Belmont Park Picks & Analysis for May 9
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Belmont Park wraps up the week with nine races on Sunday led by the Gold Fever for 3-year-old dirt sprinters, carded as the featured Race 8. Our in-house handicapper has taken the liberty of breaking down the card, with picks for every race and additional analysis of his strongest opinions throughout the day.
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Most Likely Winner: Twilight Gleaming (Race 4) - This filly does have a stablemate from the barn of Wesley Ward in Race 4 that could potentially be dangerous, but she’s bred more for turf and ran the better race in her debut on April 8 at Keeneland. That effort was particularly notable because of her extensive turf breeding, and it’s clear from her worktab that this is almost certainly going to be her preferred surface. With improvement likely in store for her on Sunday, it’s doubtful she’s going to get beat in this race, even if her barnmate Poppy Flower takes to the turf.
Best Value: Sanctuary City (Race 7) - There are no killers in this second-level optional claimer, which is why I’m going to give Sanctuary City a try in his second start of the year. Sanctuary City first popped up on my radar last year in the Mohawk Stakes at Belmont, where he inexplicably ran fifth with a whopping 96 Beyer Speed Figure. Although he failed to live up to that lofty number in two subsequent starts in 2020, it did at least signal that this horse has some serious ability, which was also evident last out in his 4-year-old debut. Despite a troubled beginning, Sanctuary City was able to mow down a field of New York-breds going six furlongs over the Aqueduct turf, and it’s likely that in his second start of the campaign, now at a more appropriate distance, that he moves forward off the effort. If he does, he’s going to be a major player in this race at a square price.
Other Races of Interest: Race 5 - Saburai (#7) is the horse to beat as she ships cross-country for trainer Vladimir Cerin, who already has a winner at the meet, however I’m a little skeptical of this 7-year-old as she’s going to be a heavy favorite and is still looking for her third career victory. I prefer the returning Mopolka (#4) in this spot. Mopolka made steady strides as a 3-year-old in 2020 and capped off the year with a career-best performance at the Big A. I’m expecting her to come back in similar form for trainer Carlos Martin, and her early speed is always going to make her a real threat.
Race 8 - It’s pretty much impossible to trust anyone in this edition of the Gold Fever for 3-year-old dirt sprinters, so I’m going to give Beren (#1) a chance to rebound at what should be a decent price. This horse was not good last out in the G3 Bay Shore at Aqueduct, his lone start on this circuit, however prior to that he was in solid form at Parx Racing, where he rattled off two straight victories prior to his stakes debut. If he gets back to that level of performance he should be able to beat this lackluster field.
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