Friday, July 6, 2018

Handicappers Corner: Belmont Derby Invitational (G1)

Hunting for the Belmont Derby Winner

By: Michael Amo, ThoroFan Chairman

This Derby with a purse of $1,200.000 presents an evenly matched field of nine horses. The purse structure will payout to the first eight with a range of $650,000 for winning to $24,000 for finishing eights. 

All indications are the weather in New York will be perfect for the race. The turf course this week has been even with winners coming just off the pace. 

The two European invaders, Hunting Horn (Ire) and Kingstar (Fr) will have a weight advantage based on previous races. Hunting Horn trained by Aidan O’Brien and ridden by Ryan Moore tries Lasix for the first time. 

Here is the field:

    1.   Channel Cat (English Channel) picks up 5 lbs. and will be coming-off-the-pace. He has met three others in the race and was not successful. One of Pletcher’s two horses and keeps Luis Saez up.

    2.   Encumbered (Violence) is a California horse that last tried the Penn Derby with little luck. Retains jockey Mario Gutierrez. Tried the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf but was embarrassed by Mendelssohn. Hard to expect much better here.

    3.   Analyze It (Point of Entry) should be on the early lead for this Inner Track event. Will try to take them wire-to-wire. The tougher company may deny him this strategy. Yet with the combination of Chad Brown and Jose Ortiz anything can happen.

    4.   Hunting Horn (IRE) (Camelot -GB) seems to be improving at the right time. Has been running the distance on the turf of recent. He has deep turf breeding. Will benefit with the use of Lasix for the first time.

    5.   Maraud (Blame) is the son of Breeders’ Cup Classic winner Blame. He is stepping-up in class but comes from a strong barn with their go-to-jockey, Johnny V up. Based on PPs he will likely have trouble with the 10-furlong distance. Although he gave weight in the Penn Derby to the winner, Hawkish, he should have shown better. May be patterning in the wrong direction.

    6.   Kingstar (Fr) (Evasive-GB) is one-for-one in 2018 on the French turf winning that one off a long layoff. All his races have been on a soft turf which require some adjustment here if wants to win. Coming up in company with only 3 races in his PPs. Hard to predict.

   7.   Catholic Boy (More Than Ready) won an inner turf race at Belmont. Stretches out another eighth of a mile which may be his fall from grace. Retains jockey Javier Castellano who has shown he can get this one to the Winner’s Circle. Dangerous and the likely favorite.

    8.   Hawkish (Arti Schiller) was impressive in the 8-furlong Penn Derby, but looks like any farther will be too much for him. Yet if he can stay with the field, he has the ability to kick home at the end. Could be the exotics.

    9.   My Boy Jack (Creative Cause) owns the other 10-furlong experience with Hunting Horn, albeit in the sloppy Kentucky Derby. Hasn’t tried running on turf since November of last year at Delmar. His turf experiences have been on California turf courses which play much differently that what he will experience Saturday.


There will be an honest pace on the inner turf course, with a slight advantage to inside-speed-horse. However, this advantage should dissipate after 8-furlongs. Horses too far back will have trouble closing the gap created by the speedsters. The winner is likely to come out of mid-pack as the field turns for home. Expect Analyze and Catholic Boy to set and try to control the pace. Maraud may try to push these two, but only for a while. Hunting Horn should be well positioned to make a move in the stretch, as will Kingstar, Hawkish and My Boy Jack. Hunting Horn should get to the wire first with the other three scrambling for 2nd and third.

Here is how they should finish:
    1.   Hunting Horn (GB) (4)
    2.   Hawkish (8)
    3.   My Boy Jack (9)
    4.   Kingstar (6)

Handigamble play ($100):
$.50 Trifecta Box –4,6,8 & 9 ---$12
$40 win and place on # 4  ------$80
$2 Trifecta Key –4 over (8,9) over (6,8,9) -- $8

Good luck but keep the day job.

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