This race is a great reason to stay near a television or computer today. Although the field lacks any main track G-1 winners it is quite evenly matched and should be a great betting event. Bribon is a scary horse at Belmont on his best day. He is definitely the horse for the course but he is more used to beating up on allowance grade horses. He gets a tougher test here. I think you need to use him in any significant multi-race wager but if you're just win wagering he might be worth opposing for the sake of value. Riley Tucker stands out as a very interesting candidate to me. I thought he was a very decent two year old but he lost his way as a three year old. I think much of his under performance had to do with being asked to go two turns. He is 6-0-2-1 around two turns and 5-3-1-1 around one turn. Since moving to Baffert's barn he has been earning career best speed figures as well. Baffert is a very dangerous shipping trainer and the most recent bullet work is a good sign for a horse from his barn. There is an abundance of early speed which hurts his chances but hopefully he can get in front and some others will back off knowing that there is so much speed. Driven By Success is the only horse in the race that has more natural speed but he's breaking from the near outside post. Smooth Air is a horse I just can't rationalize myself away from. He is solid from top to bottom and should be able to adapt well to the pace. Other than against Bribon his speed figures look formidable. I'll definitely be using Smooth Air as a hedge. For some nice plays underneath I'd look at Imperial Council, Famous Patriot and Runforthedoe.They should like the conditions and can close into a fast pace if the speed horses decide to go crazy.
Shoemaker Mile Stakes
There is probably no type of race I love more than a nice stakes at a mile on the grass. I think these races give you the best mix contrasting styles, quick moves and tight finishes. I love to focus on the horses that I consider to be distance specialists but this race is chalked full of them. In fact I think a mile on the grass are the best conditions for all the members of this field. You almost never see that. I'm almost thankful to see Ventura scratch, not that her presence wouldn't be interesting but it removes another plausible option from the race. Everyone is good at a mile but I think the highest class milers are Whatsthescript and Hyperbaric. Dixie Chatter is aiming to become of the elite milers but I think he's just a length or two slower than these two. I find it interesting that Baze is off Hyperbaric and gets Dixie Chatter instead. Perhaps he knows something I don't but I'll still go against Dixie Chatter here. Whatsthescript is coming off a long layoff while Hyperbaric is trying to recover from a disaster in Dubai. Both situations may help their prices just a bit but they'll still be backed solidly. I'm going to prefer Hyperbaric slightly over Whatsthescript. Hyperbaric always seemed to have lots of talent but he was a head case. They finally got him figured out last fall and he reeled off 4 straight wins. There is a good deal of pace in the race but I think Hyperbaric won't be affected too badly. He can sit a length or two off the pace or lead if need be. He'll have first run on Whatsthescript and should be able to hold him off just barely. US Ranger and Dixie Chatter should fight it out for third.
Ouija Board Handicap
Another Turf Mile event where I feel like there is a good opportunity. Flibberjibit stands above the rest in my opinion. Although she will likely be backed into favoritism she still might offer some value is she is 2/1 or more. She has great speed that can be used to set the pace or simply press it, she is a step above the rest on class and a mile is definitely her best distance. Marty Wolfson is also one of the best shipping trainers in the country. He didn't send her to Texas for nothing. Underneath the best plays are Love To Tell and Rustic Flame. I respect the presence of Sweeter Still but she moved to an inferior barn and has been off quite a long time. I think she'll need a race.