Who can go the distance? That’s the overriding question heading into the Belmont Park Late Pick 4 this Friday, June 3. The 50-cent wager encompasses four races at one mile or longer, two on the main track and two on turf, with 39 horses entered. Here’s a look at the action:
BEL 6th race (3:34 EST) -- CRYPTO CASH is clearly the one to beat – but not a solo play in the Pick 4 -- after he won a $32,000 claimer and ran second for $40,000 in two starts for trainer Linda Rice. He benefited from a track bias last out as five of the main-track winners, including the one he rallied outside of, were in the 4-path or wider in the stretch. DIRECT ORDER is 4-for-9 at Belmont and steps up off the claim after he edged away from Winning Drive, a much-improved runner of late since changing barns. TRAPPEZOID back-pedaled on a sloppy track as the 2-1 second favorite in his Belmont Park debut, but he finished first or second in 10 of 15 starts, has speed and lures Irad Ortiz Jr. to ride.
BEL 7th race (4:08 EST) -- HIGHLY RESPECTED overcame a bumpy beginning, awaited room behind a wall of horses near the 3/8 pole, burst clear to a commanding lead and got caught by the favorite in the last stride in the Grade III Bayshore at 7F. VARATTI shook a duel with the 4-to-5 runner-up and edged clear of Wood Memorial winner Mo Donegal and others in a debut maiden win last fall. He returned 6 months later as the odds-on favorite from post 12 in an allowance sprint at Keeneland, only to break flat-footed, stalk the pace 4-wide and prove no match for the 73-1 winner. Don’t discount TOTALIZER at a big price in his first start beyond 7F. His only win was a maiden $10,000 claimer at Delta Downs but he was running at the wire in most of his starts. He gained steadily when third in a restricted stakes race three back, improved after a slow start in an allowance that produced a winner who posted a 91 Beyer and rallied widest for third last out against hard hitting fave Sparky Hale (3-5, $105k).
BEL 8th race (4:40 EST) -- TRENDING swept to command 3-wide to break his maiden on soft footing in a turf marathon at Keeneland, ahead of a 70-1 runner-up and two next-out winners. His dam was Grade I-placed on the Belmont lawn, so he has license to take the necessary step forward and beat this field from a prime rail striking position. Q F SEVENTY FIVE, overtaken in the final sixteenth by Todd Pletcher-trained Aivano (8/2-2-3, $138k), can make maximum use of his speed, as he did in a pace-controlling maiden win to start his 4-year-old season. GUSSY MAC showed some ability at various distances on the turf last fall, meeting the likes of multiple graded stakes-placed Never Surprised, next-out stakes winner Scuttlebuzz and recent starter allowance three-peater Unprecedented. He is a viable longshot in the Pick 4 sequence.
BEL 9th race (5:12 EST) -- Go at least 4-deep in the final leg. HOWE STREET finished with ‘good energy’ to finish second at 18-1 in his debut and continued strong on the gallop out; however, eight rivals in that race came back to run and none finished first or second. GROWTH CAPITAL, a two-time beaten favorite, finished ahead of a next-out Maiden Special Weight winner last out at Keeneland and adds blinkers from post 12 for the red-hot Chad Brown barn. CAUSIN’ MAYHEM rallied inside of odds-on winner and next-out repeater Riot House in his turf debut at Gulfstream Park. OGELTHORPE, a $350,000 sales buy whose dam was stake-placed on the turf, debuts off a series of steady workouts. Trainer Danny Gargan is 14/3-3-2 with first-time starters since September but he is only 1-for-25 with debut grass runners in the last three years, even though 12 were dismissed at 7-1 odds or less. CLUBBING makes his long-awaited debut as a 4-year-old gelding after a lengthy work tab. Trainer Shug McGaughey unveiled two, first-out turf route winners at Saratoga last year – both at 6-1 – to enhance a 5-year run in which his runners showed a positive return on investment with a similar profile. Clubbing is coupled in the wagering with BREAKWATER, who looms a threat if he draws in off the also-eligible list.
Suggested 50-cent Ticket
BEL 6th Race: 2, 7, 8
BEL 7th Race: 5, 6, 9
BEL 8th Race: 2, 5, 10
BEL 9th Race: 1, 3, 6, 11, 12