Friday’s Belmont Stakes weekend kickoff features a stellar day of racing at Belmont Park, topped by the Acorn Stakes (Race 9 of 11, post time 5:14 pm ET). The 1-turn race at 1-1/16 miles (a new distance this year from it's traditional mile trip) serves as the fillies’ follow-up to the Kentucky Oaks and Black-Eyed Susan Stakes.
Horseplayers betting Belmont Park on Saturday this week can enjoy up to a $10 money-back special on win bets in all races if those selections finish second or third.
Let’s meet the contenders for the Acorn Stakes:
#1-Dorth Vader (John Velazquez/George Weaver)
Kentucky Oaks fifth-place finisher changes barns from her Florida-based former trainer Michael Yates to NYRA-based George Weaver. Also gets a new pilot to Hall of Fame rider John Velazquez – who has won the Acorn a record-tying 5 times. Upset March’s Grade 2 Davona Dale at 46-1 odds at Gulfstream when last seen in a 1-turn race like the Acorn. Expected to be pressing the early pace from the rail.
#2-Randomized (Manny Franco/Chad Brown)
Field’s most lightly raced runner with just 2 starts (joining Goodgirl Badhabits and Accede), including a March 31 maiden breaker at Aqueduct off of a layoff of more than seven months. Filly she beat last time returned to run second in another maiden contest at 2-5 odds. Daughter of Kentucky Derby winner Nyquist is out of a half-sister to millionaire earner and Florida Derby runner-up Smooth Air. Trainer Brown won this race in 2019 with Guarana and 2021 with Search Results. Expected to contest the early pace.
#3-Frosty O Toole (Luis Saez/Todd Pletcher)
Flat sixth in the Gazelle Stakes at Aqueduct in her first start since moving from trainer Mike Dini’s modest Tampa Bay Downs operation. Trainer Pletcher’s resume includes 3 Acorn wins (1998, 2007, 2015). $35,000 sales purchase won back-to-back maiden and allowance races on the Gulf Coast to rise from obscurity in the sophomore class. Sire Frosted’s signature victory came over this track and 1-turn mile trip in the 2016 Metropolitan Mile – by a whopping 14-1/4 lengths. Should be well off the early pace and hoping to rally.
#4-Occult (Jose Ortiz/Chad Brown)
Busanda winner this winter at Aqueduct comes off of back-to-back starts at 1-1/8 miles, but did break her maiden in December at the Big A’s 1-turn mile trip. Dam Magical Feeling was a former claimer who developed late and became a Grade 2 Barbara Fritchie sprint winner and earner of more than $500,000. Trainer Brown won this race in 2019 with Guarana (teamed with Jose Ortiz) and 2021 with Search Results.
#5-Munnys Gold (Irad Ortiz Jr./Todd Pletcher)
Smashing winner of her first 3 starts by 38 combined lengths, she was shocked at 2-5 odds in the Eight Belles Stakes on Kentucky Oaks Day at Churchill Downs. Runner-up by a head that day, but showed determination when tested for the first time. The Acorn will be here farthest test after back-to-back sprints at 7 furlongs. Trainer Pletcher’s resume includes 3 Acorn wins (1998, 2007, 2015). Jockey Irad Ortiz’s lone Acorn win came with Sweet Reason in 2014. Expect her on the lead Friday.
#6-Pretty Mischievous (Tyler Gaffalione/Brendan Walsh) *pictured above*
The Kentucky Oaks heroine scored a 10-1 upset from post 14 on the first Friday and May and now looks turn back in distance for the first time since October. She won both 1-turn races to open her career, but will face her toughest test around a single bend in the Acorn. The last filly to win the Oaks-Acorn in succession was Monomoy Girl in 2018, just after Abel Tasman turned the trick in 2017. She’s 4-for-5 lifetime with jockey Gaffalione in the saddle, including an 8-1 upset in the Fair Grounds Oaks.
#7-Goodgirl Badhabits (Jevian Toledo/Brittany Russell)
Field’s most lightly raced runner with just 2 starts (joining Randomized and Accede), the Maryland-based raider has won both starts at Laurel Park by 12-3/4 and 10-1/4 lengths. This will be the first stakes attempt for the daughter of Mastery, who won all 4 starts in an injury-shortened career, culminating in the 2017 San Felipe. ‘Badhabits’ has had some, finding trouble exiting the gate in both outings. The cleaner she breaks, the closer to the early pace of Munny’s Gold you can expect.
#8-Accede (Flavien Prat/Chad Brown)
Rallying third-place finisher of the Eight Belles Stakes on Kentucky Oaks Day, she finished 1-3/4 lengths behind fellow Acorn rival Munny’s Gold in that one. Field’s most lightly raced runner with just 2 starts (joining Randomized and Goodgirl Badhabits). Trainer Brown won this race in 2019 with Guarana and 2021 with Search Results. She’s out of the outstanding Juddmonte racemare Jibboom, a stakes winner around 1 turn and 2 on multiple surfaces. Accede should be doing her best running late in the race.