Two Day Carryover
By John Piesen:
What with the Yanks collapse and the NBA nonsense, New York sports fans are starving for action these days.
And so it's Belmont Park to the rescue Thursday afternoon with a two-day Pick Six carryover of $102,902 up for grabs.
But as if hitting this gimmick isn't hard enough, a forecast of rain threatens to force a switch of one or more of the four Pick Six grass races to the main track. And, if NYRA past performances hold up, we won't know until the last moment the fate of those four races.
With that in mind, let's take a look at the sixpack, which kicks off with race four at 2:35 p.m. Eastern.
If this mile maiden-special for fillies and mares, three and up, stays on the grass, Striking Wonder and Passionate Gold, a pair of 3-year-olds who, between them, have finished fourth four times in a combined five starts, are the plays.
Castellano and Nakatani, the hottest riders on the premises, are the respective jocks. Jim Toner trains Striking Wonder. He used to train Passionate Gold.
Striking Wonder, by Gone West, was well-bet in both starts last spring down south, had traffic problems both times, and has been training well for the Darby Dan folks for her return.
Bizzy Caroline, the blowout winner of Striking Wonder's second start, has since developed into a stakes-filly.
Castellano (agent Muzikar) chooses Striking Wonder over Splendid.
Passionate Gold, by Mr. Greeley, has the advantage of a race over the course for her high-powered new connections, trainer Pletcher and owners Flay and Weisbord.
In said race, Passionate Gold closed widest and fastest for fourth as the second choice.
If the race is switched to the main, the MTOs -- D'oro Princess and Double Foxxy -- become the plays. The Princess, Nakatani's second call, has hit the board in four of five starts, all on fast dirt.
With six first-starters, including the uncoupled Big City Boy and American Buffalo from Chad Brown, this six-furlong grass maiden-special for New York-bred 2-year-olds is the proverbial crapshoot. Unless, of course you have a Crist-sized bankroll, and can afford to hit the "all" button.
If the race stays on the turf, Synthesizer, Sleepy Freud and Win for the Zipper (you gotta love that name) are viable candidates. Of the three, I prefer the Zipper, a Toner-trained gelding who had a rough trip in his well-bet debut.
Your MTOs are Think I'm Hooked, who would be the speed from the outside, and Irish Etiquette, who has a glorious pedigree (Rockport Harbor out of a Valid Expectations mare) for a state-bred.
The Flying Zee entry of 3-year-olds Those Lion Eyes and Lady Vi jump off the page in this $25,000 claimer for New York-bred fillies and mares, 3 and up, at six and a half furlongs, but only one will run because Curatolo is named on both.
When they did run coupled, at 3-5 back on June 2, Those Lion Eyes went wire to wire, beating Lady Vi by four lengths.
Those Lion Eyes has not raced in the ensuing four months, but is training lights-out for Carlos Martin. Lady Vi has started three times for trainer Serpe since that June race, including a close-up third in similar company last time.
Lady Vi is by Tale of the Cat, and Those Lion Eyes is by Lion Heart, Tale of the Cat's son.
Jocky Dominguez chooses No More Stress, idle 17 months, over Stellaluce, claimed last out by the lovely Linda off an 11-length track score in the mud.
That said, the pick here is Lady On the Run, the back-class, and in-form closer in a race packed with speed.
Grass or dirt, trainer Parisella is sitting pretty with Skinny Peter in this quarter-claimer for 3 and up scheduled for a mile on the Widener Turf.
Back in the spring, the 3-year-old ridgeling beat better at Louisiana Downs, and, in his first start for Johnny P, who, last week, celebrated his 70th birthday, and the Kupferbergs, was a fast-closing second this company in the Belmont mud. Dominguez sticks.
A Rod's recent form is no better than his two-legged namesake, but this may be the day he runs back to that mid-June splendor in the Belmont grass.
I got burned with Adam Rides Again on Super Saturday, but you always have to respect Maggi off the claim.
My Piano Man and Settle for Medal, the two MTOs, are super-dangerous geldings from the Hennig and Bruce Brown barns, respectively, if the race goes to the main.
Speaking of Bruce Brown, will Tale of the Cat's old groom have Rigby ready off the six-month layoff for this quarter-claimer for 3 and up at l 1/16 miles on the dirt which passes for a feature?
The 4-year-old speedball is 4-for-5 at the distance, and first-time Castellano.
Distant Sky's only win this year came in an off-the-turfer at Monmouth in fast time. Cinder Cone rarely runs a bad one. Joan's Choice is first-time Nakatani.
Zimmer should improve for Clement/Bravo in his second start off the layoff.
The presence of Castellano will make Far Isle the choice in this $20,000 claimer for 3 and up scheduled for a mile on the Widener turf.
But note that, two races back, Far Isle was beaten a length for second by Sister Berta, who is 20-1 on the program for this race.
Three Jersey shippers -- Cass, Rogue and Far From Shy -- all have a shot at a price.
If the race comes off, Freud's Notebook, one of the two MTOs, will have 'em all over a barrel with Dominguez.
Meantime, Tizway journeyed down the Thruway from his Saratoga home to work a mile in a bullet 1:38 2/5 for trainer Bond on Wednesday morning at Belmont.
At this point, I have no idea whom I'll pick in the Breeders' Cup Classic, but Tizway sure has to be a factor off his Met Mile and Whitney scores. He missed the
Jockey Club Gold Cup with a fever so he'll come to the Classic off a four-month layoff..but he has a history of racing well off the layoff (see the 2010 Kelso).
At this point, Vegas is offering 8-1 on Tizway, well off Havre de Grace at 3-1 and Uncle Mo at 4-1. Of these three, who (if any) really wants to go a mile and a quarter?
It's significant that Vegas isn't even bothering to post a price on HDG for the Ladies' Classic.
In case you missed it, the Breeders' Cup will be expanded this year to 15 races for its second straight running at Churchill Downs -- six races on Nov. 4, and nine on Nov. 5. The Classic will be run as race 10 on a 12-race card on Saturday.
My Breeders Cup full cards are available here online, or you can call 1-888-612-2283, and check out my daily picks at Belmont, and we'll see you back here next Thursday as the countdown continues toward the Breeders' Cup.
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