(Photo by Bob Mayberger/Eclipse Sportswire/Breeders Cup)
The first “Super Saturday” of Breeders’ Cup prep races will be held this afternoon, and Belmont Park in New York has put together a terrific day of racing that includes an all-stakes Pick 4 to end the card. The results look potentially chalky, so let’s see if we can’t put together a winning ticket while keeping the cost at just $20.00…
Vosburgh Stakes (gr. I)
The obvious favorite in this six-furlong sprint is #2 El Deal, who enters off three straight wins by a combined 18 3/4 lengths, including an eight-length romp in the Alfred G. Vanderbilt Handicap (gr. I) at Saratoga that yielded a 110 BRIS speed figure. However, he got a pretty easy lead in that race, and the Vosburgh field is absolutely loaded with speed, which could potentially compromise El Deal’s chances. Therefore, we’ll also include #1 Stallwalkin’ Dude, a talented deep closer that loves Belmont Park and six-furlong sprints, #5 Mr. Crow, a three-year-old that has won two straight races by a combined 17 1/4 lengths (while not changing leads either time), and #6 Celtic Chaos, a consistent New York-bred sprinter that steps up in class after winning three of his last four starts.
Pilgrim Stakes (gr. III)
It’s hard to go against Chad Brown in major New York turf races, and my thought here is to take a stand with #5 Voting Control. The son of Kitten’s Joy earned an impressive 99 BRIS speed figure in his debut going a mile at Belmont on September 10th, in which he raced significantly wider than all of his rivals, but still rallied to win with a final quarter-mile in :23.55 seconds per Trakus. None of his rivals in the Pilgrim have earned a BRIS speed figure higher than 85, and Voting Control holds a significant edge in Prime Power as well. I don’t think he’ll be beaten today.
Beldame Stakes (gr. I)
We’ll look to keep our Pick 4 inexpensive by singling again in the Beldame. #1 Elate is only three years old, but she kept excellent company at Saratoga this summer and defeated next-out Grade 1 winner It Tiz Well by 5 1/2 lengths in the Alabama Stakes (gr. I) last month. She received a 108 BRIS speed figure for that effort and looks like a standout on paper; with a good trip, I think she wins again.
Joe Hirsch Turf Classic (gr. I)
In what might be the most competitive race of the sequence, I’ll lean heavily on the two sons of Kitten’s Joy, #3 Oscar Performance and #4 Sadler’s Joy. The former won three straight races this summer, including the Belmont Derby (gr. I) and Secretariat Stakes (gr. I), and while he’s facing older horses for the first time and stretching out to 1 1/2 miles, his tactical speed could give him a huge advantage in a race that figures to unfold at a modest pace. Sadler’s Joy produced a big rally to win the Sword Dancer Stakes (gr. I) at Saratoga last time out (earning a 103 BRIS Late Pace figure) and is 3-for-4 going 1 1/2 miles; I expect him to unleash another big finish today. For a little extra security in a wide-open race, I’ll also include the Chad Brown-trained trio of #1 Money Multiplier (close runner-up in the Sword Dancer), #5 Beach Patrol (narrow winner of the Grade 1 Arlington Million last time out) and #9 Fanciful Angel (the late-closing runner-up in the Arlington Million).
Rather than play a straight Pick 4 using all of my above-mentioned selections, we’ll split the play into two tickets to try to balance the potential payoffs just a bit:
$1.50 Pick 4: 1,2 with 5 with 1 with 1,3,4,5,9 ($15)
$0.50 Pick 4: 5,6 with 5 with 1 with 1,3,4,5,9 ($5)
Good luck, and enjoy the races!