To rain or not to rain . . that is the question. Both Belmont and Laurel got significant thunderstorms on Thursday afternoon. Belmont cancelled their final race of the day rather than move it from, at best, a yielding turf course to a sloppy sealed main. Although the rains should pass, there is no decision as of right now whether the races will stay on the turf Friday. This gives the punter the opportunity to search for the “fake-MTO”. Fake-MTOs (Main Track Only) used to be far more prevalent when tracks drew the MTOs into the outer stalls like the A/Es but now that they draw into the field at most tracks they are not as common.
So what is a fake-MTO? It is a horse entered as if to run on the turf but will be scratched if the race stays on the turf unless the field is greatly reduced for some reason. Trainers use this on days when the rains may come mid-card since MTOs are scratched at the start of the race card if the turf is on. If the last had gone off Thursday at Belmont on the dirt, many of the turf horses would scratch due to track surface change but somebody would have been happy . . . the fake MTO.
Picks for Friday, May 31, 2019
Mostly sunny and cooler. The rains should be gone!
Belmont Race 2 (2:02 p.m.)
2 year old maidens, NY bred! 5 firsters! And no Wesley Ward! After dominating the 2 year old maiden races so far this year, Mick is shocked to see a 2 year old race with no Wesley Ward entry. At least Todd Pletcher has two in here. 2-Managing Risk looked to be getting experience in his first run and Pletcher is better second time out (30% vs 22%) but 4-Papa King gets both John Velazquez in the saddle (Pletcher’s top 1 rider) and has an excellent work tab. 6-Theitalianamerican almost won in this race last out and has a good work since. 7-Turbo Drive gets the outside post, has solid works, and is from a dam that gets precocious offspring. Look for the stalking trip under jockey Kendrick Carmouche.
Belmont Race 2
$10 W/P/S 7-Turbo Drive
$2 Exacta [6/7]-[4/6/7]
$1 Trifecta [6/7]-[4/6/7]-[4/5/6/7]
$0.10 Superfecta box 4,5,6,7
Laurel Race 3 (2:15)
Another 2 year old maiden race without Wesley Ward. But lots of trainers that are successful with juveniles. This is an open $40K maiden claimer but Maryland breds can waive the claim. 2-Quad Eights ran two good races in special weight company but shows up here for the tag even though he is eligible to waive. Is that a big for sale sign? Possibly, but the horse only cost $5500 so maybe the connections are fine with the 7+x return. 3-On the Turf made up ground in his first start and should be better for the experience. Dam’s winners are precocious. 4-Get There John ran behind the 3 last out and may end up doing it again.
Laurel Race 3
$10 W/P/S 3-On the Turf
$2 Exacta box 3,4
$1 Trifecta box 2,3,4
Belmont Race 5 (3:40): 8-It’s a Shaw Thing towers over these on the drop. Belmont doesn’t offer a lower maiden level so if she can’t make it here, she will need to make it elsewhere.
Belmont Race 7 (4:45): 2-Poker Game is second off the claim for trainer Mertkan Kantarmaci and that gets a 19% win rate. Take the 15/1 and try to suck out.
Laurel Race 6 (3:45): 5-The Great Casby won this race last out, gets the same trainer/jockey combo, and has been very consistent for a long time so a drop in form is unlikely. That should be enough.
Laurel Race 7 (4:15): 4-Revolutionary Road is the only likely horse in this race that will pay much. The turf try last out needs to be discarded no matter what the pedigree says. Should be rolling late as trainer Robert Vukelic’s horses usually are.