Belmont Park Picks & Late Pick 4 Analysis for May 31

Belmont hosts a special, 10-race Memorial Day card on Monday
Belmont hosts a special, 10-race Memorial Day card on Monday

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While the Met Mile no longer serves as the Memorial Day feature at Belmont Park, the day still features a ton of exciting racing and is chock full of New York-bred stakes races. As usual, our in-house handicapper has you covered with picks for the whole card, as well as detailed analysis of the Late Pick 4 sequence.

If you're looking for picks elsewhere around the country on Monday, be sure to check out our Free Horse Racing Picks via the gold button below.

Horse Racing Picks

Race 7

One of the most interesting races on this special Memorial Day card at Belmont, the Mike Lee features a fascinating showdown between highly promising New York-bred 3-year-olds Excellent Timing (#3) and River Dog (#6). The latter is making his highly anticipated second start following a monstrous debut win over this track on May 2, when he won by seven lengths with a whopping 96 Beyer Speed Figure. Obviously if he runs back to that lofty number he’s going to be practically untouchable in this spot, but I have my doubts that he’s as good as that figure suggests. River Dog showed a willingness to sit behind horses in his first start, which is encouraging for a firster, but he did get a very good trip and was beating a field of suspect quality. I have a feeling he’s going to regress in this spot, and as such he could enter underlay territory if he gets bet down off his rather conservative morning-line odds.

Given my concern with River Dog’s price, my top pick here is Excellent Timing. He is coming off a dreadful outing on turf on the Kentucky Derby undercard, however prior to that he was very impressive in winning the Damon Runyan in his first start with trainer Chad Brown. The 83 Beyer he earned for his win in the Damon Runyan seems to leave a wide gulf between him and River Dog, but I don’t think the gap is as great as it appears and I’m expecting a career-best effort from him as he gets back to his preferred surface.

Main:  3,6     Backup:  1

Order of preference:  3-6-1-5


Race 8

It’s unclear if turf racing is going to get the green light on Monday after extensive rain over the weekend at Belmont, but this analysis is going to assume it does, likely on a very soft course. On top, I can’t resist going back to City Man (#4), who appears to have taken a rather sizable leap as a 4-year-old. This New York-bred was pretty good at 3, and was able to beat open company in his final turf start of 2020 in the Gio Ponti, but he certainly didn’t show anything like what we saw in his 2021 unveiling in the G2 Fort Marcy. City Man did get a very good trip in that race and was no match for Tribhuvan, but it felt as though he really ran, which was corroborated by the 102 Beyer he earned, easily a career best. If he delivers anything close to that number he’s going to be a force on Monday, even in a spot as salty as this, and he has the added benefit of having run well over some softer courses in the past. Even at his morning-line odds of 7-2 I think he’s a strong play.

At an even bigger price, I’ll also be using the veteran Dot Matrix (#1) as a ‘main’ play. He, too, appreciates some cut in the ground, and at his best I know he’s capable of winning a race like this. It’s not easy to bank on an 8-year-old returning in top form, but in Dot Matrix’s case, given his world-class trainer Brad Cox and sharp turf works entering the Kingston, I’m willing to make an exception, especially as the likely fourth choice in the wagering. There’s also the possibility that the pace is fast and contested, which would only bolster this late-runner’s chances.

Main:  1,4     Backup (priority):  2,3

Order of preference:  4-1-2-3


Race 9

In the Critical Eye, I’m keying on the uncoupled Mike Miceli entry of Mrs. Orb (#4) and Love and Love (#7). Miceli simply does not get enough credit on this circuit as he does a phenomenal job with little to no fanfare, and these two are a prime example of why. He has these two New York-bred mares in career form at 6 and 5, respectively, and they both looked poised to add another win to their growing tallies.

I believe these two are far more reliable than Espresso Shot (#3), who is coming off the best last-out Beyer of anyone in the field for her win in the Biogio’s Rose on March 7 at Aqueduct but is unlikely to repeat that number. At this point in her career, it’s starting to feel as though Espresso Shot is at her best at Aqueduct and not quite the same elsewhere. Furthermore, that 90 Beyer she earned in the Biogio’s Rose sticks out like a sore thumb for this 5-year-old, and I’m doubtful she’s going to be able to duplicate after being sidelined again for three months following that race.

Alternatively, I’m more interested in Timeless Journey (#3) as a backup to the Miceli pair. Although she’s been treated as a turf horse for much of her career, Timeless Journey was very good on dirt when she was given an opportunity to run on it late last fall, and her trainer Christophe Clement has been pushing all the right buttons at the meet. I’m expecting a much-improved performance out of her in her second start of the year.

Main:  4,7     Backup (priority):  3,6

Order of preference:  4-7-3-6


Race 10

This non-stakes turf event could very well be a casualty of the weekend’s rain, however I’m again going to assume it stays on the lawn given the clear skies in the forecast for tomorrow. On turf, I’m very much interested in To the Tune (#7) as she makes her first start as a 3-year-old. This filly didn’t do terribly much running in her debut last fall on turf, however she still earned a competitive speed figure for that effort, and it’s very likely she takes a step forward with added maturation and blinkers. Given the distinct lack of quality in this maiden claimer, it wouldn’t take much improvement for her to be a formidable presence here.

The other logical filly I’ll be using as a ‘main’ is the Christophe Clement-trained Tales I Winit (#9). Despite a rather pedestrian Beyer for her last race, she is coming off a narrow defeat at the level and is an unavoidable play in this spot considering the lack of viable alternatives. It’s also a positive that she was able to run well over a course with some give to it in her 2021 debut.

Main:  7,9     Backup (priority):  3,12

Order of preference:  7-9-12-3

 

*If you're interested in seeing payouts for these races, you can find them on our Results page linked to below*

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