Belmont Oaks & Derby

A ton of rain Thursday will be cleared out by Saturday so the Belmont Oaks and Derby should be on a turf course with some give to it. Aidan O’ Brien sends two serious racehorses to compete in the Grade 1 events in filly Santa Barbara and colt Bolshoi Ballet. Ryan Moore who rode Friday at Newmarket is scheduled to make the trip, so you know the intentions are good. That said both races have a few interesting alternatives.

The Belmont Oaks at a mile and a quarter is a nice race.

Con Lima has been nothing but game. She gets red hot Flavien Prat riding for Todd Pletcher and has the rail to compliment her tactical speed. As game as she is, I’ll take a stand against her at this distance.

Cirona comes in from France and is a proven Group 1 runner over there. She gets this distance, will be a fair price and deserves both respect and consideration.

Higher Truth is another who will be a price and is an up and comer for Chad Brown. She steps up off a beautiful trip and set up last time out, but the fact Chad puts her in here shows his confidence in her ability and improvement. Although last race set up perfectly it might have been just what the Doctor ordered. She can sit anywhere Jose asks her to and can finish.

Spanish Loveaffair is a nice filly but doesn’t look this good to me. She gets more ground to work with, but I don’t think that will be enough to get her home first.

Santa Barbara is the one to beat. She runs back quick off a heartbreaking loss at the wire to Thundering Nights and if she runs back to that race, she’ll be tough to beat. For a filly with just one win to her credit she will be a short price. It might not matter.

Nazuna looks like she needed her last race and can go forward here with Johnny V as the pilot. I think she is a cut below the better fillies in here.

Plum Ali was too far back and too wide last out or she would have caught Con Lima. She got wired by a front runner the race prior to that. I don’t think Joel Rosario leaves her as much to do on Saturday as he did last time and I think she can upset the applecart here with a win.

Gam’s Mission is on a roll, but I don’t think she is that good.

With a fair share of options, I’ll take a shot with Plum Ali.

The Belmont Derby is just as interesting as the Oaks.

Palazzi looks a cut below. He would be a surprise to me.

Bolshoi Ballet is going to be tough. He’s no joke and should like the give in the ground. He will be a short price off a bad race is the Epsom Derby but that won’t mean a thing on Saturday.

Safe Conduct doesn’t look good enough to me.

Sainthood is a horse I have been waiting to see o the grass. He had a crazy trip in the Jeff Ruby on synthetic, and the Kentucky Derby was a toss out. Last time in the slop he won in an off the turfer, and Pletcher shows a lot of confidence running him here. I like his chances.

Du Jour is as talented as anyone in this race. He moves from Baffert’s barn to Bill Mott’s. I think he will like the mile and a quarter, and he has Prat. I think he is a major player.

Hard Love will get a lot of support. He is three for four, has good numbers but I am leery and don’t think he is as good as the better ones in here.

Tokyo Gold is hard to gauge. I will call him a question mark.

Cellist is game and finishes good. I think he can get a piece for sure; I don’t think he is the winner.

Hidden Enemy looks a cut below in here.

I am torn between Sainthood and Du Jour. That will be a game time decision for me.

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Jon Stettin

Since childhood, Jon has always had a deep love and respect for the Sport of Kings. His years of experience have earned him a well respected spot in the industry as a handicapper. He now is a frequent contributor to AmWager as well as writing for his own site.

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