There is a long history with the True North S. and beautiful Belmont Park. Normally, a salty crew contests this one, and this year is no exception. The defending champ is back, and ready for action. Firenze Fire #1 has become one of Kelly Breen’s best, and last time in the Runhappy (G3) at Belmont the 6-yr-old was sharp off-the-bench, to say the least. His past is full of able-bodied foes. He has squared off against Whitmore, C Z Rocket, Sleepy Eyes Todd, Win Win Win, True Timber, and Mind Control. Those are some of the classiest in the division. Getting Irad Ortiz to ride makes this one; makes him the one to beat. I am undeterred.
Right next door is a strong contender despite some major intrigue concerning a positive test for bisphosphonate that was detected after a race out at Santa Anita in the early fall. Flagstaff #2 is a strong runner, who has continued to be a powerful force in the barn of John Sadler. This allegation is not promising, but until the CHRB continues its process, the gelding will continue to compete. Sadler could be facing a suspension after a prior violation. The question is … should you back this one, considering that past, and as the “aged relative” comes into this spot with 4 races under his saddle? I would look elsewhere, even with Luis Saez retaining the mount.
Speaking of some other “shots,” maybe the direction to go in is a horse like Looking At Bikinis #5 from the barn of Chad Brown. I like this runner because she was certainly powerful in a good prep for this go. That race was a OC100k event which included a field of 6. The performance looked top notch, and Javier Castellano enjoyed the spoils in the end. If he can bottle some of that late speed, then these connections have the opportunity to step up into this position. Being lightly raced at this point in the cycle is a blessing, and that fact could end up being the lynchpin.
One other runner I would consider using is Linda Rice’s Wicked Trick #6. Last time in a G3 event at Belmont on Kentucky Derby Day, the 6-yr-old was pretty game vs. Dr. Post. The speed figure was also pretty impressive, and Jose Lezcano is heating up at NYRA. When he gets like this, he is a hard man to stop. A better than even chance to hit the board … and Rice could use a win in this celebrated Grade II event. It will not be an easy one for the hometown conditioner. Still, let’s use her entry.
Wagering Recommendation: $2 Trifecta Cold, 5 w 6 w 2