To Honor and Serve had a nice race in the Pennsylvania Derby yesterday. Lezcano rode him perfectly and when asked just took command of the race, easily it seemed. The nice surprise was the strong close by Ruler On Ice, it appears he might be rounding back into form off the Belmont victory, it will be interesting to see where he shows again and if Gomez stays with him.
Today we head back to Belmont on this very quiet stakes day. Yesterday was the dirt and today we go back to the weeds, with the John Hettinger Stakes ($100,000), going a mile and an eighth on the inner turf course for filles and mares, 3YO an up (NY State breds). There are eight horses entered with two for the MTO. This is a wide open race to state the obvious. Many have won at this level, all show consistent Beyer’s within the same range, some coming off the bench and others trying to recapture the magic. What it spells is a longshot kind of race. I’m going to present this differently today, going to list out my four contenders and if wagering would watch the tote carefully. I would look for early money and see which one goes into overlay status.
#4 Hessonite ML 8/1
This lightly raced filly has had an excellent campaign as a 3YO, winning three of four, including her last outing at Saratoga at this level. What makes her so interesting is when Dominguez rides she wins, regardless of distance or surface condition. Going a bit longer today, but with her stalker style she could use it. The downside is her ”in and out” Beyer’s, but then again, no one in this group has been a real steady teddy in that area. Dominquez is up and that alone makes her dangerous.
#6 Gitchee Goomie ML 8/5
The obvious favorite and deservedly so, winning the Yaddo ($101,000) last out at Saratoga. She’s been in the money at the G1 and G3 level and good low 90 Beyer’s. Garcia rides her well, the only risk is, like Hessonite, she is a closer and could get into trouble and not get to the line in time. Overall, she looks the strongest on paper.
#7 Akilina ML 6/1
You could call her the “Bombs Away” selection. She hasn’t won in her last 11 starts, been off since May and she has shown very little, so why do I have her in this mix? Call it a hunch play, her workouts have been good, she has won three times at Belmont in the past, and Clement has super good stat’s with horses like this. She may need one under her belt, but her past speed figures, regardless of finish, suggest she can run with this bunch.
#8 Rogue’s Jewel ML 3/1
She is a horse at first glance you could pass on, but the more I looked at her the more interesting she became. Her last outing was a good one, finishing second to Gitchee Goomie in the Yaddo ($101,000. What I like here is that since her connections moved her to the grass, she has really perked up and has one win and two seconds. Castellano stays with her and Carlos Martin is having an excellent 2011 season with a 22% win record with a positive ROI. Her past Beyer’s have been wobbly but since J J has been aboard she has shown consistency. Might be one of those late bloomers and is now ready to assert herself. If she drifts out on the tote, would be hard pressed to pass her up.
Like yesterday, I'll not be posting the Balmoral Pick 4 today. Will return Wednesday with the $15,000 Guaranteed Pick 4 selections.