Belmont Park Picks & Analysis for May 16
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Another week of racing at the Belmont Park Spring/Summer Meet comes to an end on Sunday with a solid nine-race program. As usual, our in-house handicapper is on the case with picks for the whole card and additional analysis of his strongest opinions throughout the day.
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Most Likely Winner: Vici (Race 2) - I liked Vici last time in his first start with trainer Rob Atras, and I see no reason to get him off now after he just won at this level against a nearly identical group. A confirmed turf sprinter with back class, Vici always figured to be a good fit for a 25k tag at this point in his career, and it’s a credit to Atras that he was able to get back to his winning ways so quickly. Barring something completely unforeseen, he should win this race.
Best Value: Coragescontender (Race 9) - Nobody in this conditioned claimer scares me, which is why I’m going to take a shot with Coragescontender, who is 15-1 on the morning line. There’s really very little quality in this race, even for the level, and Coragescontender has shown some ability on turf. He’s now making his third start with trainer Mike Miceli, who is a very underrated horseman on the NYRA circuit, and the turnback in distance could really wake him up. He doesn’t really need to move forward to win this race, but I think improvement is in store for him on Sunday.
Other Races of Interest: Race 4 - The Orlando Noda barn is absolutely on fire right now at Belmont, so I’m happy to take Yankee Empire (#2) as he goes first off-the-claim for Noda. His last race wasn’t good, but it’s entirely possible that he just doesn’t care for a wet track, and his prior races on a dry track as a 3-year-old would give him a big chance here. If Noda is able to move this horse up, which I believe is a very likely outcome, he’s going to be tough at a square price.
Race 6 - Coming off a layoff of just shy of a year, Rising Bella (#1) ran very well in her last start at Gulfstream Park, where she got off to a slow beginning but closed a good amount of ground to get fourth. I think that race was the perfect tune-up for this one, and I’m anticipating the additional furlong she gets in this race is going to be to her liking. With no short-priced entrants I’m particularly fond of, I think this filly is going to offer value in the vicinity of her 6-1 morning-line odds.
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