A pair of New York Stallion Series stakes races highlight a terrific 10-race card on Saturday at Belmont Park. As usual, our in-house handicapper has you covered with picks for every race, as well as analysis of his best value plays throughout the day.
If you're looking for picks elsewhere around the country on Saturday, be sure to check out our Free Horse Racing Picks via the gold button below.
Flower Point (#2) is the horse to beat as she gets back on turf (and you should know how much I love Joel Rosario in turf sprints), however I have to take a shot here with Katama Moonlight (#4), who seems perfectly suited to this seven-furlong distance. Things didn’t work out for her last out in the Powder Break, but I’m not going to hold that race against her as she was forced to run without Lasix. Her prior effort going 7 ½ furlongs at Gulfstream Park was very good, and I expect her to build upon that performance in this spot as she gets to go one turn on turf for the first time in her career. Another reason I’m so bullish on her chances is her trainer Saffie Joseph, Jr. I’ve long been skeptical of his horses outside of South Florida, however Joseph is having a breakout year on the NYRA circuit in 2021, where it seems like all of his charges are firing big races. Katama Moonlight has shown some tractability in the past, which would be beneficial to her in this race, but either way I think she’s set to outrun her odds.
Many are going to gravitate toward Ava’s Grace (#10), who towers over this field in terms of class, however I have some major issues with this filly as she shows up in this New York Stallion Series race while running on turf for the first time. I know the $150,000 purse is nothing to sneeze at, but this feels like an awfully conservative spot for a filly coming off a second-place finish on dirt in the G3 Fantasy with an 87 Beyer Speed Figure, and who was subsequently entered and scratched out of the G1 Kentucky Oaks. The questions surrounding her placement here are only compounded by her lack of familiarity with the surface. Laoban has proven to be a versatile sire, but I can’t possibly bet on this one at a short price given the unknowns involved.
Instead, I prefer a filly coming off a recent win in a New York-bred maiden claimer, Sport Model (#4). It’s probably not as big a jump as you might think to go from a spot like that to a NYSS race, and it’s encouraging to see that the runner-up from her last race came back to win. Sport Model had a bumpy start to her career, but I think she’s hitting her stride at the right time and is a sneaky contender in this race, possibly as the “other” Christophe Clement runner, while entering off a Beyer that puts her squarely in the mix.
Listed at 8-1 on the morning line, I’m willing to bet that the recent improvement we’ve seen from Joycee Haz Pizzaz (#3) is legitimate. I know Risk Profile (#6) is coming off an imposing Beyer Speed Figure of 88 in his first start with trainer George Weaver, but he had everything his own way on the front end that day and now must stretch out in distance to a mile. Joycee Haz Pizzaz, meanwhile, blew the doors off a decent field of open 25k claimers in his first start with Ed DeLauro. I think most bettors are going to be skeptical of that race given the fact it’s not easy to move a horse up off Orlando Noda, however I see no reason to dismiss that effort, and I believe a mile is going to be within his scope. If he repeats his last race, which I believe is a distinct possibility even as he takes a nominal step up in class, he’s going to be tough to beat.
I also consider Indian Counselor (#5) to be a live alternative to the favorite, though I’m not sure how much value he’s going to offer himself. Still, I think you can disregard his last race, in which he got off to a rough beginning over a sloppy track, and his prior efforts clearly put him in the mix.
I didn’t like a Robertino Diodoro runner in the first NYSS race on the card, but I’m going to give the nod to his Dreamer’s Disease (#6) in this one. While he’s by no means a trustworthy sort, Dreamer’s Disease showed enormous potential on turf last year when he broke his maiden at Ellis Park by four lengths with a 78 Beyer. He came undone in his next start at Kentucky Downs, however that’s never an easy turf course for a young horse to negotiate, so I think you can draw a line through it. Since those two turf starts, Dreamer’s Disease has run some surprisingly good races on dirt, flashing sharp early speed to go along with a hint of stamina. That combination should be perfect for this seven-furlong distance, and I really think he’s going to appreciate a return to this surface.
I’m also pretty interested in The King Cheek (#7) as he makes his first start on turf for trainer Jamie Ness. This guy has been running well in some bigger spots in the Mid-Atlantic, and as a son of Laoban out of a War Chant mare, it’s possible that this is going to be his preferred surface. If he does take to it, there’s no reason he can’t beat a field like this.
*If you're interested in seeing payouts for these races, you can find them on our Results page linked to below*