In search of fireworks…

Let’s take a look at some of the biggest stakes races of the day:


#2 CONVOCATION finally broke through to get his maiden win last time out after three defeats, all of which came with some notable trouble.  He earned  Beyer figure of 96 for his win last time out and a Thoro-Graph sheet figure of 3, and both of those numbers make him a serious contender here.  The item that puts him over the top in here is that his best running comes when he can lay back off the pace and the glut of speed in here should set up his late run favorably.  #7 SUNDAY SUNRISE is going to be a large price in here and rightfully so as he’s been quite a bit slower than the best in here and is only a N1X winner.  However, after digging a bit deeper he had serious excuses in the two N1X events he tried, and his win last time out may be better than it looks on paper.  His wide trip 4th at Oaklawn and troubled 4th at CD were erased last time out when he scored decisively and he won that race while tracking a very dull pace.  He might be worth a flyer at a huge number.  #1 WARRIOR’S REWARD has been the subject of much consternation this week despite not even running.  He is the colt who jockey Calvin Borel is committed to, which forced him to lose the mount on Ky Derby winner Mine That Bird.  He is a nice horse who has shown flashes of being very good but he will likely be overbet in this highly contentious race.  He will be a big late threat but I’d tread lightly based on the dynamics of this event and his inability to handle softer company last time out at CD.  PICKS: 2-7-1


#5 BE FAIR has faced tougher company two starts in a row and her defeat at the hands of #6 GABBY’S GOLDEN  GAL can be explained away because of the bias on Belmont day.  She has shown flashes of being a good horse as she was a troubled fourth in the Honeybee before respectable efforts against tougher in Kentucky.  The cutback in distance will help set up her late run as will a frenetic early pace.  #2 LUSTER is another cutting back in distance and she didn’t exactly get a great ride last time out.  She moved into the pace too early in the Dogwood and that left her vulnerable in the waning stages.  The Dogwood victor, Hightap, came back to win the Iowa Oaks, so that event obviously had some quality.  She is a big threat on the cutback, especially if she can relax off the pace.  #1A LIGHT GREEN ran her legs off last time out in an overnight stake on this racetrack.  She has been very sharp in each of her last four starts and just might be the speed of the speed in here.  However, if she has to work that hard to get the early lead in here, can she possibly have anything left in the stretch drive?  PICKS: 5-2-1/1A


#2 DRY MARTINI is a classy old gelding who’s picked up a few graded stakes wins in his career.  He hasn’t been out since early May when he won a 3 horse race that had been washed off the turf.  His last triumph before that was in the Stuyvesant and he scored that afternoon because he got a tremendous pace setup.  There’s an excellent chance that happens again as the runner to his inside and a couple to the outside all have a great deal of speed.  #3 IT’S A BIRD has been basically flawless in his last two starts as he scored decisively in the Oaklawn Handicap and followed that win up with a workmanlike victory in the Lone Star Park Handicap.  He had to dig deep that afternoon and the runner-up from that race, Jonesboro, came back to win the Cornhusker Handicap at Prairie Meadows one week ago.  He is versatile and should be in position throughout during his quest for a 3rd consecutive graded stakes score.  #7 REAL MERCHANT ran a good race in the Stymie  in February and recently ran 2nd in the William Donald Schaefer last time out on the Preakness undercard.  He deserves a look in here since he will rate off the pace today in a race that should feature a very hot pace.  PICKS: 2-3-7


A contentious field has been assembled for this event but it is not particularly appetizing from a betting standpoint.  #2 SMOOTH AIR, who’s fresh off a very strong 2nd place finish in the Met Mile (G1) looms a strong favorite as he’s had an impressive 2009 campaign thus far.  He might be a beter animal around one turn and that’s enough for me to give a horse like #1 RUNFORTHEDOE a look in here.  That son of Our Emblem ran a good race in the Oaklawn Handicap, which happened to be his first start on conventional dirt in this country.  He finished nicely considering it’s difficult to make up ground going two turns at Oaklawn.  He was freshened for a run in the Met Mile and his far outside post forced him into a very wide trip.  He ran an even race and was only beaten by Smooth Air by 3 1/2 lengths.  He should get a good trip from the inside and trainer Paulo Lobo has a very good record with horses going 2nd off mid-range layoffs.  #7 KEEP LAUGHING just ran a very strong race going six panels at Belmont and will make his first start around two turns in this spot.  He is bred to handle today’s distance without a problem and should get a favorable trip pace-wise because he doesn’t necessarily have to have the lead.  He’s worked sharply since his last effort and looked considerably more professional with blinkers added.  PICKS: 1-2-7-3


If you don’t think #7 PRESIOUS PASSION is one of the coolest racehorses in the country then you probably aren’t a very fun person.  His win in the Monmouth Stakes last time out was outstanding as he was left for dead in upper stretch but gamely battled back to score by a flaring nostril.  He backed up his victory in the Mac Diarmida, which also came in gate-to-wire fashion while setting impossibly fast fractions.  #2 STRIKE A DEAL is going 3rd off a layoff for trainer Alan Goldberg and this son of Smart Strike narrowly missed in this event a year ago.  He has run two average races since returnig from a layoff but he’s done well in the 3rd start of his form cycle on multiple occasions.  He should get a decent trip in here and will offer some serious value considering the depth of this field.  #4 SPICE ROUTE is another going 3rd off a layoff and he’s also done well at this point in his form cycle in the past.  He is working beautifully and should get a great trip pace-wise considering his best running comes when he sits just behind the leaders and finishes.
PICKS: 2-4-7

There are certainly an abundance of great options for your wagering dollar today as Belmont has a $350,000 guaranteed Pick 4 and Monmouth is guaranteeing $100,000 into their late Pick 4 pool.  Best of luck and Happy 4th of July!


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