The Empire Distaff is one of the best stakes races for horses bred in New York. In today’s field we have multiple horses with a realistic shot at winning it and it is therefore a very interesting betting opportunity. There might be a bit of track bias at Belmont Park favoring horses on the lead or close to it, but multiple horses have a versatile style which should allow them to be in the mix. In what order will the horses be at the turn is another, very important question…
The likely favorite is a puzzle and if you, like me, think that we might not see the best of her, there is a lot of value in betting other options.
Analysis and picks for the 9th race at Belmont Park on October 20 2018:
Number 1, FROST WISE has not raced this summer but shows some good workouts leading to this one. It is the first time she comes back from such an extended vacation and we must assume that FROST WISE had some physical ailments that kept her away from the track. That’s not super encouraging. Her trainer is doing well recently and is good at bringing back horses to the track after a break however and today he hired one of his most trusted jockeys to ride her. FROST WISE has the class to win here and she has the speed to lead too but the return for the break worries me a bit and I suspect that she will be bet heavily. I think there is value in passing on her today.
Number 2 TAKE CHARGE AUBREY came close to winning at this class level two months ago, but it was a race for horses of 3 years old and today she takes on the older mares who will have a physical advantage. TAKE CHARGE AUBREY loves it at Belmont Park and shows the best speed figure last out so she will likely be bet heavily. Her versatile style and post position should allow her to be near the lead so that’s a plus, but a couple of other horses have already had the best of her in previous races and there are other threats on top of those. TAKE CHARGE AUBREY has a chance but I think that she will be overbet and there is value in leaving her out today against the older mares.
Number 3, PINK TWIST finished third in a short field, far away from two of the opponents of today and she would therefore need to turn the tables mightily to have a chance. PINK TWIST never came close to the speed figures she would need to win today, and it will be her first start after a break to boot… Seeing PINK TWIST winning today would be quite a plot twist.
Number 4, HAY FIELD was claimed by new owners earlier this year and that has changed her fortunes greatly. She went on to win 5 races, albeit at lesser class than today’s stakes race. HAY FIELD has a come from behind style that could pay off if the pace is red hot, but I am not sure it will be as most horses are able to stay tame and versatile in the field today. Also of concern is the fact that HAY FIELD would be stretching up in distance quite a bit compared to her recent races so the stamina might be in doubt. Still, there is no denying that HAY FIELD’s recent performances qualify her as contender for this race but at a relatively short price, I am siding against her.
Number 5 ROSYJERSEY took a stab at a New York state bred stakes on a minor track this summer and did not demerit but of course that was a much cheaper race and she did not win it. It was a much improved performance for ROSEYJERSEY and if she can repeat, there is maybe a place for her on the podium. If the odds remain the same at about 15-1 or more, there is value in having her on the exotic betting tickets.
Number 6, FROSTIE ANNE took a bit of a break after beating a couple of today’s foes in a similiar stakes race for New York bred horses. That win was her second in a week so maybe she did deserve some vacation time. With decent workouts since, it looks like she is ready to go again. FROSTIE ANNE has a lot of early speed and she has a good post position to get well positioned by the first turn. She is a very consistent horse too, so it would surprise me if FROSTIE ANNE did not end up on the podium at least but she might be too small a price to bet on straight.
Number 7, ENGLISH SOUL beat a couple of today’s opponents in a stakes race for New York horses but that was a race for three years old. Today she will have to race some more experienced and physically developed mares. ENGLISH SOUL has not reached speed figures close enough to today’s par to qualify as a contender in my book and we should let her mature some more.
Number 8, TIZNOW’S SMILE has not done great in any of her stakes efforts but the most recent of those was last year so maybe she is ready for more today. Her last race was very fast in any case and if TIZNOW’S SMILE can repeat it, she can win it. To repeat it she will have to dodge a few bullets however. First of all, that last race was an outlier, performance wise, and maybe she will bounce down after that effort. Second, the distance is quite long and TIZNOW’S SMILE never did very well over a mile. Third, her come from behind style might not be best today considering that there is speed but reasonable speed in the race. All in all, it is not impossible for TIZNOW’S SMILE and at the right price he has a place on the exotic bets.
Number 9, SPLIT TIME is another horse facing older mares for the first time and she got beat by two others last time too so that’s not very encouraging for her chances today. SPLIT TIME has a come from behind style that should not be particularly favorable in this one wither. Her trainer and jockey are both having a terrific week so maybe the barn success will have rubbed on SPLIT TIME but this race just looks too hard for her.
Number 10, BLUEGRASS FLAG makes a return to the track after an extended vacation and it is not like she was burning it up over the summer either. BLUEGRASS FLAG seems to have trouble finding her preferred distance or track and I doubt that she will find it today.
Number 11, LAND MINE has yet to win a race in 2018 but she came relatively close in August against two of today’s foes. She disappointed in her next start and there is no strong reason to believe that she has progressed since then. On the back of her steady speed figures and near win against the favorites, I expect LAND MINE to be bet to too low a price and I am not going to step on it today without a lot of value at the betting window.
Number 12, BONITA BIANCA gave turf a try last month and apparently hated it, so it is good to see her back on the most familiar dirt surface. But BONITA BIANCA is a pretty inconsistent horse overall, going from track to track and distance to distance with varying levels of success. She has won at the distance last year but most recently found more success on shorter and her last tries at routes have been pretty poor. BONITA BIANCA works for a hot trainer who likes to mix things up but with her come from behind style and so much uncertainty, I think there is value betting against her today.
The number 6, FROSTIE ANNE should manage to grapb the lead or stay so close that she should have part in the finish. I think that she has a great chance today with her tactical speed but in such an open race I would not take too small a price on the win ticket.
A couple of horses can claim a podium and spice up the exotic bets if they can repeat recent performances. TIZNOW’S SMILE steps up in class but impressed last time and the come from behind style can be useful to grab a place on the podium even if it is not the best to win today.
ROSYJERSEY was given a break after a very speedy performance on a minor track and it looks like she should be able to stay close to the lead and grab a podium at very interesting odds.
OCTOBER 20 BELMONT PARK RACE 9 BETTING PICKS:
WIN BET at 4-1 or more on Number 6 FROSTIE ANNE
Exacta Box 6-8-5
Trifecta Box 6-8-5