Four graded stakes races, including the $1 million Belmont Invitational Derby, promise for a blockbuster Saturday at Belmont Park. Top Americans in the Derby include Tiz the Bomb and Emmanuel. They’ll face Epsom Derby alumni Stone Age, Nations Pride and Royal Patronage as well as a pair of invaders from France. The co-featured $700,000 Belmont Invitational Oaks also has international implications from Ireland and France, taking on what appears to be a deep group of domestic fillies. The undercard includes Pimlico Special winner First Captain in the $400,000 Suburban as well as the $150,000 Victory Ride for sprint fillies and mares.
From a gambling standpoint, I’m all in for Stone Age in the Belmont Invitational Derby. He’s a pure mile-and-a-quarter runner from Ireland with a run-all-day pedigree. Trainer Aidan O’Brien and jockey Ryan Moore teamed up to win this race a year ago and are strong for the repeat bid.
In addition to grass performers in the Belmont Invitational Derby, it’s also Derby Day Saturday across the country in Indiana, Iowa and Southern California. The $300,000 Indiana Derby includes 75-1 Rebel Stakes upsetter Un Ojo and unbeaten Best Actor. Prairie Meadows’ $250,000 Iowa Derby cast features Iroquois winner Major General. Bob Baffert is back from his suspension to enter horses for the $125,000 Los Alamitos Derby.
For those betting the big Saturday card at Belmont, the Betmix database offers several handicapping pointers for stakes races at the local 2022 meeting.
Key Stakes Stats at Belmont
Percentage of winning stakes favorites: 49%
Average stakes win odds: 4-1
Key trainers in Belmont stakes races: Chad Brown (13-41, 32%), Todd Pletcher (8-36, 31%), Rudy Rodriguez (4-6, 67%)
Key jockeys in Belmont stakes races: Luis Saez (9-25, 36%), Irad Ortiz Jr. (8-28, 29%), Flavien Prat (7-28, 25%), Joel Rosario (6-32, 19%)
What to Watch for This Week
Jockey Irad Ortiz Jr. is back Friday after serving his five-day suspension for careless riding … With Churchill Downs having finished its meet Monday, the Kentucky racing action moves to Ellis Park this week, where 2-year-olds and turf sprints take center stage … Belmont Park’s closing day for the spring-summer meet will be Sunday, as Saratoga will be around the corner, beginning July 14 … Sunday also will be closing day at Los Alamitos for its brief meeting, meaning the SoCal circuit will be idle until Del Mar starts July 22 … Colonial Downs in Virginia is set to open its season Monday with an expansive turf course.
Friday Weekend Firestarter
Prairie Meadows has a stakes-laden card Friday night that includes the $100,000 Iowa Sprint. Speedy Oil Money will vie for favoritism, but there’s a lot of early heat expected. Give long shot Ultimate a look from off the pace. He came up only a head short of Oil Money in May over the same distance with a late move. I’ll consider win-place bets at what should be 10-1 or higher.
1/ST BET App Top Handicapping Tracks of the Week
The free 1/ST BET app allows you to apply millions of data points across dozens of handicapping factors in mere seconds and immediately place your wagers. Here’s where the artificial intelligence was most dialed-in last week by win percentage:
— Evangeline Downs: 47%
— Presque Isle Downs: 47%
— Pleasanton: 46%
— Louisiana Downs: 39%
— Mountaineer Park: 39%
Tracks with most reliable favorites last week (by win pct.)
— Parx Racing: 53%
— Hastings Park: 50%
— Pleasanton: 48%
— Assiniboia Downs: 48%
— Lone Star Park: 47%
— Mountaineer: 47%
Tracks that were long-shot havens last week (most winners 10-1 or higher)
— Churchill: 8
— Indianapolis: 7
— Belmont: 5
— Woodbine: 5
America’s hot jockeys last week
— Wilmer Garcia (7-13, 54%), Prairie Meadows
— Juan Gutierrez (10-22, 45%), Emerald Downs
— Luis Perez (5-11, 45%), Finger Lakes
— Jorge Carreno (5-12, 42%), Assiniboia Downs
— Carlos Lozada (9-22, 41%), Louisiana Downs, Evangeline
— Tim Thornton (7-23, 30%), Evangeline Downs
America’s hot trainers last week
— Jerry Hollendorfer (6-9, 67%), Monmouth, Los Alamitos
— Greg Tracy (5-8, 63%), Louisiana Downs, Evangeline
— Johanna Urieta (4-7, 57%), Thistledown
— Gary Johnson (5-10, 50%), Thistledown
— Kevin Attard (7-17, 41%), Woodbine
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Statistics courtesy of Betmix.com