9-15-17 By Shawn Rychling
It’s the second weekend of action at Belmont as the 38-day Fall Championship meet continues a ‘soft launch’ with a pair of 3-day weekends following the close of Saratoga and everyone’s favorite meet of the year.
The Belmont meet will begin in earnest this coming Wednesday, Sept. 23, when a standard week of 5-day race cards kicks off. Racing fans will be looking forward to back-to-back Saturdays of Sept. 30 and Oct. 7 with a total of seven graded stakes scheduled to go off, including the Grade I Vosburgh for older sprinters on the first Saturday, and the Grade I Jockey Club Gold Cup on the latter Saturday.
The Grade-I Champagne is also on tap for Oct. 7 during what will be the climactic weekend of the meet which will include a pair for Grade-I races on Sunday, Oct. 8 and a full holiday card on Monday, Oct. 9, Columbus Day.
Now let’s circle back to this weekend and full cards all three days including Friday. We’ll zero in on the late pick 4 on Saturday and give you some tips on that series of races.
Race 7: (2) Cerise’s Prince suffered a wide route last time and enters here off a best-of-88 bullet work. He also has a 2 for 4 career mark over the Belmont grass. (10) Black Tide has won three of his nine Belmont starts and drops in her out of stakes race. (3) Annals of Time may be the horse to beat off a Grade-I win in December and a 100-plus speed fig, but we have to wonder why this horse is entered in this spot. (8) Cloontia loves Belmont and should fire second off a layoff. (9) Gio’s Calling is worth a look off last three starts.
Race 8: (3) Hammerin’ Aamer has moved forward smartly since ending a 4 ½-month layoff and turns back to preferred distance. (1) Harlan Punch has been first or second in four straight starts and won in career best last time. (2) Meantime has been solid competitor in all but ill-fated Belmont Stakes try. (11) Spieth has improved steadily last three starts. (4) Faja has been away since romp in debut last December, but Pletcher should have this one ready.
Race 9: 6-Uni has moved forward smartly in second U.S. start and both of those races were graded stakes. (3) La Coronel ran well in a Grade-II at Saratoga. (2) Fifty Five has been off since opening day at the Spa and always risky to bet against Chad Brown in a spot like this. (7) Empress of the Nile has just the maiden win, but did move forward sharply last time out in winning that race.
Race 10: (4) Cordero drops down off a career-best speed figure and a win, and also figures to improve second off a long layoff. (1) Pioneer Spirit may be the horse to beat off career and dropping down for Linda Rice. (12) Performance Bonus is a threat for Chad Brown off a bullet work. (7) Twenty Four Seven is a threat on forward move to form of last fall. (9) Lone Trader runs well at Belmont. (10) Star Empire goes first off the claim for underrated barn.
A B C
Race 7 2, 3 10 8, 9
Race 8 1, 3 2 4, 11
Race 9 6 2, 3 7
Race 10 1, 4, 12 7, 9 10
Don’t forget all the Hot List picks and Belmont analysis is on the Interbets site right here. Good luck!