Overview: I really don't like any of the headliner stakes races this weekend, the results will either be predictable or so wacky you'd never be able to predict it. The bottom line is that Octave, Any Given Saturday, Fairbanks and Grasshopper should all win but given Pletcher's recent cool streak the first 3 don't even look like safe money. I think the smartest thing to do is to keep the powder dry and save it for another day.
Belmont Race #3
I am careful to avoid the poor quality stakes races this weekend so I head straight for a likely 6 runner allowance? Is this really keeping the powder dry? Well I actually have a specific reason for wanting to play this race. For my money 3 of the most impressive allowance winners at Saratoga were Digger, Thorn Song and Silver Source. Digger came back in an obscure stakes race and won by a furlong. Thorn Song is coming back today in Belmonts 2nd. Silver Source looked fabulous to my eye at Saratoga and looked very much like the kind of late developing sprinter that could soon find himself in stakes company. His record is somewhat tarnished because of incompetent handling but Dutrow is good at placing his charges. I do find it odd that he's only had two works since that race, obviously something went wrong. But he blitzed a recent work at Aqueduct. There is unfortunately a chance he could scratch since his stablemate Royal Attire is also entered with Castro aboard. If he does scratch I don't want my money resting on Royal Attire. The opposition is a pretty ordinary cast of characters. Noonmark is always a threat but he's an underachiever who had no excuse for getting passed in his last. I've been eagerly waiting for his reappearance and I'd be remiss to let it pass.
Gallant Bloom Handicap
I'm not really pleased with this race but at least it has one key ingredient that makes it playable, a vulnerable favorite. I know Baffert blames Pussycat Doll's fall from grace on Polytrack and getting worked up before her races. But she went from a win machine to an automatic bet against in her last 3 races. I don't want to be anywhere near the 8/5 offered on her. If she puts her game back together she could win but she's a 6/1 kind of proposition not an 8/5. Pace makes the race, it's an old racetrack adage but it's as true today as it was the first day it was uttered. That's why you can count me slightly baffled that Great Intentions is the longest shot on the board. I know she hasn't run since that bad performance in February but she was clearly off that day. She didn't work for nearly two months afterward then was sidelined again. But now she has 7 solid works behind her including a recent bullet, she is also the lone speed in a sprint race. A look at historical figures makes her the second best horse in the race behind Pussycat Doll. She's the defending champion in this very fixture and she's 4-3-1-0 at Belmont. I'll take that complete package for 8/1 in a 5 horse field. She will either not let anyone get to her or finish last.