Submitted by Jim Hurley on Friday, September 26, 2014 at 12:00 AM
HURLEY BREEDERS’ CUP BULLETIN
Volume 12 - Number 3
Friday, September 26
BIGGEST BREEDERS’ CUP CHALLENGE DAY OF YEAR SATURDAY
But Even Bigger Day For Belmont Bettors
6 Graded Stakes Races...4 Bestow Automatic BC Bids
For breeders, owners, trainers and even jockeys the 4 Breeders’ Cup Challenge Races that will be run at Belmont Park and the 5 to be contested at Santa Anita on that track’s opening weekend of the Fall race Meet are most assuredly the focus of attention. For those connections who are looking to move forward and are hoping for one of the guaranteed spots in the lineup for their corresponding Breeders’ Cup race, Saturday is paramount.
However, there will also be a number of horses entered in those races that are primed for this Saturday and this Saturday only. Separating the two intentions is definitely part of the multi-faceted approach to handicapping these stakes races. But most important of all is that the Breeders’ Cup is still 5 weeks away (Friday, October 31 - Saturday, November 1) so what this Saturday is all about is 6 BIG GRADED STAKES AT BELMONT...4 OF WHICH ARE BC CHALLENGE RACES and what that means for the bettor.
BEST HORSES...BEST TRAINERS...BEST JOCKEYS CONVERGE ON BELMONT...
As stated, there are 6 Graded Stakes Races scheduled for Belmont on Saturday with 4 of those (races 7-10) designated as Breeders’ Cup Challenge Qualifiers.
Race 4 - Grade II Kelso Handicap - 1 Mile
Race 5 - Grade I Beldame Invitational Stakes - 1 1/8 Miles
Race 7 - Grade I Flower Bowl Invitational Stakes - 1 1/4 Miles (Turf) - (BC FILLY & MARE TURF)
Race 8 - Grade I Vosburgh Invitational Stakes - 6 Furlongs - (BC SPRINT)
Race 9 - Grade I Joe Hirsch Turf Classic Invitational Stakes - 1 1/2 Miles (Turf) - (BC TURF)
Race 10 - Grade I Jockey Club Gold Cup Invitational - 1 1/4 Miles - (BC CLASSIC)
It is important to reiterate that as high profile as these races are from a Breeders’ Cup Challenge standpoint they should be analyzed as standalone races. This is important because to repeat what I said above, a number of horses in these races are definitely all in when it comes to seeking the qualifying designation, but others figure to be heading to the Breeders’ Cup (based on sterling resumes and field size availability) in any case and are using these races as preps while even other connections have no intention of running in the Breeders’ Cup and are pointing to these high level, big purse races.
There are SIX IMPORTANT STAKES to be run on Saturday so let’s take a look at the fields as key horses look to gear up for the Breeders’ Cup specifically and Fall Racing in general brief order and spend a little more time with the Full Field Jockey Club Gold Cup Stakes.
(ITSMYLUCKYDAY TARGETING SHORTER DISTANCE...FACES 6 RIVALS IN GRADE II KELSO)
Capo Bastone (20-1) - The Street Boss colt is 0-5 in 2014 and even in his only on the board performance was beaten 7½ lengths when second in a third level allowance/optional claimer. He is 0-3 lifetime at Belmont and 0-4 at the mile distance. But trainer Todd Pletcher still keeps him in the upper ranks. Last win was 28-1 upset of the King’s Bishop at Saratoga last November. Leading jock Castellano climbs aboard.
GOLDEN TICKET (8-1) - His win at this distance over this surface in the Left Bank Stakes 3 weeks ago was his first win in over a year and now trainer McPeek steps him back up. He has shown flashes and is best at the mile (4-2-2-0) so can’t be total toss. However, he has had a habit (over a protracted period of time of running good-bad-good-bad, etc and two back was beaten 19 lengths by Itsmyluckyday in the Whitney. Joel Rosario, who was aboard for the Left Bank win stays.
VYJACK (12-1) - Early in his 3-year old career he won the Gotham and ran a good third in the Wood memorial before everything came undone in the Kentucky Derby. He did win an allowance race in his first start of 2014 (April) and has rallied twice at 6 furlongs and 7 furlongs in his last pair so might be better suited at a mile. The question however is class and he has failed at this level.
RIVER ROCKS (5-1) - Trainer John Terranova steps up the son of Western Prize off three straight sprint wins in which he ran to fabulous BRIS speed numbers. In a short 7 horse filed his speed could be well served at the mile even with quick Bradester right to his outside and the figures to be pressing/stalking favored Itsmyluckyday on the far outside. This will be his first career stakes try so class is a question but his ability isn’t. Last out pilot Rajiv Maragh sticks.
BRADESTER (3-1) - The Eddie Kenneally trained son of Lion Heart is in good form now and carried his speed well to win the Grade III Ack Ack Handicap at CD earlier in the month. The colt also showed he belonged with a dogged second place effort, beaten less than 2 lengths by Itsmyluckyday in the Grade III Salvatore Mile three back. Is at the top of his game right now and last out winning jock Corey Lanarie remains.
SCARLEY CHARLY (30-1) - Huge jump in class for this still eligible for NW2X allowance rivals but he has only been in the Hushion barn since early summer and that conditioner has moved more than one seemingly outclassed runner onto higher ground. Based on his running style it looks as though he will sit off River Rocks, Bradester and Itsmyluckyday and if you are looking for that one longshot to fill out the back end of your exotic this one could be that play.
ITSMYLUCKYDAY (4-5) - He won the 9 furlong Woodward and was second behind Moreno (who is one of the favorites in the Jockey Club Gold Cup later in the day) at the same distance and now trainer Eddie Plesa chooses a softer spot to keep his charge honed prior to the Breeders’ Cup and goes at a distance which gives him the option of the 10 furlong Classic or the Mile Dirt. First things first of course...he has to keep in form in here but it is difficult to see any scenario where he won’t.
(STOPCHARGINGMARIA FACES 6 ELDERS IN TOUGH BELDAME)
ENDLESS CHATTER (5-1) - The First samurai filly has moved from entry level allowance to second level allowance to a $100K Stakes race in improving three-straight-wins fashion. Now the filly makes her Graded Stakes debut vs a tough filed of rivals but on speed numbers actually has a shot at a piece. Trainer Chad Brown has done little wrong at the meet and it would not be a surprise if this gal gets a piece.
TOASTING (8-1) - The hard knocking Tom Albertrani trained filly will go to the post for the 22nd time and look for career win number 6 in this 9 furlong test. The daughter of Congrats tuned up for this with a sharp win in a 100K non-graded stakes over the surface in last and now returns to the level she has struggled at a bit in recent times. Nonetheless, 3 of her 5 career wins have come at Belmont so she has the back class and surface liking to move forward.
STOPCHARGINGMARIA (5-2) - After winning two straight Grade I races at Saratoga (the Coaching Club America Oaks and Alabama) trainer Todd Pletcher had the Tale of the Cat filly entered in the Grade I Cotillion at PARX last Saturday but decided to stay away from Untapable and opt for this spot instead. She’ll not be handed the race but given she has already established her bona-fides, this spot (5 weeks out) and less stressful filed might serve her perfectly leading up to BC action. With only the Outside runner Belle Gallantey indicating any early speed of note John Velazquez should be able to place this tactical filly anywhere he wishes.
STANWYCK (3-1) - Although not a prolific winner (7 races ago in October here at Belmont in a Grade III) the daughter of Empire Maker has hit the board in every race since and every one vs graded company. In her most recent she was third in the Grade I Personal Ensign at Saratoga behind Fiftyshadesofhay, who she’ll meet again today and figures to factor once again.
FIFTYSHADESOFHAY (9-2) - Another capable filly, the daughter of Pulpit has only one win in her last nine races but has faced graded company in each and is a multiple Grade I placed competitor. Trainer Bob Baffert ships her back east after a couple of solid drills at Santa Anita and hopes for as good an effort as she delivered when second in the Personal Ensign at the Spa in her last. Joel Rosario climbs aboard for the first time.
OASIS AT MIDNIGHT (30-1) - The daughter of Midnight Lute looks overmatched in here as she has managed just one win in 10 tries this year and her lone try in graded company resulted in a 22 lengths beaten effort in the Rampart Stakes at GP in March. Touch to endorse.
BELLE GALLANTEY (7-2) - Was ultra impressive in beating Princess Of Sylmar and company in the Grade I Delaware Handicap two back and then was a disaster in the slop at Saratoga in the Personal Ensign in her last. She figures to get fast going again on Saturday and should be able to use her tactical speed to measure the pace from this outside post. Interestingly the 5-year old mare is better now than at any point in her 42 race career (8-12-7) with 4 wins in 6 tries in 2014 and if the favorite falters could find her way clear to win number 5.
(A NUMBER OF DISTAFFERS LOOK TO BLOOM IN FLOWER BOWL)
ABACO (7-2) - The Giant’s Causeway mare should be right at home as she has won twice and finished second three times over the Belmont grass courses and enters following a sharp late-rally win in the Grade II Ballston Spa at Saratoga in her last. The mare will be making her ninth straight graded start and is Grade I placed under the stewardship of Shug McGaughey. She should get a good ground saving trip under Jose Ortiz and figures to get involved late.
MAXIMOVA (20-1) - Steps up in decent enough form to have earned the try vs this kind after third level allowance win in last. The daughter of Danehill is bred for the 10 furlongs and has improved as she has been lengthened by trainer Christophe Clement. Lightly raced she has won 4 of 8 lifetime and you could do worse than backing a 20-1 shot from this outfit.
VIVA RAFAELA (5-1) - The Brazilian bred Todd Pletcher trained daughter of Know Heights figures to take them as far as she can on the lead and after staying on to place at 12 furlongs and 11 furlongs vs stakes foes in her last two figures to be a player at 10 panels. Javier Castellano was aboard those last two pace trips and figures to send again. Tough to eliminate.
STRATHNAVER (4-1) - The veteran race mare is always a threat to get a piece but is probably a better prospect in a supporting role. The 5-year old mare has only won once in her last nine starts but has hit the board 4 other occasions and has been right there with the likes of Abaco and Stephanie’s Kitten, the second and first ML choices who she’ll see again today. This distance is also a slight question mark but she still figures to be a contender for part of this.
STARSTRUCK (20-1) - The Galileo mare appears hard-pressed against these as her steady diet of Grade III rivals has been the pinnacle and she has but one win and no other on-the-board finishes in her last 4 at that level. She will also be making her first start at Belmont and has only gone 10 furlongs once in her career. Tough to endorse.
WHATSDACHANCES (8-1) - One of three uncoupled Chad Brown trained runners in the field of nine the Irish bred daughter of Diamond Green has hit the board in 11 of 14 career races including a quartet of wins. She is a tough read because she has only won once from 9 starts the last two years but over that course she has never been beaten by as much as 3 lengths. Always close enough to lose she’d be no surprise either on or off the board as she’ll need a good trip for her patented late run under new jock Joe Bravo.
ALTERITE (8-1) - It is likely now or never for the French bred daughter of Literato who is making a third try this year at regaining the form which saw her run a good third in last year’s BC Filly & Mare Turf. Despite disappointing efforts in the Grade I Diana and Grade I Beverly D in her two 2014 starts trainer Chad Brown has continued to work her forwardly and her recent drills have to be considered promising. She was well beaten by stable mate Stephanie’s Kitten in the pair of 2014 tries and will face that one again, but as effective as this conditioner is, especially with turf runners, a wake up would not be a surprise.
TANNERY (15-1) - The 5-year old mare’s better day might be behind her as her tenth place finishes in both the Grade I Diana and Grade I Beverly D would attest. She’ll be facing both Stephanie’s Kitten and even also ran Alterite, each of whom bested her in those tries and trainer Alan Goldberg can only hope that a return to Belmont’s grass, where she has placed in 4 of 6 tries, will revitalize her.
STEPHANIE’S KITTEN - (5-2) - What is interesting about this race is that someone had to be the ML favorite and based on two straight runner up finishes, in the Grade I Diana and Grade I Beverly D that status fell to this Chad Brown trained daughter of immortal sire Kitten’s Joy. You can’t leave her out but the difficulty in putting her on top is she always leaves herself so much to do late. John Velazquez gets back aboard after riding her exclusively prior to Frankie Dettori guiding her in the last pair. She’ll be coming late. Will she get all the way there? Your call.
(RED HOT PALACE AND LAST YEAR’S WINNER PRIVATE ZONE FACE SIX OTHERS IN VOSBURGH)
PALACE (2-1) - With three wins in his last four starts including his last two in Grade I tests this Linda Rice trained son of City Zip could not be in better form. The 5-year old has also posted two wins and a trio of seconds in five starts at Belmont and has continued to work forwardly after his dominant victory in the Forego at Saratoga 4 weeks ago. The horse has also never been off the board (11-6-4-1) at the 6 furlong distance and regular pilot Cornelio Velasquez returns. He is the one to beat.
COUP DE GRACE (8-1) - The 3-year old son of Tapit has won two of his last three and was a hard charging third in the Grade I King’s Bishop at Saratoga ion his last. The Larry Jones trainee has done well since moving to his current barn and at a price could be a solid contributor to the exotics. He has room to improve and probably needs to as he will be facing older for the first time in his career and has only been over the surface once (off the board) and will be ridden by Kerwin Clark who is also unfamiliar with the terrain.
ZEE BROS (20-1) - The Wayne Lukas longshot makes his first start for the venerable conditioner and does so following a no-show performance behind Palace in the Grade I Forego at Saratoga but also following a pair of bullet half miles at CD in succession ( a best of 47 and best of 53.) It would appear as though the son of Brother Derek will need a big wakeup to factor but there have been recent occasions when Wayne has reminded people of his greatness. Oh yeah...and Joel Rosario takes the mount.
SALUTOS AMIGOS (6-1) - The David Jacobson trained son of Salute The Sarge is the kind of runner every vertical bettor loves. The 4-year old gelding has hit the board in six straight sprints at three different distances including three wins and was beaten less than 2 lengths when he lost the whip vs Palace in the Grade II True North here in early June. He is in the best form of his career has worked in hand since his most recent and five of his last six have garnered triple digit BRIS speed numbers. He figures in the mix.
DADS CAPS (12-1) - The Rudy Rodriguez trained son of Discreet cat has not won since upsetting the Grade I Carter at Aqueduct in April. He does have the kind of speed that should put him as part of the pace and his last was an improvement when second in the slop in the Troy Stakes at Saratoga. He does have the back form to support backing but his recent performances vs a number of those he’ll meet again today have been less than confidence building.
HAPPY MY WAY (3-1) - The Joe Orseno trained gelding enters following six straight triple digit BRIS speed numbers and a sharp second behind Palace in the Grade I Vanderbilt in his last. It won’t be difficult to find this 4-year old early on as he has broken on top at first call in his last 4 races and with the exception of the aforementioned Vanderbilt, when he gave it up inside the sixteenth pole he has been in front at every call. Hustling Joe Bravo has been aboard for the last five races (three wins and two seconds) and he’ll once again play “catch me.” The difficulty today both for him and those that have the potential to battle him early such as Dads Caps, Private Zone and Ribo Bobo is that one or more will have to pay the price.
PRIVATE ZONE (7-2) - The 5-year old gelding returns to defends his Vosburgh crown from a year ago that propelled him to the BC Sprint. This will be only the second start since his disappointing 10th place finish at 7-2 in that try and unexpected bounce back second 4 weeks later at 32-1 in the Grade I Met Mile at Aqueduct. To say he is an enigma is an understatement and after a return to the races with an even fourth in a 5 furlong turf sprint at PARX 4 weeks ago will enter here under the auspices of trainer Alfredo Velazquez. He has the speed and has won his only try at Belmont with a 106 BRIS speed number. Your move.
RIBO BOBO (20-1) - More pressing speed should be in the mix as this guy attempts to carry the speed that has seen him hit the board in 17 straight races the last two years, including 13 wins. The argument against him and the reason for his big ML odds is the contention that he has not faced graded rivals but has engaged minor stakes foes during that period. That being said, any horse that can be as consistent as this Louis Quartoze gelding has to be considered regardless of the price.
(SHORT FIELD...SERIOUS TALENT IN JOE HIRSCH INVITATIONAL)
BIG BLUE KITTEN (5-2) (Part Entry) - Coupled in the entry with Real Solution the Chad Brown/Ramsey horse is attempting to find his way back to the BC Turf where he finished a disappointing but not totally terrible 8th (beaten only 4 lengths) a year ago. This will be the third start of the year for the son of Kitten’s Joy and seeing that the BC race was the only time he has failed to hit the board in the last two years (10-5-3-1) he figures to move forward in his final prep before heading to Santa Anita.
REAL SOLUTION (5-2) (Part Entry) - The other part of the Brown/Ramsey entry the 5-year old son of Kitten’s Joy looked to have regained his form when he was a resilient winner of the Grade I Manhattan here in early June. But in the Arlington Million he was a disappointing 7th when he had nothing when asked at the 5/16ths pole. He has turned in 4 useful drills since returning from Chicago and has hit the board in 4 of 5 over the Belmont lawns.
TWILIGHT ECLIPSE (4-1) - After a pair of hard trying efforts (third in the Grade I Sword Dancer and second in the Grade I United Nations) behind projected post time favorite Main Sequence he tries for a third straight time to get it done and figures to once again be in the thick of it in this tightly competitive field. A winner of two straight Grade Races this past winter he was sent to Dubai for the Sheema Classic and has been gradually raced back into form for this. He may very well be sitting on his best and must be considered for trainer Tom Albertrani and regular ride Jose Lezcano.
IMAGINING (3-1) - This Giant’s Causeway veteran also tested Main Sequence in the Grade I Sword Dancer in his most recent and was beaten just a head after making the pace until the final strides of that mile and a half event. Looking at the construct of the field it appears as only Twilight Eclipse has the style to be with him early and if he can walk them through slower than the :47 and 1”12 3/5 he mustered in the Sword Dancer he could be very dangerous in the final furlong. Under Joel Rosario this Shug McGaughey trainee is definitely a threat to steal it.
HANGOVER KID (15-1) - The Jason Servis horse makes his first start since mid-July and looks to improve his Belmont lawn mark to 4 wins from 7 tries. A quick glance indicates that the son of Lemon Drop Kid is stepping up in class following a second ion the Grade II Monmouth Stakes two back and win vs slightly lesser in the Grade II Bowling Green in mid-July. But a deeper look shows that he finished a close third behind Big Blue Kitten at 47-1 and a half length beaten second behind Imagining at 23-1 in a pair of graded tries. Certainly there are less worthy longshots than this guy on Saturday’s card.
MAIN SEQUENCE (2-1) - The 5-year old son of Aldebaran has done nothing wrong since arriving from Europe two races ago. He captured the Grade I United nations by a hard fought neck and survived a hard battle to claim a head win in the Grade I Sword Dancer. Trainer Graham Motion has kept him busy in the morning at Fair Hill but if he wants to make it three straight he’ll have to once again give everything he has against challengers Twilight Eclipse and Imagining who tested him every bit of the way in his last pair.
MEDAL COUNT (12-1) - The only 3-year old in the race, the son of Dynaformer will be making just his third turf start from 11 races but could be the outlier that crashes the party. His third place finish (beaten a length at 25-1 in the Belmont Stakes (my choice to win that race) the Dale Romans trainee prepped for this with a solid second at a mile and 5/16ths at Kentucky Downs and anyone that knows anything about that up and down deep surface hilly course with the longest stretch in the country knows that if it does nothing else it gets horses fit. Don’t be surprised if this guy steps up.
(FULL FIELD OF 12 SET TO LINE UP IN EXCITING JOCKEY CLUB GOLD CUP)
MICROMANAGE (20-1) - After one of his first time starters won a MSW turf race at 26-1 on Friday Todd Pletcher gave an interview to TVG and when asked why he thought this colt belonged in the race he said that he had to for two reasons, the son of Medaglia D’Oro (coincidentally the sire of that longshot turf firster) was working better than he had in some time and that if you look at his form you’ll see that good-bad-good-bad form that a number of horses follow and he is coming off a well beaten third as the favorite in a PARX Stakes race in his last. It’s a good a reason as any.
LAST GUNFIGHTER (20-1) - Obviously trainer Chad Brown is not discouraged by the fact that this 5-year old son of First Samurai has been nowhere in three straight efforts that have included solid performances by a number of rivals he’ll meet again. The trainer does turn them around on a regular basis but it appears as though this guy will have to turn around more than once in order to factor.
WICKED STRONG (3-1) - It isn’t often that you will see a 3-year old, even one as accomplished as this Jim Dandy and Wood memorial winning and Travers runner up being established as a Grade I favorite in his first try vs older horses. But the recent retirements of the likes of game On Dude, Mucho Macho Man, Palace Malice and Will take Charge has left this year’s older division a bit thin so on performance perhaps he deserves it. Trainer James Jerkens has kept the pedal to the metal with a pair of 6 furlong drills heading in and if he improves another step and utilizes his tactical speed behind the pace expected to be set from the difficult outside post by Moreno and to his outside Big Cazanova he could be sitting in the catbird seat from this post, especially in a race that does not have a preponderance of speed. He might be this good. Regular rider Rajiv Maragh is once again in the irons.
ZIVO (6-1) - After 6 straight wins in which he climbed right up the class ladder, including the last two that featured out of the clouds rallies that channeled Forego the NYSB son of True Direction evened out late in a 3 lengths beaten 4th in the Grade I Woodward behind Moreno and Prayer For Relief, each of whom he’ll face again today. Whether he bounced in his last or just was too used up in his prior two wins is unknown but he’ll need a pace to run into and it might now be there...although his :59 2/5 breeze over the surface last Saturday could indicate he’ll be closer to the pace. In any case you can’t knock his heart and he must be a consideration for at least part of this.
PRAYER FOR RELIEF (15-1) - Winless in 2014 from 8 starts this longshot Dale Romans trainee nonetheless has shown enough flashes, such as his third at 25-1 behind Itsmyluckyday and Moreno in the Grade I Woodward in his last to make a player at least consider him as a price play for the minor inclusion in the exotics. John Velazquez must of liked what he experienced when he jumped back aboard in the most recent an returns and the son of Jump Start turned in two terrific breezes over the surface since his last, including a :58 2/5 last Saturday. He is another that contributes to this deep field.
LONG RIVER (30-1) - Maybe trainer Kieran McLaughlin knows something well beyond the past performance lines because this guy’s recent form has earned him every bit of his 30-1 ML. He’s been no better than 5th against this kind in his last 4 including a 13e lengths beat down in the Woodward in his most recent. He is difficult to endorse and if he does turn it around it will be worthy of a few days off...for bettors.
SPEAK LOGISTICS (50-1) - Let’s put it this way, he hasn’t hit the board in 5 tries in 2014 and his last two were vs allowance/optional claimer with speed numbers 15-20 lengths below the mean average of these. He is also 1 for his last 13 over the last two years. Or put it this way...he makes the horse to his inside look like he could be odds-on.
TONALIST (4-1) - Given his struggles to stay in contact with the winners of the Jim Dandy and Travers stakes in his last two...following his stirring Belmont Stakes win the projected 4-1 might be a tad short. However, as was said of Wicked Strong, with the older division not being the strongest it has been in recent years his debut vs his elders in this race might be within his bailiwick. Trainer Christophe Clement adds blinkers for this as both he and Wicked Strong will try to turn the tables on V.E. Day, the upset winner of the Travers, who they will face again today, He does like to be in contact with the field early and in the Travers that may have been his undoing as both he and Wicked Strong chased the early pace of Bayern into the first turn and although they put that one away they couldn’t hold off the long shot winner. If he relaxes with the blinkers he could sit off the outside two runners and be in position to finish as resolutely as he did in the Belmont Stakes...but he’ll do it at a likely shorter than you should get price.
STEPHANOATSEE (20-1) - The Nick Zito trainee probably ran a better race than the past performances indicate for his 5th place finish in the Grade I Woodward in last. The son of A.P. Indy wound up along the inside after breaking slowly from his outside post in the 9 horse field and had to wait on room for a bit before finishing evenly and with some interest. All in all it was an improved effort, especially considering that he significantly improved his speed figure while stepping up from a conditioned allowance/optional claimer to the Grade I race. If he breaks a little better and improves once again while others falter he could be along for the back end of the exotics...but it will take some breaks.
V.E. DAY (5-1) - The third of the 1-2-3 graduates from the Travers there is one thing that is probably worth considering regarding this suddenly emergent winner of that Grade I race in just his 6th career start and first graded stakes. Seeing that he got everything to break for him in the Mid-Summer Derby...what with both Wicked Strong and Tonalist chasing too close to Bayern and putting that eventual Pennsylvania Derby winner away, anything close to the ML in a race he figures as likely to bounce in as improve is a definitive underlay. Can he duplicate the Travers performance and rally into it late? Of course he can. But as often as we’ve seen this scenario before with previous race surprises you should have yourself covered elsewhere if you do use him in the gimmicks.
MORENO (7-2) - If consistent speed and a big heart are your governing aspects for a good race horse than this is your guy. Only a bad start and a bad experiment with the removal of blinkers in the Metropolitan Handicap here on Belmont Stakes day puts a blemish on this guy’s efforts in his last 6 races. He only knows one way to race and that is lay down the gauntlet and put away a number of his rivals until when and if he gives way grudgingly. After wiring the field at 10-1 in the Grade I Whitney at Saratoga he was once again resilient when a half length beaten second behind Itsmyluckyday in the Grade I Woodward after leading every step of the way but the last few. Now he figures to go again and even though he’ll be leaving from a difficult outside post he might be able to get soft enough fractions to be right where he usually is in mid-stretch...on the lead. From there his heart takes over. He is a must include.
BIG CAZANOVA (20-1) - The longshot son of Giant’s Causeway has won 3 of his last 4...all in Southern California and the first question to be asked is why, with the Awesome again Stakes being in run the same day at Santa Anita, a surface over which he has won, and that race is also a BC Classic qualifier, as is this, did trainer Peter Miller ship across the country? That being asked the next question to ask is how he will be able to get the lead on Moreno from an even more difficult post and even if he does go head-to-head with that one to the first turn, what will he have left? Strange entry and difficult to see.