By Gene Kershner
Super Saturday at Belmont Park serves up a plethora of graded stakes races, six in total, for racing fans on the east coast this weekend. Starting at 3:09 p.m. with the Grade 1 Beldame Stakes through the Grade 1 Jockey Club Gold Cup which will go postward at 5:49 p.m. each of the six stakes races are Breeders' Cup Win and You're In (WAYI) races.
The Beldame and Gold Cup will be covered in tomorrow's print edition of The Buffalo News so we'll preview the other four races here with our thoughts on the stuffing of the day's Oreo.
Race 6 - Grade 2 Kelso Handicap (1 mile - dirt)
One of the qualifying races for the Breeders' Cup Dirt Mile has attracted seven older males looking for a share of the $400,000 purse. The morning line favorite 2-Graydar (7-5) has not raced in six months since the New Orleans Handicap at the Fair Grounds in March. He is on a three-race winning streak for trainer Todd Pletcher and his only career defeat came at Belmont Park in an allowance race last September. His main two challengers are 1-Easter Gift (5-2), who is coupled with 1A-Jackson Bend; and 5-Souper Speedy (7-2). Is Graydar worthy of a single play in multi-race bets off the long layoff? That's the question in my mind and I think Royal Delta in the Beldame is the better play when looking for a single. I'll likely include Easter Gift, with Mike Smith aboard, who has had success at a mile along with Graydar in the Kelso.
Race 7 - Grade 1 Vosburgh Invitational S. (6 furlongs - dirt)
This race will put the winner in the Breeders' Cup Sprint and is a very deep race. I tend to struggle with the sprint races in multi-race sequences and will spread in this race. 1-Forty Tales is undefeated in two races at the distance for loaded trainer Todd Pletcher and sports a win over Big Sandy on Belmont Stakes day in the Grade 2 Woody Stephens albeit at 7 furlongs. From a pure speed figure notion, it's hard not to include 2-Justin Phillip with Hall of Fame jockey John Velazquez aboard. He touts a 7-3-2-0 record at Belmont Park. Grade 1 Forego winner 4-Strapping Groom who has never missed the board at Belmont, is worthy of a look and will be on my tickets. 5-The Lumber Guy hooked up in a speed duel on Travers weekend off a layoff and could be more of a factor at his favored 6-furlong distance coming in second off the layoff. I could be talked into going five deep in here with 8-Private Zone, but hesitate on west coast sprinters shipping in, although he appears to have the class and speed to contend.
Race 8 - Grade 1 Flower Bowl Invitational S. (1 1/4-miles on the inner turf)
This $600,000 race will put the winner in the Breeders' Cup Filly & Mare Turf on Nov. 1 at Santa Anita. At first glance, the entry with 1A-Laughing (8/5) looks to be the one to beat even though she has lost her only effort at the distance. Her breeding suggests the 10 furlong distance shouldn't be an issue, but the lack of a win gives me pause. Back up selections would include 6-Qushchi (3-1) who should be coming late to catch the front running favorite and Christophe Clemente's 2-Mystical Star (4-1) who comes off a victory at Kentucky Downs. Clemente is a 25 percent winner after winning his last race.
Race 9 - Joe Hirsch Turf Classic Invitational S. (1 1/2 miles on the outer turf)
Another race loaded with quality horses including several Grade 1 winners. This race serves as a WAYI for the Breeders' Cup Turf. I'm favoring the Brown entry (2-Big Blue Kitten, 2B-Real Solution) over the Shug entry (1-Imaging, 1A-Boisterous) and will include 3-Nutello (first time Lasix) and 5-Twilight Eclipse in case a wicked pace scenario unfolds. Little Mike hasn't been himself since going to Dubai in March and King Kreesa seems to be more of a miler. There's lots of speed in here, but the Brown duo looks extremely strong.
It should be a terrific day of racing on Super Saturday, be sure to check out tomorrow's News for coverage of the bookend races, the $1 million Grade 1 Jockey Club Gold Cup and the Grade 1 Beldame Stakes for fillies and mares.