We're headed to Elmont, New York, today, where Belmont Park puts on a very good midweek card with a 3:00 pm first post. The weather will be absolutely perfect, a bluebird fall day, and the dirt will be fast and the turf firm. Let's get right to it.
Belmont Park, Race 1, 3:00 pm ET
$75,000 William Entenmann Memorial Hurdle, 2 1/4 miles (hurdles), turf, 4 & up
We have shades of Saratoga as Belmont kicks off the racing week with a stakes race over the fences. And the Entenmann is a corker: this is as good a jump race as we can remember. 4-Teodoro, who won his last race by nearly 34 lengths, is a solid contender, as are 3-Arch My Boy, 6-City Dreamer, and 8-Snap Decision. Any one of this quartet could take this.
But we're going elsewhere for a winner, and it's with 2-Sportswear. This 4-year-old never made it on the flat; he failed to break his maiden in five career starts, which had to be disappointing to his connections, as his sire is Frankel, one of the top turf stallions in the world. But since he was retired from flat racing, he has found a second career as a jumper: he broke his maiden in April at Middleburg in Virginia, and followed that up with a smart allowance win at Percy Warner Park in Nashville in May. He is trained by Jonathan Sheppard, the maestro of American jump racing, and after a brief freshening following his two wins in the spring, he looks to us to be primed for a big effort. We will bet him to win at 9/2. The bet: Belmont Park, Race 1, $20 to win on 2-Sportswear.
Belmont Park, Race 2, 3:32 pm ET
$62,500 Maiden Claiming, 7 furlongs,dirt, 2-year-olds
A field of eight goes in this competitive maiden claimer, and we like a first-time starter, 5-Liveyourbeastlife. We like this guy because the colts who have run before have not run all that fast, and because trainer Jorge Abreu is an ace with firsters: he's won with 24% of his debut horses on the year. We will bet him to win at 7/2. The bet: Belmont Park, Race 2, $20 to win on 5-Liveyourbeastlife.
Belmont Park, Race 5, 5:06 pm ET
Maiden Special Weight, 1 mile, turf, New York-breds 3 & up
We're expecting a fast pace in this race, as a few of the eight runners like to get out there and wing it early. That should set the race up for a closer, and the best closer in here is the horse on the rail, 1-Jimmy Jazz. He finished fourth in a similar spot last out, but that race was run with a very slow early pace, and he was much closer to the front than he usually is. He's done his best running when he's been able to sit back and make a late run; we think that's exactly the trip he'll get today. Look for him to be rolling down the stretch, and look for fans of the Clash to be cheering him on. We will bet him to win at 3-1. The bet: Belmont Park, Race 5, $30 to win on 1-Jimmy Jazz.
Belmont Park, Race 7, 6:08 pm ET
$75,000 Joseph A. Gimma Stakes, 7 furlongs, dirts, New York-bred 2-year-old fillies
There's a field of six in this race, the lone stakes of the day, and the race is loaded with speed: five of the six runners are either front-runners or pace-pressers. This would normally cause us to look for a a stretch-runner, but one of the speed horses has both the most early speed and the best closing kick: it's 7/5 morning-line favorite 6-Fierce Lady. This speed early/speed late combination is lethal, and even better, she has shown an ability to rate: she can go to the front, or she can sit just off the pace -- she's won both ways -- and she gets the coveted outside post position, which will give jockey Javier Castellano the tactical flexibility to do either. She looks like the likeliest winner of the day, so we will bet her to win, and we will do so enthusiastically. The bet: Belmont Park, Race 7, $50 to win on 6-Fierce Lady.
That's all for today. Good luck at the windows.