Team Tuley's preview of Belmont Weekend
We don’t have a Triple Crown on the line this year with Kentucky Derby winner Mage losing in the Preakness, but it’s still a big racing weekend at Belmont Park in Elmont, New York, with Friday’s Acorn Stakes for 3-year-old fillies and Saturday’s Belmont Stakes with strong undercards on both days.
While waiting for the smoke to clear from the fire in Canada, I’m joined by Team Tuley regulars Ed Sehon and Rampart race and sportsbook manager Duane Colucci with an early look at a wide-open Belmont that is being run at a mile and a half (a distance that none of these 3-year-olds have run before and probably will never run again).
VSiN Horse Racing Programming Note:
Our VSiN colleague Adam Burke also has an Acorn Stakes Preview for Friday
and Sehon has his Mr. Ed’s preview of the Friday card
. In addition, Mr. Ed will also have a piece on Saturday’s card and Team Tuley will also have our regular Saturday piece in which we’ll update our Belmont plays as well as the undercard and plays at other tracks from coast to coast.
For our purposes here, let’s start with Mr. Ed’s notes on the Belmont Stakes field and then he’ll give his top pick as well as an Acorn-Belmont Double and Colucci and I will do the same.
Mr. Ed breaks down Belmont field
#1 TAPIT SHOES (morning line: 20-1)
Trainer: Brad Cox
Jockey: Jose Ortiz
Best Beyer Speed Figure: 91
ON IMPROVE: Pricey son of super sire Tapit, colt keeps getting better with each outing. Last two races vs. lesser rivals generated respectable Beyers of 91 and 90, but not high enough to compete here. Not today, Jose.
#2 TAPIT TRICE (3-1)
Trainer: Todd Pletcher
Jockey: Luis Saez
Best Beyer Figure: 99
SECOND BEST: Following impressive victories in Grade 1s Tampa Bay Derby and Blue Grass Stakes, $1.3 million son of Tapit finished a disappointing 7th in Kentucky Derby. Superior connections expecting better result following extended break. Capable of regaining form.
#3 ARCANGELO (8-1)
Trainer: Jena Antonucci
Jockey: Javier Castellano
Best Beyer Speed Figure: 97
LIVE LONGSHOT: Not to be taken lightly, son of speedy Arrogate won Grade 2 Peter Pan by a head in the week following Kentucky Derby. Eye-popping works have morning touts singing his song. Upset in making at generous price?
#4 NATIONAL TREASURE (5-1)
Trainer: Bob Baffert
Jockey: Johnny Velazquez
Best Beyer Figure: 98
Earnings: $1.35 million
DERBY DANDY: Winner of Preakness three weeks ago, ultra-consistent sophomore could repeat victory. Fired bullet work on Tuesday. Don’t count this guy out of money.
#5 IL MIRACOLO (30-1)
Trainer: Antonio Sano
Jockey: Marco Mensses
Best Beyer Speed Figure: 77
WOULD BE MIRACLE: What’s this slowpoke doing here? Just by entering Triple Crown event connections are awarded great seats, paddock access, fine food and unlimited bar tab. Enjoy the party, folks.
#6 FORTE (5-2)
Trainer: Todd Pletcher
Jockey: Irad Ortiz Jr.
Best Beyer Speed Figure: 100
Earnings: $2.4 million
RESTED, READY: Late scratch as Kentucky Derby morning-line favorite, Pletcher says he’s well-healed (pun intended). Not sure how to read regressing speed figures. Guy knows how to win, so don’t underestimate chances. Has score over oval. Probable public choice at post time.
#7 HIT SHOW (10-1)
Trainer: Brad Cox
Jockey: Manny Franco
Best Beyer Speed Figure: 98
NO SHOW: Surprising 5th in Kentucky Derby, deep Cox barn vans late-bloomer to New York for slice of Big Apple. A legitimate longshot to last grueling mile-and-a-half. Show flops on Broadway.
#8 ANGEL OF EMPIRE (7-2)
Trainer: Brad Cox
Jockey: Favien Prat
Best Beyer Speed Figure: 104
Earnings: $1.4 million
REAL DEAL: Show finish in Kentucky, he’s still leader of the Cox crew. Gaining ground in Derby stretch, wiseguys sure colt can handle marathon distance. Blinkers added to ensure better attention to pace. One for all the money.
#9 RED ROUTE ONE (15-1)
Trainer: Steve Asmussen
Jockey: Joel Rosario
Best Beyer Speed Figure: 92
SON OF A GUN: Offspring of popular sire Gun Runner, colt finished respectable 4th in Preakness. All-time winningest trainer generally spots his horses when they belong. But not here.
Team Tuley’s Belmont Picks
Ed Sehon likes #8 Angel of Empire (7-2 morning line): “I like the breeding (grandson of Pioneerof the Nile), the barn (Brad Cox), the jockey (Flavien Prat), the stretch out to 1 1/2 miles, his work tab and the equipment change (blinkers on). But, most of all I like the odds (third choice in the morning line). I’m tossing shaky favorite #6 Forte (5-2). Look for late-running #2 Tapit Trice and longshot #3 Arcangelo to round out the top three. For early readers, I’ll also take my three Acorn picks on Friday – #2 Randomized (5-1), #5 Munnys Gold (9-5) and #6 Pretty Mischievous (2-1) – and combine them with my top three Belmont selections for a $5 Acorn-Belmont Double on 2,5,6 with 2,3,8. Friday update: Pretty Mischievous won the Acorn and paid $5.80.
Dave Tuley likes #9 Red Route One (15-1 morning line): “This is a wide-open race with #6 Forte, who was the Derby favorite before being scratched the morning of the race, making his return and Preakness winner #4 National Treasure (4-1) again looking like he’ll be dangerous on the lead. #8 Angel of Empire (7-2) finished third in the Derby and looks as a big threat, while #2 Tapit Trice finished seventh in the Derby but his race was better than it looks on paper and should be right in the mix. But I’m going to try to beat all those top contenders with #9 Red Route One. Regular readers will recall he was also my Preakness pick to make a big closing move under Joel Rosario. He moved within 2.5 lengths of the lead after 6 furlongs but then didn’t finish. However, I’ve written it before and I’ll repeat it here: I’d rather be on a horse too soon than too late. We’ll toss that result and expect him to be able to get the mile and a half distance and have the best closing kick turning for home as others struggle to last. We’ll narrow down our exotic plays in Saturday’s “Team Tuley” column, but for now we’re listing our Belmont plays this way as of Thursday while looking through the smoke-filled air of New York: #9 Red Route One (15-1), Angel of Empire (7-2), Forte (5-2) and throwing in longshot #5 Il Miracolo (30-1).”
Duane Colucci likes #4 National Treasure (4-1 morning line): “The Preakness winner had a super workout over this course on June 5 and should be controlling a moderate pace on Saturday. Trainer Bob Baffert and jockey Johnny Velazquez combine for a 34% win percentage. National Treasure will have to hold off the closers again in #8 Angel of Empire, who adds blinkers, and the well-rested #6 Forte. Bet 4 to Win and key 4 over 2,6,8 in Exactas and Trifectas and reverse. Bonus Acorn pick: #1 Dorth Vader (10-1 morning line). The trainer switch to George Weaver should improve this filly who only lost the Kentucky Oaks by 3 lengths and has worked well and returns to one turn, which should help.” Friday update: Dorth Vader ran second to Pretty Mischievous and paid $8.60 to Place.