Over the next two weekends, 41 graded stakes will be run. Many of them will have Breeders' Cup implications. All of them present us with an opportunity to make money. Let's get to work.
On Saturday, Belmont takes center stage with five grade I's on Jockey Club Gold Cup day. Let's take a brief look at each of them and try to put together a winning late Pick 4.
(Current weather forecast in New York for Saturday is scattered thunderstorms and 60% chance of rain).
This is probably the least interesting of the Belmont stakes since it drew only four betting interests and Music Note is 2-5 on the morning line. Anyone going to try to beat her? I'm not. Although I won't bet the race, I will watch it with great interest since I really believe Music Note could be the horse to beat in the Ladies Classic.
Race 7-Vosburgh (start of late Pick 4)
Only a five-horse field but still a challenging race to handicap. Fabulous Strike is obviously the one to beat since he continues to be in terrific form, comes in fresh, and is a head away from winning this race two years in a row. But he is far from a lock in here.
Go Go Shoot draws the rail and will have first jump on the field. He nearly had enough in the Vanderbilt but couldn't hold on. He won't have the luxury of an eight-pound weight break this time however, and that could be a factor. He has never carried 124 pounds. And he gets Maragh for the first time.
If anyone takes down Fab Strike I think it will be Munnings. He cuts back to six furlongs for the first time since breaking his maiden and should be able to take advantage of a hot pace with a late bid. He loves this track and has been facing the best 3-year-olds all season long. He could be tough.
Race 8-Flower Bowl
Tough call here and it's the place where I go deepest in my Pick 4. Strong cases can be made for favorites Carribean Sunset, Dynaforce, and Pure Clan. It may be Pure Clan's turn to run a big one. She didn't have the best of trips when beaten 1 1/2 lengths by Dynaforce in the Beverly D and goes back to a distance she enjoys. If the ground comes up soft it could be to her benefit, as she ran a big one over the yielding turf in last year's Garden City. I give her the slight edge.
I also wouldn't discount Criticism at a price. She'll be near the lead on a course she runs well on and at a distance that suits her. She comes in fresher than many of these.
Euro invader Moneycantbymelove is also a factor if the ground is soft. She ran a big one at Goodwood last out against two very good fillies.
Race 9-Turf Classic
I don't see Gio Ponti getting beat, soft ground or not. Yes, he has to go a distance he's never been tested at before, but he had plenty left in his last two so it shouldn't be a problem. It's also not the toughest of fields. Telling probably won't run back to his last, Presious Passion is likely to scratch because of the weather, and Grand Couturier was beaten soundly by Gio Ponti earlier this summer. If anyone pulls the upset it may be Musketier, who could be alone on the lead if Presious Passion scratches. Still, this looks like a single to me. Gio Ponti and Musketier in an exacta box.
Race 10-Jockey Club Gold Cup
Seems like many think Summer Bird is just too good right now and he will lock up the 3YO championship with another big effort. Not so fast.
If the track is wet Summer Bird certainly will have an advantage, but he isn't the only one who likes an off going. Macho Again is 2-for-2 on a wet track and Dry Martini also doesn't seem to mind it. There is no doubt that Macho Again is in the best form of his career and if he runs back to his Woodward form he should win. Ten furlongs is probably not his ideal distance however, so he may be up against it.
Dry Martini is very tempting. He really likes Belmont and if you are willing to throw out his Whitney he could be a play at a nice price. He's worked sharply since that last race and has a win at the distance. Barclay Tagg sounds confident.
Quality Road is the wild card. He certainly should be better prepared for this one and the third start off a layoff is a nice angle. I have a feeling he will run big.
I think Summer Bird gets beat.
$1 Pick 4 ticket: (3) Munnings, (5) Fabulous Strike/ (1) Caribbean Sunset and Beauty O' Gwaun, (3) Pure Clan, (4) Dynaforce, (5) Criticism, (7) Moneycantbymelove/ (1) Gio Ponti/ (2) Macho Again, (6) Dry Martini, (7) Quality Road.
It's a $30 ticket.
Good luck to all this weekend. What's your late Pick 4? Any other races you like from around the country?