First post is 4:23 pm EDT
We have three plays today, all in stakes races, one at Belmont Park, and a pair at Keeneland, which ends its brief summer meeting today. All three are on turf, and we expect firm footing at Keeneland, but softer turf at Belmont, as is explained below. Let’s go.
$80,000 River Memories Stakes, 1 ½ miles, Turf, Fillies & Mares 4 & Up
We love turf marathons, so we’re thrilled to have two of them on the docket this afternoon, with this the first: the River Memories has ten older females lining up to go a mile and a half on the sod. After heavy rains Friday, the Belmont turf was listed as good, and while expect it to have firmed up slightly since then, there should still be some cut in it. This is important, as softer ground makes the twelve furlongs seem even longer, which makes fitness and stamina even more important than it is over firm going.
We like 4-Lemon Zip, who starts for trainer Niall Seville. She’s a 6-year-old Ontario-bred mare, and a specialist at this distance, having hit the board in all five of her career starts at a mile and a half, and that includes a very good third two back, in a race whose conditions (overnight stakes) and turf condition (good) were very similar to what she should experience today. We expect her to run big today, and at her 6-1 odds seem particularly juicy. We will bet her to win. The bet: Belmont Park, Race 8, $40 to win on 4-Lemon Zip.
Grade 3 Kentucky Utilities Transylvania Stakes, 1 1/16 miles, Turf, 3-Year-Olds
The Transylvania drew a good and deep field, with ten sophomore colts headed to the starting gate. We like a horse at a big price here, 10-Kinenos, who goes for trainer Brad Cox. His last race was an absolute disaster: in the Audubon Stakes at Churchill Downs on June 20, he clipped heels with another horse, nearly fell down, and threw rider Shaun Bridgemohan in the process. But he looked like a runner before that, breaking his maiden in his second career start, and winning an allowance right after. He looks like a colt who is headed in the right direction, and we think the shape of the race will favor him, as he’s a closer in a field with lots of early speed. We also like the Bridgemohan comes back to ride. Look for him to be toward the rear early and flying late. At 15-1, we will bet him to win and to place. The bet: Keeneland, Race 7, $30 to win/$10 to place on 10-Kinenos.
Grade 2 TVG Elkhorn Stakes, 1 ½ miles, Turf, 4 & Up
The Elkhorn drew 13 and is a good betting race. The headliners are 8/5 favorite 5-Zulu Alpha, who’s won multiple graded stakes this year, and 3/1 second choice 10-Arklow, who just missed in the Grade 3 Louisville Stakes at Churchill Downs last out. A win by either would not be a surprise.
But we are going with a pace play, and a longshot: the entrants here have less early speed than we have seen in any race we can remember, and we think that 11-Ry’s the Guy is going to set the pace, and will be able to do so while running so easily that the rest of the field will be unable to catch him, especially down Keeneland’s short stretch. You’ll have no trouble finding Ry’s the Guy -- he will be going right to the front -- and we will be betting that he can win the Elkhorn on the front end. We will bet him to win and to place at 15-1. The bet: Keeneland, Race 9, $30 to win/$10 to place on 11-Ry’s the Guy.
That’s all for today. Until the next time, enjoy the racing, be safe, and, as always, good luck at the windows.