Belmont Park Picks: Mandatory a must play in Race 6

The Elusive Quality highlights a nine-race card on Saturday at Belmont
The Elusive Quality highlights a nine-race card on Saturday at Belmont

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A strong edition of the seven-furlong Elusive Quality for older turf sprinters leads the way on a strong weekend card at Belmont. Our in-house handicapper has scoured the card for winners, with picks for every race and analysis of his strongest opinions throughout the day.

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Horse Racing Picks

Most Likely Winner:  High Opinion (Race 4) - High Opinion was one of the most shocking winners on the NYRA circuit last year when she broke her maiden at nearly 100-1 on October 10 over this turf course, and she nearly followed it up with another massive upset in the Winter Memories at Aqueduct to close out her 3-year-old campaign. Her runner-up performance in the Winter Memories proved beyond a shadow of a doubt that her maiden score was no fluke, and that effort has since been flattered by the winner and third-place finisher coming back to win. If High Opinion returns in a similar form I don’t think anyone is beating her in this compact allowance race.

Best Value:  Mandatory (Race 6) - This is a really fun maiden special weight with a variety of different ways to go, but I think Mandatory may have an edge on his competition. This guy has been improving steadily as a 4-year-old for trainer John Kimmel and earned a sharp 85 Beyer Speed Figure last out on the main track at Aqueduct. This start marks his first try on turf, a surface he has a good deal of pedigree for. All Mandatory really needs to do is run a comparable race on this surface, however given his breeding he may actually move forward on it. If he does he’s going to be very tough to beat.

Other Races of Interest:  Race 5 - Heavy Roller (#6) is awfully tough to trust as the favorite in this 16k claimer given the fact he was a voided claim last out at Aqueduct for an even cheaper tag. He did win that race rather easily (which makes the void even more suspicious), but this is a far better group and I’m not putting much stock in the 85 Beyer he earned. I prefer the super honest Runabout (#5), who doesn’t have any recent figures that can rival Heavy Roller but is very consistent and a good fit at this level. Whereas several others in here have serious question marks surrounding them, Runabout can safely be relied upon to run another good race at what should be fair odds.

Race 8 - I don’t have any kind of clever idea in the Elusive Quality, but it came up a very salty race and is worth highlighting nonetheless. My pick in the day’s feature is Front Run the Fed (#6), who is something of a specialist at this trip. I don’t necessarily believe the speed figures he’s earned for his two seven-furlong performances at Belmont, but they were both emphatic wins and he really proved something to me at the end of last year when he nearly won the G3 Turf Sprint at Kentucky Downs over a soft and demanding course. Back on his favorite surface, I’m expecting Front Run the Fed to show up with a career-best effort as he makes his 5-year-old debut for trainer Chad Brown.

 

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