By Shawn Rychling
Just as the weather begins to break a little bit here in the Northeast, we horseplayers get a most certain sign of spring and that is the return of racing at Belmont Park.
NYRA unlocked the admission gates on Friday afternoon as we are just a week away from the Kentucky Derby and that would mean six weeks from the 150th running of the Belmont Stakes on Saturday, June 9. Friday’s card kicked off the first of two abbreviated weeks at Belmont Park as NYRA goes three days this week and will return next Thursday, May 3 for a 4-day week of action including Derby Day on Saturday. Belmont will then resume a Wednesday-Sunday schedule for most of the rest of the 54-day spring/summer meet. It all wraps up on Sunday, July 15 and then we all head north to Saratoga for opening day on Friday, July 20.
As for the opener, the Hot List got off to a decent start giving out Paula’s Pistol ($8.40) in race 3 and the cold $23 exacta in that race. We also gave out the boxed exacta in race 7 which paid $65.50.
And just a quick recap of the Aqueduct winter meet, the Hot List had win percentage of 21.3 giving out 78 winners from 366 starters with 53.3% of our horses hitting the board. We ended on a high note going for 8 for 32 – 25 percent – in the final week.
Now back to Belmont and we take a look at the early pick 4 for Saturday:
Race 2 – (8) Three Goals drops to an all-time low and barn is 42 percent off the claim. (1) Barefoot Angel looks like the horse to beat off 3 in-the-money finishes in last four races. (7) Guy American Dream drops back down to the level of his best race. (5) Wushu Warrior has a race fast enough to win this one.
Race 3 – (5) Espresso Caliente just ran his best-ever race and it came on the dirt, but there aren’t many turf specialists entered here so perhaps the trend will continue. (3) Ride to the Sunset has improved with every race. (6) Congruity drops to an all-time low. (1) Michael Wonderful improved dramatically when switching to turf last fall and broke his maiden last time out although that race did come in November.
Race 4 – (3) Take Your Guns has been working well for Chad Brown and may be most likely winner in this sequence. (4) Doyouknowsomething can win this with return to winter form. (5) Uncle Sigh is always in the mix.
Race 5 – (2) Tapit High (B) offers some value here coming in off a shaky debut that was marred by a slow start when he veered in and spotted the field some ground. Addition of blinkers should help the early focus. (11) Labeq (B) switches to turf off a forward move last time. (5) Frontier Market would appear to be the horse to beat off three stellar attempts for Chad Brown. (1a) Commandeering is the other Chad Brown horse and one he inherits form Pletcher.
A B C
Race 2 8 1 5, 7
Race 3 3, 5 6 1
Race 4 3 4 5
Race 5 2, 5 1 11
Best of luck and welcome back to Belmont Park! Find out how to get all our Hot List analysis at Interbets.com.