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Submitted by John DaSilva on Friday, May 11, 2018 at 1:58 PM

John DaSilva All Stakes Preview
Friday, May 11

This year it has taken Belmont’s Spring Meet a bit longer than usual to get into its usual top level, top class racing.

Whether it was the lingering bad weather that postponed barns shipping back from Florida or those that gave their top horses a break began getting them back into training a little longer is hard to say. But whatever the reason, that slumber ends Saturday with a huge 5 Stakes day….4 of them Graded races.

Grade 3 Vagrancy H. – 4 Year Old & Up Fillies & Mares – 6 ½ Furlongs
Run Happy S. – 4 Year Old & Up – 6 Furlongs
Grade 3 Beaugay S. – 4 Year Old & Up Fillies & Mares – 1 1/16th Miles Turf
Grade 3 Peter Pan S. – 3 Year Olds – 1 1/8 Miles
Grade 1 Man O’War S. – 4 Year Olds & Up – 1 3/8 Miles Turf

As I look over these five stakes races Friday morning I only wish it were 2:30 pm eastern time when the first of the five, the Grade 3 Vagrancy handicap will be run.

The vagrancy will be run as race 3 while the other 4 will comprise the Late Pick 4, a pair of Pick 3’s and a trio of rolling Daily Doubles. Let’s take a look at three of the most competitive races.

(Four Shippers Face Last Out Grade 2 Distaff Handicap Finishers)  

The Grade 3 Vagrancy Handicap shapes up as a contentious 6 filly and mare field that will pit Holiday Disguise, a winner of 4 of her last 5, including the Grade 3 Distaff handicap at Aqueduct against Sounds Delicious, a 5 time winner from 7 career starts and length beaten runner up to Holiday Disguise in her last.

It will be interesting to see if Sounds Delicious, who set all the pace after a :44 4/5 half mile and 1:09 3/5 six furlongs before getting caught late in the quickly run 7 furlong Distaff will appreciate the ½ furlong shorter distance and 4 pound weight advantage she gets from Holiday Disguise.

These two will, however, have more than each other to contend with as a quartet of veteran shippers who have amassed an 18 for 43 career win mark with three of them coming in following a last out win.

Kirby’s Penny is an interesting story. Trainer Wesley Ward tried the then filly 4 times on the turf to begin her career. She broke her maiden in her first start but lost her to a 20K claim when she was switched to a dirt sprint, which she won. In the very next race Ward claimed her back for 40K and since then she has won 4 of 6, including an NW2 Allowance/Optional 62.5K claimer. She is also 3 for 4 at the distance and will be ridden by John Velazquez, who piloted her to a pair of Saratoga wins last summer.  

Chalon will make her second start of the year after copping the 100K Primonette Stakes at Laurel on 4/21. Now in the barn of Arnaud Delacour, the daughter of Dialed in ended her 2017 career with a pair of second place finishes in the Grade 2 River Run Stakes and Grade 2 Thoroughbred Club America Stakes.

Trainer Ron Moquett sends in Swing And Sway, a 4-year old Macleans’s Music filly who was last seen winning the Carousel Stakes at Oaklawn. She has good tactical speed for the 6 ½ furlong distance but has shown a much better preference for an off track in her career.

The final aspirant is the Todd Pletcher trained Ascertain, who comes off a 4th place finish in a $100K Stakes at Charles Town. The daughter of Blame’s last win was an entry level allowance/Optional 25K claimer two races back so she will have to prove she belongs.

(Late Involved 3-Year Olds Look To Peter Pan As Solid Belmont Stakes Prep)

While the racing world obviously looks ahead to next Saturday’s Preakness Stakes, 7 colts (the originally entered Diamond King will be headed to the Preakness) will look to make their case for inclusion in the Grade 1 Belmont Stakes 4 weeks form this Saturday.

The $350,000 Grade 3 Peter Pan Stakes will be run at a mile and an eight and has attracted some very promising colts. It will be run as race 10 and is the third leg of the Late Pick 4.

It appears as though the colt to beat is Core Beliefs. The son of Quality Road ships in from California for trainer Peter Eurton. All one need do is look back to the Grade 1 Santa Anita Derby to see why Core Beliefs has been installed as the 2-1 morning line favorite.

His third-place finish in the Santa Anita Derby behind Kentucky Derby winner Justify and his finish 1 ¼ lengths in front of Lecomte Stakes (gr. III) winner Instilled Regard, who came back to run fourth as a longshot in the Kentucky Derby puts him in good company class-wise.

While only a MSW winner last out, Just Whistle. His sire, Pioneerof the Nile, finished second in the Kentucky Derby and sired Triple Crown winner American Pharoah, while Just Whistle's dam--the Street Cry mare And Why Not--placed in several graded stakes races around two turns, including the 2013 Delaware Handicap (gr. I) going ten furlongs. If the colt improves as much as he did from career start number two to his last for trainer Michael Matz he could be this good.

Another consistent enough California based runner is Blended Citizen. Following a win in the El Camino Real Derby at Golden gate trainer Doug O’Neill shipped him east to try and get on the Derby trail.

The son of Proud Citizen upset the Jeff Ruby Stakes at Turfway and then finished 5th in the Blue Grass and wound up at number 21 on the qualifying list. He has not been disgraced in either of his two races on this side of the continent and could be competitive.

High North is another who could be approaching his best race. The son of Midnight Lute showed vast improvement with the introduction of blinkers in his last as the Brad Cox trainee went from an 11 lengths beaten 7th in the Grade 2 Rebel Stakes to an impressive Northern Spur win at Oaklawn.

Long shots Zing Zang, Gotta Go and Transistor will complete the seven colt field.

(Terrific 10 Horse Field Wraps Up Late Pick 4 In Grade 1 Man O’War Stakes)

While only a trio of career Grade 1 winners (Sadler’s Joy, Wake Forest and Bigger Picture) are signed on for the Grade 1 Man O’War, a mile and three-eighths turf test for 4 year old and up males, the field is comprised of a number of consistent and hard knocking grass veterans.

Here’s a brief look from the rail out.

Postulation (20-1) – In his 2018 debut in his last the Harlan’s Holiday gelding ran a solid third behind Scholar Athlete and Wake Forest, each of whom he meets again here.

Sadler’s Joy (3-1) – In the last two years and 10 straight graded stakes efforts the 5-year old Kitten’s Joy horse has compiled a 3-1-3 mark, including victories in the Grade 2 Mac Diarmada two back and the Grade 1 Sword Dancer last summer.

Scholar Athlete (20-1) – The son of Einstein won an upper level allowance/optional 80K claimer in his last and steps up in sharp form for trainer Graham Motion.

Catcho En Die (50-1) – This Argentine bred recently came to the states and was claimed for 40K last out by lower percentage trainer Chatterpaul. He is one of the few who look outclassed in here.

Wake Forest (6-1) – The Chad Brown 8-year old is just shy of a Million Dollar earner and got an easy tune-up for this in an allowance/optional 80K claimer in his last. He is a multiple Grade 1 and Grade 2 winner and placed runner and if he reverts to his best can be there at the finish.

Call Provision (9-2) – The second of a trio of Chad Brown runners the Lemon Drop Kid gelding had to alter course in his 2018 debut, the Grade 2 Elkhorn at Keeneland. He finished first or second in his final 5 starts of 2017 and like his stablemates is in a great barn.

Hi Happy (5-2) – Virtue of his win in the Grade 2 Pan American Stakes on Florida Derby day the improving Pure Prize 6 year old Todd Pletcher trainee has been installed as the morning line favorite.

Bigger Picture (12-1) – The Mike Maker trained 7-year old Silver Badge gelding has been in and out of late but his three works leading into this indicate he may be experiencing fresher and younger legs. And it should not be lost on bettors that he has 7-4-2-0 mark at Belmont.

One Go All Go (6-1) – With his consistent speed he has set the pace and was a winner of the Grade 2 Elkhorn at a mile and a half in his last and a runner up in the Grade 2 Mac Diarmada at a mile and three-eighths and the Grade 2 Pan American at a mile and a half prior to the Elkhorn. Can he steal this?

Money Multiplier (10-1) - The third of the Brown trio, the son of Lookin At Lucky has been given a break after finishing third in the HH The Emirs Trophy Stakes in Qatar. He was off form in three fall races in 2017 so will have to rebound to the form that saw him finish second in the Grade 1 Sword Dancer at Saratoga last August.

This is a great 5 stakes race lineup which I plan on taking advantage of. I hope you’ll join me.

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