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The Belmont Undercard and Beyond

It’s not quite a Breeders’ Cup card, but there is a lot to like on the Belmont undercard. There are some interesting betting races but I am most looking forward to seeing some of my favorite horses in action.

True North Handicap
Rick Dutrow’s other favorite on the card, Benny the Bull, is back from Dubai. TBA favorite Thor’s Echo is also back from a break, now with blinkers on. The half-blind Storm in May is a longshot in this race (and deservedly so, given his recent form), but I could see him getting up to show. I also like Suave Jazz and hope he gets a piece of the action, but it’s a tough field.

Just a Game Stakes
My favorites for this are chalky as can be – Criminologist, Vacare and Lady of Venice. Still, if Ventura’s odds remain in double-digits near post time, I may put some money on her; I don’t like overlooking Bobby Frankel-trained turf mares anywhere, but especially not at Belmont.

Acorn Stakes
Welcome back, Indian Blessing! This won’t be much of a betting race on paper, but I’m looking forward to seeing the aforementioned filly return.

Woody Stephens Stakes
I like a few longshots in this race — Majestic Warrior and Fatal Bullet. Ready’s Image and J Be K are worthy favorites, but perhaps this will be the race with a little value.

Woodford Reserve Manhattan Handicap
First, I’m very annoyed that Einstein won’t be in this race — thanks again, Midnight Cry! Perhaps they can decorate their jail cells with their expired NY licenses. But I digress; this race is still loaded, most notably with fan favorite Better Talk Now (pictured). Last year I was sure he was a little past his best and he got up to win this race — here’s hoping he does it again. It’s going to be a tall order, though, with talent like Out of Control, Proudinsky and Dancing Forever in the picture. I also believe Shakis and Stream of Gold have been underperforming and could suddenly get it together tomorrow. It should be a great race in its own right; much more than an able warm-up for the main event. I’m still not drinking this, though.

Belmont Stakes
And as to the Belmont itself, if Casino Drive is out (and I hope he is not), I see little standing in Big Brown’s way — but I will be placing some longshot bets on Denis of Cork, Anak Nakal, Icabad Crane and possibly Tale of Ekati, just in case.

Here’s one prediction I can with utter certainty: I won’t be able to do a post-race update until Monday, as I will be busy Sunday watching the US take on Argentina in a friendly at Giants Stadium. This one really is a foregone conclusion: we’re going to lose, and lose big.

See you in New York…

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