Friday at the track: Garrity picks the opening day of the fall races at Belmont Park
It’s opening day of the fall meeting at Belmont Park. It’s a meet that we look forward to every year, because it is racing at its absolute highest level, and it is not overly long, running this year for just 27 racing dates spread out over six weeks.
We have four plays today, all in the races in New York. The weather should be terrific, truly autumnal, and the dirt fast and the turf firm. Let’s go.
Belmont Park, Race 1, 1:00 pm ET
Maiden Special Weight, 6 furlongs, Dirt, 2-Year-Old Fillies
Only six go in the opener at Belmont, but it’s an extraordinarily impressive group of juvenile fillies, so impressive that we think we will see at least a couple of these in stakes races before the end of the year. In a tough race, we’re going with 2-Exact, a first-time starter for trainer Todd Pletcher. She has a win-early pedigree, as sire Competitive Edge hits with 21% of his firsters, and she has been very impressive in her morning works leading up to this race, especially her last drill last Saturday, when she went four furlongs in 47 seconds flat, the fastest work of the day at the distance. We think that means she’s ready to run here, and we expect her to get a good stalking trip from her inside post, and to win with a big move at the top of the stretch. We will bet her to win at 2-1. The bet: Belmont Park, Race 1, $30 to win on 2-Exact.
Belmont Park, Race 6, 3:36 pm ET
Maiden Special Weight, 1 mile, Turf, 2-Year-Olds
We go from fillies sprinting on dirt to colts on turf: eight juveniles line up here to run a mile on Belmont’s Widener Turf Course. We’re taking a shot against the 8/5 morning line favorite, 7-Scarlett Sky, not because there’s anything wrong with him -- he’s the most logical winner on paper -- but because we think the race is far too wide open to take a short price on any horse.
The pick is 6-Lowcountry, a Godolphin homebred first-time starter for trainer Michael Stidham. He’s extremely well-bred, as all Godolphin horses are, but in addition, we like his workout pattern, especially the fact that she has been training on the synthetic surface at the Fair Hill Training Center in Maryland, as we think that his ability on that surface will transfer well to the turf. Throw in the fact that Stidham is good with firsters, and we’re in. We will bet him to win at 8-1. The bet: Belmont Park, Race 6, $35 to win on 6-Lowcountry.
Belmont Park, Race 8, 4:42 pm ET
Allowance/Optional Claiming, 6 furlongs, Dirt, New York-bred Fillies & Mares 3 & Up
A good field of seven state-breds lines up for this second-level allowance dirt sprint. We like the favorite, 4-Jewel of Arabia. She’s won her last two races, a maiden race and an allowance race, respectively, and we see no reason why she’s not going to make it three in a row. She won both those starts by stalking the pace, and we see a similar scenario, and a similar result, today. She looks like a rapidly-improving 3-year-old, and that reminds us of an axiom we learned a long time ago, but which is still very true today, that improving 3-year-olds in the fall are extremely dangerous. We will bet her to win at 5/2. The bet: Belmont Park, Race 8, $40 to win on 4-Jewel of Arabia.
Belmont Park, Race 9, 5:14 pm ET
Allowance, 1 1/16 miles, Turf, Fillies & Mares 3 & Up
Seven go in this turf allowance, and the six of them who have run in the U.S. are a very modest group, which gives us an excuse to do what we like to do anyway, which is play a European import making her first North American start. In this race, that is 2-Mary’s France, a French-bred 3-year-old filly who starts for trainer Graham Motion after a fair-to-middling three-race campaign in her native France earlier this year. Winning at first asking in the U.S. is not easy, but we think she appears up to the task, partly because Motion is an ace at getting them ready -- he wins at a 28% clip with first-time North American starters -- but mostly because the rest of the field appears very ordinary. We will bet Mary’s France to win at 7/2. The bet: Belmont Park, Race 9, $40 to win on 2-Mary’s France.
That’s all for today. Until tomorrow, enjoy the racing, be safe, and, as always, good luck at the windows.