- The 2022 Belmont Stakes will be held on June 11, 2022 at New York’s Belmont Park.
- The entire Saturday card at Belmont Park is downright loaded with a total of 8 Grade 1 stakes races plus the Grade 2 Brooklyn Handicap.
- First post for the thirteen race card at Belmont Park is 11:20 AM Eastern.
13 races on the card there are 8 Grade 1 stakes races along with the Grade 2 Brooklyn Handicap. Outside of the two day Breeders’ Cup held annually in November there’s not a single race card in North America that offers as many excellent races as the Belmont Stakes undercard. First post is 11:20 AM Eastern.
Some good news about the weather for Saturday’s Belmont card–they’re now expecting overcast weather but just an 11% chance of precipitation during the day. My guess is the track will be in similar shape to what it was on Friday.
Let’s pull out the NYRA Condition Book and run down the full card for Saturday, June 11, 2022 at Belmont Park. We’re going to cover the card in two parts. Second part at the link below:
The day begins with three allowance races:
The first two races are allowance races using these conditions:
Races for NY bred horses age three years old and up. Entrants must meet several other conditions:
–have never won $15,000 other than maiden, claiming or starter.
–have never won two races.
In the opening race, horses three and up will race six furlongs on the dirt track. Eight runners in the first race with the #7 horse Win For Gold a 2-1 favorite. Worth noting that Kentucky Derby hero jockey Sonny Leon has a mount in this race–he’ll ride the #1 horse Vincent. There’s definitely a lot to like about the favorite. He’s trained by Rudy Rodriguez–another one of those trainers that might not have the ‘brand value’ of a Pletcher or Chad Brown. His ability is well known in New York and heading into Saturday’s card he’s the third ranked trainer at the meet. He’s finished in the money 46% of the time over the L12 months and when paired with jockey Kendrick Carmouche the entry has a field best 86% in the money percentage. Win For Gold has by har the highest class rating in the field (92) and is one of only two runners with a 100+ last pace (123). The other is Tap’n de Bank (122). Win For Gold dropped a 102 Equibase speed figure last time out and there’s not a horse in the field anywhere close. In fact, he’s the only one in the field that has ever had a 100+ speed figure in their career. One thing I look for in races of this type is a horse’s number of previous races. I’ve always tried to throw out horses with a lot of career races. That eliminates most of the field. I do like to look for horses that have improved since moving to a new trainer after a claim. Vincent fits that criteria. He’s improved every time out, though it would hard to not improve for his first race with trainer Oscar Barrera since he broke through the gate and finished 9th. He finished 6th the next time out and won his most recent race. Sonny Leon took a mount on Friday’s card so this won’t be his first look at the track. Unlike the other 20-1 horse in the field, Vincent is definitely getting better. We’ll take a shot at the price and bet Vincent to win, place and show.
BET #1 VINCENT 20-1 TO WIN/PLACE/SHOW
Race 2 is a six furlong turf race for fillies and mares age three and up. Eight runners in the second race with the Todd Pletcher trained coupled entry of Power Agenda and Bright Future the 2-1 favorite. A horse that caught me eye is the #4 horse Strong Quality. She’s finished in the money in all three career starts including a win in her second start, a 1 1/16 mile MSW at Fairgrounds. Power Agenda is coming off a 120 pace figure but that’s the only metric from her previous race that is especially impressive. Strong Quality has a better last race speed figure than the favorite as well as a better career high. Trained by Mark Casse, Jose Ortiz will ride. None of the horses in the field are particularly formidable so we’ll take what looks to be a competitive horse at a decent price.
BET #4 STRONG QUALITY 6-1 TO WIN
PICK 3–RACES 3,4,5
THIRD RACE–THE 92nd RUNNING OF THE ACORN STAKES
GRADE 1–$500,000 USD PURSE
The Acorn Stakes is expected to be a coronation for last year’s Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies champion Echo Zulu. All Echo Zulu has done throughout her career is win–at least up until she failed to hit the board in the Kentucky Oaks. She finished fourth after being caught up in a brisk early pace and fading late to finish three lengths behind winner Secret Oath. She drops down to a mile here to compete in a one turn race. She was 3 for 3 in one turn races during her two year old season including a dominating 7 1/4 lengths win in the Grade 1 Frizette on this track last October.
Echo Zulu appears to be the primary speed in the race as well as the most talented. It sets up well to win for her. Only legitimate competition appears to be the Brad Cox trained Matareya with Flavien Prat aboard. Matareya is three for three as a three year old with wins in the Grade 3 Beaumont at Keeneland and the Grade 2 8 Belles at Churchill Downs. She’s never won at a distance of more than 7 furlongs though she did finish second to Secret Oath in an allowance race at Oaklawn last December. The biggest issue appears to be the likely pace of the race–she needs to come from off the pace to be her best and that would require another horse to try to match speed with Echo Zulu early. Second problem is the price–not much of a value at 6-5. Hard to see any of the other three entrants being a factor. Just can’t get involved with this scenario and these prices.
FOURTH RACE–THE 29th RUNNING OF THE LONGINES JUST A GAME
GRADE 1–$500,000 USD PURSE
Named after the top filly of 1980 and sponsored by the Longines watch company, the Just A Game Stakes is a Grade 1 race held on the turf course over a distance of one mile with a purse of $500,000 USD. The event is open to fillies and mares four years old and up. There are five horses entered with French shipper Speak of the Devil a 1-1 favorite. Chad Brown has three runners in this field–Speak of the Devil, In Italian (9-2) and Regal Glory (6-5). Brown has flat out dominated in turf races for older fillies and mares. The Daily Racing Form reports that there have been 15 such races outside of California this year. Brown has entered a horse in 11 of these race–and won ’em all. We’ll use all three Brown runners in our Pick 3 but otherwise this is a pass.