Familial and travel commitments mean that Brian’s Pick 4 preview is on hiatus this week, but fortunately for us, we’ve got his preview of the two-year-old stakes at Belmont.
The Grade I, $440,000 Frizette for 2-year-old fillies at 1-mile.
1. Annie’s Melody: Enters off just a 5 ½-furlong maiden win at Monmouth over seven weeks ago, and as easy as it was. she takes a monumental step up in class. Respect former Mott assistant Nicks, as he knows what to do with a young horse, but feel this is just asking a bit too much from this filly as this stage of her career.
2. Devil May Care: Another recent maiden graduate, but she did it in solid time at Saratoga after breaking slow from inside over a sloppy track, so it’s worth quite a bit more. Just love how Pletcher has handled her, as there was plenty of time in between the maiden win and the Matron, yet he elected to pass and wait for this spot that was obviously going to be much tougher. That speaks volumes. Major chance to pull the upset.
3. Nonna Mia: So what was it: racing experience, Lasix, Belmont or all of the above? Whatever it was, this filly absolutely freaked in her local bow when she ran off from six rivals in extremely fast time. Stretches out today and meets winners for the first time, but don’t forget these 1-mile runs at Belmont are basically just long sprints since they are around one turn.
4. Awesome Maria: Looked great winning the Matron here last month, but be careful, as aside from the heavy favorite, Worstcasescenario, there wasn’t much quality to the race. And all that gal did was run about 4 furlongs and throw out the parachute while being eased. So you can respect the win, but take it with a grain of salt as well. With that being said, there’s no reason she can’t double up here; you know she likes the track, the distance should be no problem, and she might even get first run on ‘Mia. Big shot to repeat.
5. Touching Beauty: Entered the Matron off a Spa maiden win in slow time, so the fact that she finished second after a troubled start hits on the weakness of the race. But still, that was only her second lifetime start and first versus winners, so it was pretty darn solid when you get right down to it. She’ll have to improve again, which isn’t out of the realm of possibility. Not the worst stab in the world.
6. Franny Freud: State-bred hasn’t let that stop her from rattling off three wins in four starts at a number of different venues and surfaces, so you have to applaud her versatility. She figures to be closest to Nonna Mia early and if you are looking to beat that filly, this gal may hold the key to your success. As for her own win chances, she’s going to have to put that rival away and then hold off the closers; not really the recipe for success, is it?
7. Worship The Moon: Third in the Matron and she also had a tough trip after steadying and then being shuffled back at the half-mile pole. Who knows what she could have done with some clear sailing? Drew beautifully in here, so we’ll find out if she’s good enough to threaten this kind. Not out of the realm of possibilities, but siding against on the win end.
The Grade I, $400,000 Champagne Stakes for 2-year-olds at 1-mile.
1. Super Saver: Well-bred colt is out of a dam that is a full-sister to talented runners Accelerator and Daydreaming, so the fact that he ran off with a maiden win should come as no surprise. The fact he did it in the mud makes even more sense, but also makes you wonder what he can do on a fast track (his maiden run was on a course listed as good). Obviously he’s headed in the right direction, and note the maiden win came over the course and distance, but he meets some serious runners who have already shown they won’t blink when facing Grade I types. Passing today but remembering the name for down the line.
2. Overlap: Thought he’d run much better in the Hopeful, but it appears it was just too much too soon after just one lifetime win. Nice to see Tagg regroup and aim for the moon once again, but no doubt this is a mighty tall order. Not to mention this is probably the best 2yo race of the year. Thinking there’s ample talent here, but it might take a start or two more before we see the brunt of it.
3. Aspire: The running line says “split horses, rallied,” but go back and watch it and you’ll see a lot more. Classy colt looked like he was heading for a last-place finish entering the far turn yet somehow found more, and a lot of it, and after weaving his way through traffic, he ran on through the stretch in an extremely promising effort. No doubt the waters get deeper here, and he was beaten pretty easily by Dublin, but thinking we haven’t seen the best of this colt just yet. Eligible to pull a mild upset with clear sailing and another move forward.
4. Discreetly Mine: And well bred as the rail is, this colt wins the award, as he’s a half-brother to the ridiculously talented Discreet Cat. And judging by his first four starts, he appears to have some talent as well. No disgrace running second to D’Funnybone in the Futurity and he’s another that probably could have been closer with a better trip. Gets an additional furlong to work with today and that should only help. He could also find himself in control of the splits early, which would rate as an important tactical advantage. Adds to the appeal of an extremely contentious race.
5. Dublin: What do you know, D. Wayne’s got another serious runner on his hands. His Hopeful was a powerful performance and the neat thing is that it’s not like he had things all his own way; far from it. He stumbled at the start from a wide draw, ran near a hot pace while wide on the backstretch and then lodged his winning move widest of all on the turn. The real treat was when he leveled off in the lane, re-broke and then drew clear. The added ground is only going to help, as will his stalk-and-pounce running style and he also drew the perfect attack post. Looks poised to assert himself as the country’s best main track 2-year-old.
6. Homeboykris: Ah, God bless “trainer’s speak.” Dutrow’s telling anyone who will listen that this colt could be better than D’Funnybone. In case you haven’t been in the loop, that runner ran off with the Saratoga Special and Futurity and is headed to the BC Juvenile as one of the choices. This colt? Oh, he broke his maiden at Calder in July. Point being, he might be the next Secretariat, but as far as the afternoon goes, he’s yet to do much of anything. And with all the jabbering and publicity, even if he is your guy, you won’t get fair value at the windows. Willing to side against.