The series of bombs that rolled through the Belmont stretch on Saturday afternoon triggered a $930,000 carryover to Wednesday's 9-race card. It's going to be a difficult sequence to hit (aren't they all?) but it could trigger a life changing payout. Entries for the entire Pick 6 sequence can be found via this link to DRF.com.
First things first, this sequence looks tough. Yeah, all Pick 6s are inherently difficult - it's hard enough to hit a Pick 3, let alone to hit two back-to-back. But the Pick 6 at Belmont on Wednesday is about a s challenging as it comes due to two factors: big fields and bad horses. It's one thing to tackle a Pick 6 where there are a smattering of top level N1X allowance fields or the occasional graded stake race tossed in. It's something different all together when you're dealing with maiden claimers and state-breds...or state-bred maiden claimers. Toss in three turf sprints for good measure, and you've got one heck of a Pick 6 to tackle.
I started tackling this Pick 6 by trying to decide where my singles would be...and I ended up going though the card about three times before I had any clue (not a good sign if you're going to try a Pick 6). The fifth leg is a five horse field which would seem to be a good spot to try and find a single, but I found that race too competitive to only come up with one winner. In the end, the two races that I would try to get a single home are the first two legs of the sequence, race 4 and race 5.
UPDATE: Early scratches Wednesday at Belmont:
Race 4: 8-Augusta Dude, 9-Maxahme
Race 5: 2-Mariah Scary
Race 6: 1a-Spencerific, 12-Centripital
The scratch of 2-Mariah Scary takes a potential speed horse out of race 5 and could give an edge to7-Under the Rainbow.
Race 9 is now OFF-THE-TURF. Big change as that will allow 12-Aquit (2/1) to draw in.
Race 6: 2b-Dirt Track Demon
Race 9: 2-Casa Di Vino, 7-Z Cats Meow, 8-Justinline, 10-Ghoul
Big changes in race 9 once it came off the turf.
Race 7: 1-Crescent Moon Dr will race with BLINKERS ON.
I don't think this is a huge change as the trainer of this horse is 1-for-47 with 1st time blinkers over the last five years.
In race 4, the winner of 7-Miss Hanky Panky's (6/1) last try, Spiritual Tune, came right back to win against open company $25k claimers at next asking and scored a 90 Beyer in the process. It's a tough ask to come back and run against the boys, but this field doesn't blow you away with talent and trainer Linda Rice has been pretty good with maiden claimers sprinting on the turf over the last five years (5-for-24, 21%, $2.00 ROI). At 6/1 on the morning line, a single of Miss Hanky Panky is a pure "separator" play. It's tough to try and do that in the first leg but if you miss the Pick 6 it really doesn't matter whether you get knocked out in the first leg or the last - you still lose.
If I were to spread in this race, 1-Montana Knight (5/2) and 4-Macho Joe (2/1) would be logical contenders. Both are dropping in from higher levels (Montana Knight from 65K maidens, Macho Joe from MdSpWt) and both have shown an ability to run fast enough to easily beat most in this field.
My other single is 1-Laylaben (5/2) in race 5. Laylaben finished a good second to Big Brownie after running the fastest final quarter of a mile of the field at this same distance and class level. It's possible that 2-Mariah Scary (great name), 5-Kaffiend, and 7-Under the Rainbow are all going to be involved in the early stages of the race and if that happens, it could be the perfect set-up for Laylaben and Edgar Prado. If she can duplicate that last effort, she should have enough for the win.
You could come up with coverage horses in just about every leg in this sequence, but since most of us don't have $1,000 to blow on a single Pick 6 ticket, we've got to try and trim the fat wherever and whenever we can.
Let's take the last four legs in order.
-Race 6: $35k Maiden Claiming, 6 furlongs (Turf), New York-breds
I came up with essentially five different horses that I'd want to spread to in this spot:
53-Tudor King (10/1), 6-Ponte Vecciho (5/2), 7-Thundering Roar (5/1), 9-Showme Zealous (8/1), and 10-Hooligan's Delight (3/1). There are a ton of 20/1 shots littered throughout this field and I've chosen to ignore all of them. Some possess a few qualities that I like to see in a long shot play but I found it too difficult to make a case for including any of them on the ticket.
Tudor King is taking a big drop and tossing the shades on for a trainer that hits well with those moves (18% win, 65% ITM when dropping from MdSpWt to MdClm; 25% first time blinkers in MdClm races).
Ponte Vecchio takes a drop from MdSpWt to Maiden Claiming after showing a brief bit of speed in his last race. He's also shortening up in distance and should have a fitness edge on a bunch of his rivals.
Thundering Roar is another dropped from the MdSpWt ranks and on occasion has shown signs of life in the early stages.
Showme Zealous is coming off two atrocious performances at Monmouth and Aqueduct, but he's cutting back in distance while trying the lawn for the first time. I'm not sure he's going to love running on the grass, but if he's got a stamina edge he might be able to pick up the pieces at a decent price.
Hooligan's Delight is a logical play off of his last effort where he came up a ½ length short at this level going a mile on the lawn. He's a question mark sprinting (his other sprint tries, even though they were on the dirt, were awful), but he can't be ignored when compared to the rest of this field.
-Race 7: MdSpWt, One mile (Turf), New York-breds
The fourth leg of the Pick 6 is another race featuring New York-bred maidens, this one at a mile on the Widener Turf Course. I found three horses in this race that were a must-use for me: 2-City Whisper (6/1), 4-Tapitdar (9/2), and Adirondack Warrior (3/1).
City Whisper is a first time starter for Linda Rice by City Zip out of a Valid Appeal mare. Rice hits at 16% with a $2.10 ROI over the last five years with first time starters on the lawn. If you just look at races that take place at Belmont under those conditions the numbers jump to a 21% hit rate with a $3.25 ROI. I can't leave out a trainer with that type of history.
Tapitdar didn't have the best of trips and was contending until the final furlong in his last effort. Two races back he unleashed a very strong closing kick in the final quarter mile (23.89 seconds).
Adirondack Warrior was a little rank down the backside and I kind of think that might have caused him to come up empty in the lane when he needed a bit more. The trip note suggests that he was steadied but it looked to me like he was rank and had to be tugged at by the rider. Either way, he didn't have the best of trips. Two races back he pretty much blew the first turn and went five-wide on the final turn but still got up to finish third.
If he can get a good trip, Adirondack Warrior should have every chance to win.
-Race 8: OC $75k/N3X, 6 ½ furlongs
If I had the funds, I'd punch the all button on this race and take all five horses, that's how competitive I found this field. Unfortunately, going "ALL" would pretty much blow up my ticket in terms of cost so I had to pare this down as much as I could. I ended up going with the two inside horses: 1-Starfortoday (2/1) and 2-West Coast Flier (9/5), both of which are coming out of pretty strong 25K Starter Allowance races.
If there was a little more speed in this race I'd go with the 4-Law Enforcement (10/1), but I'm not sure that this closer is going to get enough to run at in this six furlong affair.
-Race 9: $25k Claiming N2L, 6 furlongs (Turf)
The racing secretary certainly didn't make it easy on anyone playing the Pick 6 on Wednesday, and that goes double for the final race on the card, race 9. I went four deep but probably could have gone "ALL" if I had the bankroll flexibility to do so. The four selections are: 1-Pea Stone (7/2), 2-Casa Di Vino (6/1), 7-Cats Meow (5/1), and 11-Nite Spirit (4/1).
Pea Stone's one win over the Belmont turf came by way of a disqualification but she's put up some decent performances on this course in the past. Her last race was pretty much over before the field hit the top of the stretch after she had check very hard while entering the far turn. A better trip in this race should give her a real chance.
Casa Di Vino usually runs a pretty consistent race but she came up with a big zero in her last effort at Aqueduct in late November. The lay-off is a concern but it's not like she's coming back to face Secretariat and Seattle Slew in this race. If she fires, she can run with this bunch.
Z Cats Meow comes out of the same race as Pea's Stone where she also encountered a bunch of trouble. While trying to run down the leaders in deep stretch, a horse crossed over in front of her causing her to steady and alter her course to the inside. The result stood after an inquiry. She was robbed.
Night Spirit returns after a lengthy lay-off and a poor showing in her last race at Laurel. New trainer William Phipps sees fit to drop her into conditioned company for the first time and that should be a big class relief for her.
One filly that I didn't include in the Pick 6 but would love to key in a superfecta play is the 8-Justinline (20/1). This filly has outrun her odds in each of her last two starts by wide margins, both of which were turf sprints. She's 1-for-37 lifetime, so she doesn't warrant a look in the win category, but a superfecta with her keyed in the third and fourth positions might not be a bad idea given her current form, which is the best it's been in a long, long time.
$2 Pick 6: 7 / 1 / 5-6-7-9-10 / 2-4-6 / 1-2 / 1-2-7-11 = $240.00
It's a sad fact of the Pick 6 that you can spend $240 on a ticket and still not feel like you have a good or decent chance to hit it.