at the mile-and-one-sixteenth distance on turf, ULTRA BRAT ($5.40) ran to her wagering support as she won by an impressive 10 ¼ lengths. Unfortunately, I wasn’t on her bandwagon.

Maryland Sprint (G3) at Pimlico: SWITZERLAND ($7.80) made my $20 win ticket worth something as well as keying an $11.20 exacta, which I had five times. Why can’t all the races be this easy?

The post RECAP OF SELECTIONS FROM 05/19/18 appeared first on TVG - HORSE RACING INSIDER.