Belmont Park Picks: Aunt Kat is a big like in Race 7
BELMONT PARK Picks
The return of racing at Belmont Park is a welcome feeling as yet another small step towards normalcy seems to be taking place. This was one of the tracks affected by the first wave of the Covid-19 pandemic when the 2020 Spring-Summer meet was pushed back. That resulted in just 25 days of racing and significantly reduced purses. No fans were in situ and wagering was done remotely.
Come 2021 however, the meet will conduct 48 days of racing and overnight purses have been raised to their highest levels. Whilst fans will not be at the track for Opening Day, Gov. Andrew Cuomo has said that NYRA tracks can open at 20% capacity from Friday. Belmont are holding off awaiting more guidance but it is expected that they’ll open in the early stages of the meet.
59 Stakes Races are on the ledger worth a tick under $17million with the $1.5million Belmont Stakes being top of the tree. The third leg of the Triple Crown is set to run on June 5.
Racing will be conducted four days a week for the next 12 weeks with action on Thursday’s through Sunday’s.
As you would expect - the team at HorseRacing.net will be covering the meet with picks every day along with analysis most days to go along with in-depth coverage of all the big Stakes Races. Our in-house handicapper will be our primary guy for the meet with our turf-man and editor chipping in as and when needed. For the opening three days it will be our editor making the Picks.
Most Likely Winner: Aunt Kat (Race 7). This might be a bit of a surprise pick considering several other horses are Odds-on on the Morning Line but give me a 95 Beyer Speed Figure in breaking her Maiden up at Aqueduct on March 13 and you have me excited.
The Bill Mott trained four-year-old filly struggled with distance in her opening two races - both a mile or more but that 6.5f win was a romp. Pleasant Orb is a fine horse who hasn’t run since being obliterated by Gamine in the Grade I Acorn last year but the short distance here might not suit her. I like Aunt Kat to get the job done.
Best Value Play: Lisheen (Race 6). I’ve long been a big fan of Into Mischief horses. It hasn’t been the most profitable down at Keeneland in recent weeks but it is tough to go against such a nice bloodline long-term. This three-year-old filly is not the favorite here but has looked pretty decent down at Tampa Bay Downs this winter, twice just failing to break her maiden.
Junior Alvarado gets the ride and whilst Coalition Building looks the best horse in the field - that 8/1 Morning Line price for Lisheen looks too tempting to flat-out ignore. Not sure she wins but a great chance to hit the board.
Other Race of Interest (Race 5): Tempted to play another Into Mischief horse here in Fast Getaway and this looks like a straight-up battle between Maxwell Esquire and Ryan’s Cat. The former has tremendous closing speed but needs to be up and around the front with two furlongs to go. Even three or four lengths back and he should win comfortably.
The latter is stepping onto turf for the first time in a race since 2019 but has won three of his past four on the Aqueduct dirt. Should be a good one this and if Ryan’s Cat can translate his dirt form on to the turf then watch out.
I’ve gone with that crazy closing speed of Maxwell Esquire but I personally wouldn’t bet this race at that price.