Scott Shapiro: Belmont at the Big A Late Pick 5 Analysis | Saturday, July 6, 2024 (2024)

Exciting times on the New York Racing Association calendar with the Saratoga meeting right around the corner. However, there are a couple of big days left at the Belmont at the Big A spring meeting, including a stakes-laden card on Saturday that includes a late Pick 5 sequence that commences in Race 7.

In conjunction with the big day of racing on Saturday in the Big Apple, Xpressbet and 1/ST BET are giving horseplayers a chance to earn a share of two-million rewards points up for grabs. Simply register for the promotion and cash in if you are able to connect on all five races. As often is the case with these no-brainer promotions, I will be jumping in. Here are my thoughts:

Grade Descriptions: Grade A=Highest degree of confidence; Grade B=Solid Play. Grade C=Least preferred or pass; Grade X=probable winner but likely at odds too short to play.

Race 7:
Grade: C+
Main Ticket: 4 Vespucci
Backups: 2 Camm’ Duke; 1 Big Night Out

Forecast: Saturday’s Late Pick 5 sequence gets rolling with a conditional $40k claimer at seven-furlongs over the main track where #4 Vespucci is listed as the even-money favorite in his first start in for a tag for trainer Patrick Reynolds. Reynolds is winless in seven starts over the last 45 days and this colt underwhelmed as the 2-1-favorite against allowance foes at Monmouth Park but this is certainly a decrease in competition from his last race, where he chased undefeated Little Ni around the racetrack. I am slightly concerned that the Empire Maker colt will have too much to do late given a likely moderate early tempo but he simply has been faster than these thus far in his career.

If you are trying to beat the even-money favorite, perhaps #2 Camm’ Duke can bounce back after a stalk and fade effort against better on June 6th. With a clean break, Dylan Davis should have the speed to make the lead from his inside draw. #1 Big Night Out is also an intriguing option. He was outrun in his first start off the claim for Oscar Barrera III back in early June but he cuts back to a sprint, moves back to the main track, and retains the services of Irad Ortiz Jr. The Into Mischief gelding’s lone victory came over this surface.

Race 8: John A. Nerud (G2)
Grade: B-
Main Ticket: 1 Everso Mischievous
Backups: 5 Mullikin

Forecast: This year’s John A. Nerud drew a compact group of five and much like the lower-level event to kick this late Pick 5 off, this 7-furlong dash lacks significant early speed. This should bode well for #1 Everso Mischievous who shook off the rust with a perfect trip workmanlike win against allowance foes at Churchill Downs on May 31. The Into Mischief colt draws the rail and has the tactical speed in this field to be prominent early under jockey Tyler Gaffalione. I like his chances to earn his second graded stakes win and earn his second victory overall at the Big A.

#5 Mullikin has the talent to win this and the speed to make the lead from the outside but he has often struggled to get out of the gate. That said, the Violence colt has done little wrong thus far winning 3 of 7 to date and will be tough to beat if he is able to avoid playing catch up early under Flavien Prat.

Race 9: Belmont Oaks Invitational (G1)
Grade: B+
Main Ticket: 7 She Feels Pretty * pictured *
Backups: None

Forecast: She Feels Pretty heads into her fifth lifetime start a wide voyage in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf away from being a perfect 4 for 4 to kick off her career. The Karakonite filly came off the bench in the Hilltop at Pimlico back in mid-May and showed no signs of rust crushing a field of seven by nearly six lengths in the end under regular rider John Velazquez. With seven weeks since her first start of 2024, the Lael Stables filly should be set for her career best in the Belmont Oaks Invitational (G1) as she tries longer than eight-furlongs for the first time in her career. Single city.

Race 10:
Grade: C+
Main Ticket: 2 Torigo
Backups: 7 Capture the Flag

Forecast: #4 Alexis Zorba makes her first start since mid-May and second consecutive at one-mile over this course after setting the pace in a similar spot for trainer Mike Maker. In a vaccum, that effort was forgivable since the Zoustar colt went quick but overall he is very tough to trust as the 2-1-morning line choice. He is 1 for 11 in his career with six seconds and has really struggled to finish off races regardless of distance. I am willing to take a stand against him in this first-level allowance event in search of some separation within the sequence.

Unfortunately, I did land on the second choice in #2 Torigo who exits the same race as Alexis Zorba over this course on May 18. In that third-place effort, the Munnings gelding worked out a great mid-pack trip under Kendrick Carmouche but was unable to get by the top two who got the jump on him. A two-month break since that solid run at 7-1 is a bit concerning but trainer Danny Gargan is pulling the right strings of late evidenced by his 21%-win rate and $2.25 ROI in 39 starts over the last 90 days. I will also include a wild card in #7 Capture the Flag. The well-bred Quality Road colt has not gotten back to the winner’s circle since his debut victory at Saratoga in July of 2022 but he got a good prep in for new trainer Todd Pletcher last month. Saturday is likely the day If he is ever going to turn things around for his high-profile connections.

Race 11:
Grade: B-
Main Ticket: 8 Prospero
Backups: 6 Side Eye

Forecast: The 11-race card concludes with a maiden special weight event at six-furlongs over the Outer Turf where I will take a swing against the even-money Chad Brown/Klaravich Stable coupled entry of #1 Creditworthy and #1A Research Results. They can win but I prefer #8 Prospero. The No Nay Never colt has only raced once and it came last September here in New York. In that start going three-quarters of a mile over the sod, the former Jorge Abreu trainee raced against the flow against a much-better group than he encounters today. New trainer Cherie DeVaux is having an outstanding 2024 and has proven very capable with horses entering her barn for the first time. DeVaux ships the Irish-bred colt in from Louisville where he is an intriguing alternative to the chalk if ready to fire fresh.

#6 Side Eye is worth including as a backup despite lacking a will to win thus far. He was caught wide throughout in the same turf sprint Research Results and was beaten just a length. He will find his friends eventually.
Good luck on Closing Weekend at the Big A!

Scott Shapiro: Belmont at the Big A Late Pick 5 Analysis | Saturday, July 6, 2024 (2024)
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