Belmont Park Picks & Analysis for May 20

Another week of racing at Belmont begins on Thursday with a nine-race card
Another week of racing at Belmont begins on Thursday with a nine-race card

Beautiful Belmont Park is open for business again on Thursday with a solid nine-race slate. As usual, our in-house handicapper is on hand to break down all the action, with detailed analysis of his best value plays and picks for the whole card.

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

Horse Racing Picks

Race 2

It’s possible Vip Nation (#8) is in decline as a 6-year-old after a rather uninspiring sprint try at Aqueduct Racetrack on April 18, however I have to think that six furlongs is just too short for her. This New York-bred mare appears to be well spotted in this 25k claimer that doesn’t feature much early speed, so she should be a distinct threat to wire this group as she makes her second start of the year.

Part of the reason I like Vip Nation so much is that the likely favorites just don’t do much for me. Here Comes Jackie (#4) is perfectly logical based on her Tampa Bay Downs form, but I’m a little skeptical those races are going to translate to this circuit. A similar fate befell Saburai (#3) in her last race at Belmont. She appeared to be well meant in her first local start based on compelling turf races in California, however she was no match for the winner of that conditioned claimer and earned a paltry 69 Beyer Speed Figure for the effort. I can’t imagine backing either of these two at a short price, and thus all signs point to Vip Nation offering at least a modicum of value in the day’s second race.

Race 4

This mid-level claimer is such a fun and competitive affair. You can build a case for just about every runner in this eight-horse field, but the one I’m most interested in is Customerexperience (#4). This filly has been expertly managed by trainer Rudy Rodriguez. After claiming her for 35k last fall, Rodriguez and owner Roddy Valente were hellbent on getting her an allowance win over the winter, which she finally did last out at Aqueduct, and now drop her right back in for a tag. Her last race may seem a little fluky as she got a good setup on a muddy track, but I’m a believer in the 81 Beyer she earned, which makes her something of a standout. Customerexperience posted a similar number in a sprint at Saratoga last summer with Rodriguez, and I just think she’s a great fit at this level, especially in a race with a couple others in questionable form.The other filly I’d strongly consider playing is Glass Ceiling (#8). She was no match for Customerexperience in her last race, but prior to that she’d been a model of consistency for trainer Mertkan Kantarmaci. This filly has run plenty of races fast enough to beat a field like this, and I think it would be a mistake to dismiss her based on one off performance. The presence of Anna’s Fast (#1) is also going to assure her an honest pace to run at.

Race 8

I want nothing to do with the short-priced runners in this turf sprint, which is why I’m happy to give Blind Ambition (#10) a try as he makes his first start with the red-hot Orlando Noda. A once-promising turf runner, Blind Ambition has no doubt taken a step back as a 7-year-old, though his last race could be a signal of better things to come. He got a very good trip last out against a cheaper field, but the winner of that race came right back to score over this course, and this isn’t as big a hike up in class as it appears. If he improves at all off that effort, which seems likely given the torrid run Noda is on, he’s going to be a major player at a square price.

I also wouldn’t discount the chances of Quarky (#6), who is arguably coming off the best turf race of anyone, yet he’s probably going to be the third or fourth choice in the wagering. He did suddenly improve in his last race, but that could be because he loves the elongated turf sprints available to him on this circuit. Quarky is also catching a field without much pace, and I think he’s poised to run another big race.

Trainer Christophe Clement has been having a sensational meet, but I want no part of Shekky Shebaz (#8) as he makes his first start as a 6-year-old. Shekky Shebaz was simply not the same last year after departing the barn of Jason Servis, one of the best turf sprint trainers in recent memory, and while he can win he’s going to be dramatically overbet based on shaky credentials.

Race 9

This is another confusing race on a solid betting card at Belmont, though one thing I know (or at least I think I know) is that I don’t want any of the fillies coming out of that April 22 race at this same level and distance, which was won by a Chad Brown horse that looked rather hopeless on paper heading into it. The race came back reasonably fast, but I think those speed figures could be a bit inflated and I have no confidence in those exiting that heat.

I strongly prefer Harlem Heights (#2) and Fortuna (#10), both of whom have shown potential at this distance and appear classier than their competition on Thursday. Harlem Heights was a major disappointment in her seasonal debut on April 10 at Aqueduct, and while she doesn’t have much of an excuse for that effort, I’m not willing to give up on this well-bred filly just yet. She was really starting to come to hand on turf late last year, especially at Belmont, and it wouldn’t at all be a surprise to see her bounce back in her second start of 2021. If she does, she’s going to be a very likely winner.

Fortuna has a very similar look, though she’s yet to make a start this year. She nearly beat a better group of maidens over this same course and distance in June of 2020, and I think she has excuses for her last two races, one on dirt and the other on the tricky Kentucky Downs turf. I suspect she’ll be ready to run in her 4-year-old debut, and a career-best performance is certainly not out of the question for this Graham Motion trainee.


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Horse Racing Results
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