ELMONT – The Belmont Stakes undercard continues to deliver one of racing’s biggest days.
Saturday’s card will feature nine graded stakes in total, including the four Grade 1 races and three Grade 2 races. The 150th running of the Grade 1, $1.5 million Belmont Stakes, presented by NYRA Bets, is scheduled to go to post at 6:46 p.m. early Saturday evening.
Coverage begins at 2 p.m. on NBCSN and commences at 4 p.m. on NBC.
Belmont Stakes Day will feature the following wagers:
- $500,000 Guaranteed Pick 5 begins on Race 1.
- $500,000 Guaranteed Pick 6 begins on Race 6 (post time 2:34 p.m.)
- $1.5 million Guaranteed Pick 4 begins on Race 8 (3:58 p.m.) and concludes with Race 11, the $1.5 million Belmont Stakes.
New York Giants Head Coach Pat Shurmur will deliver the traditional call of "Riders Up" in the paddock prior to the Belmont Stakes, signaling the time for jockeys to receive a leg up on their mounts as they prepare to parade out onto the track.
Race 3 –Grade 1 Ogden Phipps (Post Time: 12:47 p.m.)
The graded stakes portion of the card kicks off with the mile-and-a-sixteen Phipps. 6-Abel Tasman (8-5) had a tough go of it in the LaTroienne and is the morning line favorite. 4-Pacific Wind (7-2) comes out of a sharp work and a win over the oval in the Grade 2 Ruffian to earn top pick honors. 1-Unbridled Mo (4-1) comes in fresh and should pick up a piece.
Selections: 1 – Pacific Wind; 2 – Abel Tasman; 3 – Unbridled Mo
Race 4 – Grade 1 Acorn (Post Time: 1:24 p.m.)
Kentucky Oaks winner 3-Monomoy Girl (4-5) cuts back to a mile as the heavy favorite. Her main competition should come from last year’s Juvenile Fillies winner 5-Caledonia Road (3-1) who will have Mike Smith aboard the daughter of Quality Road. The Violence filly 7-Talk Veuve to Me (8-1) is a nice price, is lightly raced and should handle the distance for Team Valor.
Selections: 1 – Monomoy Girl; 2 – Caledonia Road; 3 – Talk Veuve to Me
Race 5 – Grade 2 Brooklyn H. (Post Time: 2:03 p.m.)
Last year’s winner 9-War Story (2-1) returns to the scene of the crime for the mile-and-a-half Brooklyn. Baffert will run 2-Hoppertunity (5-2) who won the Jockey Club Gold Cup here in 2016 and has a win at the distance at Santa Anita. 3-Hard Study (5-2) will try to win his fourth in a row for Pletcher.
Selections: 1 – War Story 2 – Hoppertunity; 3 – Hard Study
Race 6 – Grade 3 Jaipur Invitational S. (Post Time: 2:43 p.m.)
Christophe Clement’s 5-Disco Partner (5-2) loves the Belmont turf winning 7-of-11 attempts with two placings. 1-Stormy Liberal (3-1) returns from Dubai and a fine second-place finish in the Al Quoz. Ontario-bred 4-Conquest Tsunami (7-2) closed late in the same race and should compete.
Selections: 1 – Disco Partner; 2 – Stormy Liberal; 3 – Conquest Tsunami
Race 7 – Grade 2 Woody Stephens S. (Post Time: 3:22 p.m.)
The 7-furlong Stephens named after the record-setting trainer who won five Belmont Stakes in a row from 1982 to 1986 is a competitive affair. 11-World of Trouble (7-2) was on the Derby trail earlier in the year and the cutback should suit him well. Long shot 1-Madison’s Luna (8-1) has a decent workout under his belt and you can a draw a line through the Pat Day effort. Pace factor 9-Promises Fulfilled (12-1) will try and steal it on the front end. 7-Beautiful Shot (20-1) was only 3/4-lengths behind Kanthaka in the La Barrera.
Selections: 1 – World of Trouble; 2 – Madison’s Luna; 3-Promises Fulfilled; 4 - Beautiful Shot
Race 8 – Grade 1 Just a Game S. (Post Time: 4:02 p.m.)
The one mile turf mile will have a field of eight contesting for a $700,000 purse. 1-On Leave (9-2) is a horse for the course winning 4-of-5 at Big Sandy. Chad sends out the favorite in 7-A Raving Beauty (5-2), in her second race in America after capturing the G3 Beaugay. 5-Proctor’s Ledge (4-1) comes out of a win on Derby day and jockey Johnny Velazquez looks to capture this race for the third time in his career. 4-Lull (5-1) will be on the engine for Clement.
Selections: 1 – On Leave; 2 – A Raving Beauty; 3 – Proctor’s Ledge; 4 - Lull
Race 9 – Grade 1 Mohegan Sun Metropolitan H. (Post Time: 4:45 p.m.)
Classy 11-Awesome Slew (6-1) will try to upset a superb field in the Met Mile. 10-Bee Jersey (5-1) looks dangerous winning his last three impressively. 1-Mind Your Biscuits (5-2), co-owned by UB grad Dan Summers likely will need a race after his big win in Dubai. Don’t discount 5-Good Samaritan (10-1).
Selections: 1 – Awesome Slew; 2 – Bee Jersey; 3 – Mind Your Biscuits; 4 – Good Samaritan
Race 10 – Grade 1 Woodford Reserve Manhattan S. (Post Time: 5:40 p.m.)
I’ll take the price on 8-Sadler’s Joy (8-1) who is always a threat closing late in these races. 10-Beach Patrol (5-2) has a small case of seconditis, but has only missed the board once in 16 career efforts. Man o’War winner 3-Hi Happy (7-2) comes in off a win over the Belmont grass for Pletcher/Saez. Chad moves up 1-Robert Bruce (3-1) in class on his second start since arriving from Chile.
Selections: 1 – Sadler’s Joy; 2 – Beach Patrol; 3 – Hi Happy; 4 – Robert Bruce
Gene Kershner, a Buffalo-based turf writer, is a member of the National Turf Writers and Broadcasters Association, and tweets @EquiSpace.