It's Belmont week!
This is a great week, culminating in one of the best days of racing of the year: Saturday's card at Belmont Park in New York features not only the Belmont Stakes, but also a terrific undercard of top-shelf stakes racing. We will dive into that in more depth later, but today is a day for dipping our toes into the parimutuel waters; we'll make a few plays at Indiana Grand, and go up north to play a few at Fort Erie in Southern Ontario, just to keep our handicapping skills sharp for the weekend.
The weather will be fine -- glorious, even -- in both Indiana and Erie. We're handicapping for fast and firm at both places. Let's go . . .
● ● ●
Race 4 (3:39 p.m. ET) at Indiana Grand is a second-level allowance for horses 3 and older. It goes six furlongs on dirt. The pick here is 2-Western Boy. This 5-year-old gray son of Colonel John has obviously had some physical problems, as has only four lifetime starts and was away from the races for nearly two years (from August 2017 until this past April), but he's had two starts since and they've both been good. His last race was 10 days ago, and we like this quick turnaround time -- it shows that trainer Antonio Duran thinks he's fit and ready to go. He has a speed-figure edge on the rest of these runners, and we think that he'll get a good stalking trip from his inside post. We'll bet him to win at 3-1.
Indiana Grand Race 4
$25 W 2-Western Boy
Race 6 in Indiana (4:35) is a $10,000 maiden claimer at 6 furlongs on the dirt, for Indiana-bred females 3 and up. We like the inside horse here, 1-Times Ghost. This 3-year-old filly has finished well back in her three career starts, but they were all in Maiden Special Weight races, and now she makes the biggest drop in racing, from straight maiden to maiden-claiming company. Several of these other runners look like they've even money to lose to the ambulance, so Times Ghost will not have to be the second coming of Ruffian to find the winner's circle here. She gets the services of top Indiana jock Martin Pedroza, which is a positive sign, and we think she's a very, very good bet in a very, very bad field. We will bet her to win at 7/2.
Indiana Grand Race 6
$30 W 1-Times Ghost
Race 7 in Indiana (5:03) is a good race, a 1 1/16 mile Maiden Special on the turf for fillies and mares 3 and up. There are some talented-looking horses in here, but the one we like best is 9-Soul Spirit. This 3-year-old is impeccably bred, by Quality Road out of an A.P. Indy mare, and her first two races, which were both on dirt, hint that she may be a runner on the sod. She's trained by top conditioner Brad Cox, and she looks primed for a big effort today. She'll have to be pretty good to win here, as she's facing a good and deep field, but we feel she is going to be up to the task. We will bet her to win at 7/2, and we will do so enthusiastically.
Indiana Grand Race 7
$40 W 9-Soul Spirit
● ● ●
Race 2 (4:49) is a 5 1/2 furlong dirt starter allowance for horses 3 and up. 1-Colby ol' Fashion is a standout here. He has a huge early-pace advantage here, and is lone speed. He will be in front by himself early, and they are never going to catch up. We'd bet the rent money on this horse, but we think the 5/2 morning line price is likely to be wrong. Since he'll probably be a shorter price at post time, we will merely back him enthusiastically. We'll bet him to win.
Fort Erie Race 2
$40 W 1-Colby Ol' Fashion
Race 5 (6:14) at Fort Erie is a 5 furlong first-level allowance on the dirt for females 3 and up. The pick is the outside horse, 6-Moon Over Victoria. This 5-year-old mare is a stretch runner in a race that looks to have a pace meltdown. We think she will be rolling late, and we will bet her to win at 5/2.
Fort Erie Race 5
$25 W 6-Moon Over Victoria
That's all for today. We'll be back tomorrow with a look at racing around the country, as well as a first peek at Belmont Day on Saturday. Until then, good luck at the windows.