Here are my picks and analysis for the stakes action across the country on Saturday Sept. 27!
Race 4 Belmont Park
2:27APX Post Time
$400,000 GR2 Kelso Handicap
#7 Itsmyluckyday: Gutsy effort last out in the Woodward, should appreciate the one turn mile of the Kelso. Connections are using this as a tactical prep as a possible stepping-stone to either the Breeders Cup Classic or the Breeders Cup Dirt Mile.
#2 Golden Ticket: Good win last out in the Left Bank Stakes at the one turn mile in which he beat Pants On Fire. Should get a decent enough pace to set up his nice closing kick. He is a versatile type though and can adjust to whatever this field throws at him.
#3 Vyjack: I still have faith in this very versatile son of Into Mischief. He has been running in sprints since his unplaced effort in the Suburban Handicap. I can forgive his effort in the Met Mile as it was a packed field and he had nowhere to go at any point in the running. I like the price I can probably get him at on Saturday as well. He fired a nice bullet on the 19th that will set him up swimmingly for the race on Saturday.
Race 5 Belmont Park
3:00 APX Post Time
1 and 1/8M Dirt
Fillies and Mares
$400,000 GR1 Beldame Stakes
#5 Fiftyshadesofhay: I've always been high on this filly since she was a three year old. Loved her win in the Ruffian at Belmont on May 11th in which she beat Grace Hall and Toasting. She is a tough filly and the sweeping turns at Belmont just fit her. She ran a good second in the Personal Ensign at Saratoga last out, but no one was beating Close Hatches that day. I give her top billing in here, Baffert doesn't send them unless they have a chance, and this one has a huge shot.
#3 Stopchargingmaria: Coming in off a three-race win streak, there is no telling how good this filly is. She has never faced her elders before, but this is a pretty good spot for her to get the experience she needs before she heads to California for the Breeders Cup. This spot comes up a little lighter than expected, but she is doing well and a big win here could set her up for a huge effort in the Breeders Cup.
#4 Stanwyck: Third place finish in the Personal Ensign Handicap to Fifyshadesofhay and Close Hatches should help this filly, who is on the improve. She takes steps forward every time she runs. She has the ability she just needs to put it all together and I think she can accomplish that on Saturday.
Race 7 Belmont Park
4:07 APX Post Time
1 and 1/4M Turf
Fillies and Mares
$600,000 GR1 Flower Bowl Stakes
#1 Abaco: In a hard to handicap field she is one of three that have a win this year in here. It's a bit light for a GR1, but that being said it's still a pretty tough and wide-open field. She gets my pick as she’s the strongest in the field, and she towers over this group.
#6 Watsdachances: Like the explosive kick this filly possesses which should set her up well in here. I love her work pattern and though she hasn't won a race this year she fits in well with this group. She is a live long shot in here to steal the prize at a price.
#5 Starstruck: I can forgive her for her 5th in the Violet Stakes at Monmouth Park last out. She didn't seem to handle the turf that day. With her pedigree she should be able to get the mile and a quarter and at a large price.
Race 8 Belmont Park
4:41 APX Post Time
6 Furlongs Dirt
$400,000 GR1 Vosburgh Stakes
#1 Palace: With two grade one victories this year this one is going to be hard to beat. Linda Rice has handled this superstar to perfection this year, and I don't expect his train to stop rolling here. With a victory here he should lock up and Eclipse Award for Champion Male Sprinter.
#2 Coup De Grace: His explosive late kick makes him dangerous anywhere. The six-furlong distance also seems to play more in his favor as the last time he ran this distance he took down the Amsterdam. I forgive his effort in the Woody Stephans at this track and distance, as it was a relatively large field and he couldn't find the right holes to go through. This is an improving colt and I fully expect him to finish in the top four on Saturday.
#7 Private Zone: Though he only has one start this year in which he finished fourth I still find this gelding incredibly tough in here and I think he has a huge chance to repeat here. Love his last couple works, which should set him up well here.
Race 9 Belmont Park
5:16 APX Post Time
1 and 1/2 M Turf
$600,000 GR1 Joe Hirsch Turf Classic
#5 Main Sequence: He has simply been unbeatable this year, and that's all I have to say about him.
#3 Imagining: He's very tough to beat on his home track as he's only missed the board once here and that was in the Joe Hirsch Turf Classic last year, but he is a different horse this year and I fully expect him to run in at least the top three.
#6 Medal Count: He loves the turf plain and simple and this distance only helps him I expect to him to at least fill out the bottom of the exotics and at a price. Tough loss last out in the Dueling Grounds Derby at Kentucky Downs he lost by a dirty nose. Look for him to take a step forward in here.
Race 10 Belmont Park
5:50 APX Post Time
1 and 1/4 M Dirt
$1,000,000 GR1 Jockey Club Gold Cup
#11 Moreno: I agree wholeheartedly with his trainer Eric Guillot this horse is a mile and a quarter horse. He just needs to find his rhythm and in this field that seems to be lacking in the speed department he should find his rhythm and kick away from this field just like he did in the Whitney two back. Ran his eyeballs out last out when he was beat by Itsmyluckyday who opted for the Kelso instead of this tougher spot. Moreno is dangerous especially at a track he seems to have an affinity for.
#2 Last Gunfighter: I can't fully trust the three year olds in here so I landed on this one who seems to always show up big when you least expect him to. Though he hasn't been really on point this year he's had a pretty good forward progression in his works and I expect him to take some steps forward in here.
#10 V E Day: Loved his Travers effort, and I think this one is still improving of the three year olds in here I think he has a major chance to at least run in the top three, and at a decent price.
SANTA ANITA STAKES ACTION
Race 5 Santa Anita
2:30 APX Post Time
1 and 1/16M Dirt
Fillies and Mares
$300,000 GR1 Zenyatta Stakes
#4 Beholder: I don't see anyone stopping her in here. She should cruise like she did last year, and set her up for a rematch with Close Hatches in the Breeders Cup Distaff.
Race 6 Santa Anita
3:00 APX Post Time
1 and 1/16 M Dirt
2 year olds
$300,000 GR1 Frontrunner Stakes
#7 American Pharoah: there is no telling how good this one could be, he needs to prove he can run on dirt and this looks like the perfect spot for him to show what he's got. Though you wont get a price on him he still offers some value.
#2 Lord Nelson: I go with the other Baffert runner in here Lord Nelson. His pedigree screams dirt and he was pretty good last out in his debut. You should also be able to get a decent enough price on him.
#1 Texas Red: A lot of these in here have a turf heavy pedigree, but this is one who doesn't. He's never set foot on dirt, but many of these haven't and I have to give him shot based on pedigree alone. He also has a win at a mile, which is another, plus for him. Could be a live long shot here.
Race 7 Santa Anita
3:30APX Post time
1 and 1/4 M Turf
Fillies and Mares
$300,000 GR1 Rodeo Drive Stakes
#13 Miss Serendipity: She looms large in here, and could be real tough to get by in the stretch. I look for her to pick up a grade one here and loom large in the Breeders Cup Filly and Mare Turf. She's not a huge price but she will be ultra tough in here.
#9 Irish Mission: Always tough she is another that looks tough. She had a very nice win last out in the Glens Falls. Look for her to come charging down the stretch in here.
#3 Moulin De Mougin: Took down the Mabee last out and looks pretty tough in here. She got loads of ability and with Mike Smith up she will get every chance to take down this one.
Race 8 Santa Anita
4:00 APX Post Time
1 and 1/8 M Dirt
$300,000 GR1 Awesome Again Stakes
#4 Shared Belief: Hard to argue against this one has no kinks in the armor so far, and the scary part is we don't know how good this one could be. With Mike Smith up he will get every possible chance to win, and his versatility makes him a weapon wherever he ends up on the track.
#6 Majestic Harbor: A return to dirt may be just what this horse need he did not handle the synthetic last out. His closing kick is explosive and he is dangerous in here. You should get him at a nice price as well.
#7 Mystery Train: With no one seeming to want the lead except for this one he may get an easy lead and bust away from them. I forgive him for his last effort when he was sent after Game On Dude, and if he came out of that effort okay he may be real tough in here and at a nice price.
Race 10 Santa Anita
5:00APX Post Time
1 and 16 M Dirt
$300,000 GR1 Chandelier Stakes
#2 Conquest Eclipse: One of the few in here who has actual dirt experience ran a good third in the Del Mar Debutante last out so she has the class to compete here. Mark Casse is always dangerous in these two-year-old races and this one looks ultra tough.
#4 Angela Renee: Has run some good races at Saratoga this summer, and is on the improve. She should also appreciate the increase in distance and looks to get better as she gets older.
#7 Morning Coffee: She improved on dirt and moved up quiet a bit on it I also like the price I will get on her so I give her a major chance in here. She also has the pedigree to love the increase in distance so I give her a huge long shot look in here.