In the meantime, I built my tickets for Saturday around Brilliant Speed and was really impressed by his Bluegrass performance after stalking a slow pace to win at 8.5 furlongs and think he'll appreciate the extra distance.
Sticking to my Triple Crown race budget of $100, I cobbled together $97 worth of selections, playing a lottery-like $8 Pick Six ticket (with 4 singles and two races with two horses) more or less for the fun of it, the Belmont, two Pick 3s and the late Pick 4, but I would advise reading these with extreme caution, rather than my rose-colored glasses:
- Race 6 - The TVG Acorn, $2 Pick Six: 3 with 2 with 1,7 with 5 with 7,9 with 5 (Total: $8)
- Again, this is akin to playing the PowerBall, but I do feel pretty confident in singling Wildcat Brief in the True North (Race 7), considering his strong close first off a 7-month rest on May 14 in the Decathlon at Monmouth, which favored front-end speed that day; Wildcat (8-to-1 M/L) made up 8 lengths to finish second by a length-and-a-quarter to winner This Ones for Phil, who is part of a 2-to-1 entry this Saturday with D'Funnybone. But, first, I need to hope Savvy Supreme can knock off 3-to-5 favorite Turbulent Descent in Race 6 (The Acorn). My single on Strike the Bell (12-to-1 M/L) in the Just A Game in Race 9 is more of an endorsement of the Ramon Dominguez-David Donk connection, and I'll single Brilliant Speed in the finale. I just really do not like the Pick Six sequence, particularly the turf races filled with a lot of the usual suspects who take turns winning every third or fourth time out; but, for $8, what the hay.
- Race 7 - True North Handicap, $1 Pick 3: 2 with 1,7 with 1,5 (Total: $4)
- Race 8 - Woody Stephens, 50-cent Pick 4: 1,5,7 with 5 with 7,9 with 1,5,9 (Total: $9)
- Not in love with either of the top two choices - Travelin Man (2-to-1 M/L) and Arch Traveler (5-to-2), but need to include these to escape the first leg. I've been burned by Justin Phillip (NYRA analyst Andy Serling's call on Thursday's race chat) a few times before and landed instead on J J's Lucky Train at 6-to-1, figuring the horse has to be decent after finishing second to Wood Memorial winner Toby's Corner and Belmont Stakes entry Monzon earlier in 2011.
- Race 9 - The Foxwoods Just a Game, $1 Pick 3: 5 with 7,9 with 1,5,6,9 (Total: $8); $5 exacta box 5-1 (Total: $10)
- I am more than willing to let Gio Ponti (6-to-5 M/L) beat me in leg two, figuring it will be tough for this $5 million-plus winner to bounce back from a 10-week layoff after running in the Dubai World Cup on March 26. Prince Will I Am (5-to-1 M/L) was in tight early in his last effort on May 7 and I expect will get a better trip this time around. Straight Story (12-to-1 M/L) otherwise looked appealing to me, and trainer Alan Goldberg is 5-for-9 early in the meet.
- Race 11 - Belmont Stakes (Total: $58)
- $10 exacta box 1-5 (Brilliant Speed-Master of Hounds)
- $5 trifecta box 1-5-9 (includes Animal Kingdom)
- 50-cent superfecta box 1-5-6-9 (includes Nehro)
Best of luck to everyone getting involved in the Belmont card this Saturday!