There are not a lot of speed horses in this classic route on the Belmont Park turf course but this is a very long race, so it is pretty unlikely we would see a wire to wire win even if a horse was able to grab an easy lead.
It will most likely come from a horse who stays close to the lead, if possible on the inside. The question is who can do it?
The $100 000 prize money attracts a surprisingly large number of fillies who have done a decent job at higher class levels but few who have decisively dominated stakes levels. It is therefore tough to use class to find the winner today…
Moreover, every horse has some shortcomings and even the likely betting favourites have a lot of questions to answer.
It is a very open race and therefore an interesting betting opportunity for those with the guts to bet on some higher odds.
In the 7th race of Belmont Park on July 8 2018, the field notes are as follow:
Number 1, SUMMERSAULT (m/l odds 4-1) was given an extended vacation after a decent showing at the Grade 2 level right here at Belmont Park, parked outside all the way on the tight turns of Belmont Park. That race produced two future winners so it was most likely a good performance by SUMMERSAULT, all things considered. Before that, she won an open stakes so it looks like she is in the right class bracket. She has never won at the distance or at this track but there is no reason to think that she can’t close the deal at some point and today might be the day if she can make ground in the stretch.
Number 2 HOMELAND SECURITY (m/l odds 5-1) is a lightly raced 4-year-old who is stepping up to the stakes levels for the first time. In that race she was the disappointing favorite who lost against two of the opponents today. Maybe HOMELAND SECURITY did not like the yielding turf and prefer a firmer footing. She won twice at Belmont Park so she has some competence, but she might once again be bested by the opponents of last time and maybe by others.
Number 3, FLOWER FASHION (m/l odds 5-1) opened 10 lengths lead against a few of today’s opponents last time out but was almost caught in the end. That French filly might have been favored somewhat by the wet turf as this is a pretty customary condition in French racing. FLOWER FASHION did not do so well in her previous stakes attempts in the USA but came close when racing in France. Distance will likely be OK for her as long as she does not go all in in the first furlongs like last time… FLOWER FASHION might have her place here, but I am not sure I like the bet at the odds of 5-1.
Number 4, NOT TAKEN (m/l odds 8-1) was given almost 3-month vacation after a stakes races at Aqueduct where she failed to impress and did not have many excuses… She has never won at this distance and has never been very successful on long rests. The workouts are not so great, so it does not look to me like she is coming back like a rocket. NOT TAKEN knows how to stay close to the pace though so maybe she has a shot here if the pace is quite weak but overall, she does not look too good on paper.
Number 5 ESTRECHADA (m/l odds 5-2) is coming down in class after a relatively good showing, in a Grade 2 two class levels above. She had an outside trip all the way and by the look of this race she is a notch above today’s opponent Summersault. She has switched trainer since then, not necessarily for better. ESTRECHADA has class, having won a Grade 3 stakes last year but 2018 has been disappointing so far. She has a decent shot today but as the likely favorite in the race, I don’t think she will be a value bet.
Number 6, SILVER STEP (m/l odds 12-1) won a couple of stakes in Europe, one Grade 3, but has not podiums since she moves to the USA in 2018. She does not have much excuse for the loss last time, but she does run for a hot turf specialist and has a bullet to show in the last workout. The jockey pairing is terrible so overall, the chances of SILVER STEP are not particularly attractive but at high enough odds, why not?
Number 7 VIOLET BLUE (m/l odds 7-2) won pretty impressively last time out in a short field but tends to start quite slowly which might be a problem today against a pretty weak pace expected. She also has never won at the distance or at this stakes level so there are some doubts as to whether she can repeat a win today. At 7-2 morning line odds I would not take that bet at least.
Number 8 SAVANNAH BELLE (m/l odds 15-1) is part of the group who almost caught Flower Fashion last time on the yielding turf so she must not be too far from her talent though she never competed at thus class level before. The odds on SAVANNAH BELLE are going to be attractive but it is a big step up for a horse who was running in relatively cheap claiming races 3 months ago. The workouts since last start are nothing to brag about but the jockey pairing is encouraging. Against a field with a lot of doubts, it is not impossible that she surprises.
The morning line odds favourites all have shortcomings and there is no definitive horse above the rest in terms of class, pace or, apparently, form.
In such a case, one can keep the powder dry for a clearer opportunity or swing for the fences on a longshot or on exotic bets including longshots.
I think that a case can be made for two horses that should go off at interesting odds, SILVER STEP and SAVANNAH BELLE.
They are by no mean sure things, but they have some recent form or encouraging signals. Therefore, at likely longshot odds, it can be the right day to gamble on a surprise from them.
I will pair these horses with the more likely contenders and hope that the favorites finish off the board.
JULY 8 BELMONT PARK RACE 7 BETTING PICKS
WIN BET at 10-1 or more on Number 6 SILVER STEP
WIN BET at 12-1 or more on Number 8 SAVANNAH BELLE
Exacta 1-3 with 6-8
Exacta 6-8 with 1-3