Athena (10-1) comes from behind and charges to an upset victory in the 2018 Belmont Oaks (Susie Raisher)
Athena (10-1) comes from behind and charges to an upset victory in the 2018 Belmont Oaks (Susie Raisher)|Associated Press

Thoroughbreds Saturday - McMudder Picks Belmont Park, Laurel, Monmouth, Delaware Park, Parx

Mick McMudder

Mick McMudder

All handicappers spend a lot of time looking at track variability with dirt track condition. Mud vs. slop vs. fast vs. good can be well-documented for most runners but what do you do for turf condition?

The frequent storms over the last week have been just enough rain to change turf condition without taking the races off. As the summer moves forward, this may happen more and more since racing secretaries are using the turf to boost field sizes and taking races off insures a field size drop. Even Delaware Park, the local venue with the most turf races on an old turf course, ran on a surface rated as soft.

Taking a cue from our friends in the UK, there are three things to keep in mind when racing over softer turf. The first is action. Horses with higher action tend to clear the turf better and move up with softer going. The second is post position. If there is any slope to the track, finding the right path is paramount to success. With every track using movable rails, that path will be highly variable but finding it can be hugely profitable. The last is familiarity. Look for horses training where they may have exposure to softer going. That means at a farm or a track with a turf gallop like Delaware.

Weather: Sunny, humid, chance of storms. Rinse and repeat for the next 60 days? It is scheduled to rain at every venue. The question will be when.

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Belmont Park Race 7 (4:30 p.m. ET) – Belmont Oaks Invitational

Start of a series of significant turf stakes on a huge card at Belmont. These turf races will stay on no matter how soft the going may be. As of this morning, the turf is firm and the Inner turf at Belmont is taking water very well. Still, the advantage goes to fillies that have handled multiple turfs. 1-Olendon certainly fits the bill as a winner on both good and soft courses in France. Distance should not be an issue, either. 2-Newspaperofrecord was an excellent 2 year old that has yet to win at 3. She has run two good races but her peers may have caught up. The distance is definitely a big question. 6-Just Wonderful appears to be the better of the Aidan O’Brien invaders but this one seems better suited to the mile. Should guarantee an honest pace. 9-Cambier Parc may have passed her stable mate based on recent form and gives trainer Chad Brown a very good 1-2 punch in here. This filly’s ability to rate gives her a huge shot in here. Needs a few of these to justify the $1.25M price tag but she is moving in the right direction.

Belmont Park Race 7
$10 W/P/S 9-Cambier Parc
$2 Exacta box 2,9
$1 Trifecta box 1,2,9
$0.10 Superfecta box 1,2,6,9

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Laurel Race 3 (2:21 p.m.)

6-Cobh gets back to the turf for the first time in a long time. Solid in some previous turf outings but new connections win first off the claim and the pedigree fits. 8-Lion Lord is a consistent sort and the drop here puts him in the picture. The layoff and terrible recent works are a concern. May need a race. 3-Not a Chance waited for a turf race after just missing in a race off the turf at Pimlico. Jockey/trainer pairing wins at 20%. 2-Greely is Back looks to stay on for the distance, a challenge that may be beyond him.

Laurel Race 3
$10 W/P/S 6-Cobh
$2 Exacta box 6,8
$1 Trifecta box 3,6,8
$0.10 Superfecta box 2,3,6,8

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Monmouth Race 3 (1:42 p.m.) – Irish War Cry Handicap

2-Regally Irish should win this race for karma reasons alone. Same connections as Irish War Cry so it would seem appropriate. The problem is that this guy does not seem to want the distance. Maybe this should have been a 5f race? 1-Don’s Marsh runs for another grand dam of NJ racing and shows a better form cycle coming in here but got crushed last out by the top choice, 4-Golden Brown. Everyone else appears to be here to fill the race.

Monmouth Race 3
$10 W/P/S 2-Regally Irish (heart over head)
$2 Exacta box 2,4
$1 Trifecta box 1,2,4

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Delaware Race 4 (2:54 p.m.) – Cape Henlopen Stakes

Huge race day at Delaware Park so expect the turf races to remain on no matter what the weather is. 2-Canessar has been running with much tougher and gets a break here. Top local turf connections and the absence of 12-Dark Templar (won Friday, scratched here) are positives but the post position is not. Confidence in Feargal Lynch to work out a trip. 3-O Dionysus won this race last year but faces tougher in this installment. Needs some clear grass and a hot pace to get to the front runners. 4-Surprise Twist may appear to be a step behind his stable mate but he is legit despite the move up in class. 5-Manitoulin has new everything for this race but he has lots of back class. Trust these connections to have him ready off the shelf.

Delaware Race 4
$10 W/P/S 5-Surprise Twist
$2 Exacta box 4,5
$1 Trifecta box 2,4,5
$0.10 Superfecta box 2,3,4,5

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Parx Race 8 (4:09 p.m.) – Parx Dash Stakes (G3)

7-Pure Sensation is better than this field but the concern in any 5f turf sprint is the trip. This guy answers the bell every race but will be very short-priced. The pair from trainer Jason Servis, 3-Fig Jelly and 8-Vision Perfect appear to be the most likely upsetters but have a way to go. 5-Long May You Run arrives on the weeds for the first time in a long time for a highly successful trainer that struggles at this level. Pedigree says turf fits.

Parx Race 8
$10 W/P/S 7-Pure Sensation
$2 Exacta box 7,8
$1 Trifecta box 3,7,8
$0.10 Superfecta box 3,5,7,8

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Belmont Race 9 – Belmont Derby (G1)
10-Spinoff makes his turf debut in a G1. He was a not beaten by much in the Belmont Stakes so distance should not be a problem.

Belmont Race 10 (6:18 p.m.) – Suburban Handicap
2-Preservationist springs the upset after late day rains turn the track into a morass. (Mick the meteorologist play…)

Delaware Race 5 (3:28 p.m.) – Carl Hanford Memorial
7-Dr Blarney may be the single horse most negatively impacted by the closing of Suffolk Downs. Good thing this one likes Delaware.

Delaware Race 6 (4:03 p.m.) – Kent Stakes (G3)
8-Solidify was a $7K yearling purchase that already claims a G3 on his resume. At what point do the China Horse Club guys buy this one back?

Delaware Race 7 (4:37 p.m.) − Delaware Oaks (G3)
4-Fashion Faux Pas romped against weaker last time. 5-Jaywalk is a Breeder’s Cup winner so weaker doesn’t fit here. Still look for the upset by the progressive filly

Delaware Race 8 (5:12 p.m.) – Robert G Dick Memorial (G3)
3-Gaining was solid in a tougher spot yesterday despite the distance. Is the choice here on the cut back.

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