Another quality, nine-race card is on tap for Friday at Belmont Park, where the weather figures to be a bit milder. As usual, our in-house handicapper has broken down the card, with analysis of his strongest opinions and picks for every race.
If you're looking for picks elsewhere around the country on Friday, be sure to check out our Free Horse Racing Picks via the gold button below.
Most Likely Winner: Doll (Race 5) - After scratching out of a tougher New York-bred spot on Thursday, Doll finds herself in a very cushy position on Friday facing a woeful group of conditioned claimers. This mare did finish last in her last race, however she was facing a significantly tougher field and should be very tough to beat here even if she merely runs back to that effort. With little opposition standing in her path, she should get the job done in the kickoff leg of the Late Pick 5 at Belmont.
Best Value: Box N Score (Race 8) - Shamrocket is the horse to beat coming off a solid fourth-place finish in the G1 Man O’ War, but this horse has been up and down in 2021 and I just don’t trust him in this race. Box N Score, meanwhile, took a sneaky step forward in his seasonal debut and should appreciate stretching back out to a more appropriate distance. In addition to showing improved early speed last out, Box N Score was facing a quality allowance field and stayed on strongly in the stretch, very much looking the part of a mile and a quarter type of horse. He should fly under the radar a bit in this spot, especially if Shamrocket sucks up a good chunk of the betting action, and I think he’s a lock to outrun his odds for the red-hot Jonathan Thomas.
Other Races of Interest: Race 3 - This is a fascinating higher-priced claimer on dirt, and you could legitimately build a case for every runner in this compact field. That statement may make it seem as though I’m going to pick a longshot, but instead I have to go back to an old favorite of mine, Chris and Dave (#2). I’ve always thought this horse is best around one turn, especially at Belmont, where he can run in these kinds of elongated one-turn races, and even at 8-years-old he just keeps on plugging away with quality efforts. Although his recent Oaklawn races look a touch slow for this group, I’m expecting him to take a step forward over this track, on which he’s run two of the best races of his life.
Race 9 - Coming off a deceptively strong performance at the level, Majestic Sky (#7) was very much in the running to be the day’s ‘Most Likely Winner,’ though he should still offer ample value in the finale. For a New York-bred maiden claimer, I thought he was terrific last out when he pressed a fast opening quarter, was taken back to sit off the pace, then stayed on well in the stretch to nearly reel in a wire-to-wire winner. The way he finished off that race leads me to believe he’s going to be even better at a mile, and his early speed is going to assure him a good trip in this spot. Even at his morning-line odds of 4-1 he’d be a sizable overlay.
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