The field is set for the 152nd running of the Belmont Stakes. There are ten horses participating in the event, which features a million dollar purse. Post positions have been drawn as well, so all that is left to do is opening the gate and they’re off. The most frustrated person in the world going into Saturday must be Bob Baffert. There was a point only a few weeks ago that we were debating whether Baffert will put Charlatan or Nadal in the Belmont Stakes.
How about neither? Shortly after both went down with injuries. First it was Nadal, who had to retire from racing, while Charlatan will be unavailable for the Belmont Stakes and Kentucky Derby. Even before that, there was controversy regarding Charlatan testing positive for a banned substance. On top of that, Baffert watched as Authentic lost to Honor A. P. recently. With Baffert backing out of the equation, Todd Pletcher is going to get the spotlight on Saturday.
There is money to be made before Saturday. Belmont Park is racing on Thursday with ten races scheduled for the card. There is a stakes race at Belmont today, with the running of the Critical Eye for a $125,000 purse. I’m going to attack earlier in the card on the Pick 4 and Pick 5 at Belmont. If you’re betting the Critical Eye Stakes, Ratajkowski and More Mischief are both viable options. Head below for our free Belmont Park Pick 4 and Pick 5 selections for June 18, 2020.
Pick 4: Race 2-5
Pick 5: Race 1-5
Post Time: 1:15 p.m. EST
Distance: 1 1/16 Miles
The day will start at Belmont Park with a $64,000 purse in Race 1. 1 1/16 miles of racing on the dirt will be featured on Thursday afternoon in this one. Sneer, So Darn Hot, and Thankful have to be taken into consideration. Todd Pletcher’s Thankful is appearing in the second race of her career after taking a class drop for Thursday.
She was a first-time starter on May 14 at Gulfstream Park and finished 9th. She had problems right from the get-go and brushed the gate. Around the turns, Thankful was wide as well. Things like that can happen for an inexperienced horse, and with her debut out of the way, she should run better on Thursday. Pletcher is a tremendous trainer and he’ll likely figure it out.
So Darn Hot is the betting favorite on the morning-line from the No. 6 post position. She showed in back-to-back races to start her career and is looking for more after a transfer from Gulfstream. In her latest event, So Darn Hot finished a length back of Pechanga for a win. That could be good enough form to get into the victory circle on Thursday.
Sneer and So Darn Hot might get into a competitive race. Sneer has placed in 2 of 4 races, finishing 2nd on March 22 to finish a half length behind Pleasant Orb. On January 4, Sneer was a half length behind Sayyida Al Hurra for a win. In each event, Sneer was expected to finish around the middle, but beat expectations. He was slower on paper in his latest race for 5th, though that was against a tougher field than this. Sneer is worth a look.
Post Time: 1:50 p.m. EST
Race 2 will feature a mile of racing on the dirt for a $27,000 purse. The stakes are lowered considerably in this event. It should still be an entertaining race, though. Invest, Sneads, and Luxury Suite as an upset should be considered. Luxury Suite has been disappointing in his last two races, as he finished 6th on March 24 and June 11. Prior to that, Luxury Suite won on February 7 in the third start of his career. More was expected out of Luxury Suite, but if he gets back into the form like people believed, then he will have a chance here.
Luxury Suite is a winner in 1 of 5 races in his career.Sneads has more experience than Luxury Suite and more consistency as well. He has finished in the top-3 in 7 of his previous 8 races. His latest win was two races ago on February 22 at Aqueduct. Sneads notched the victory by 7 ¼ lengths after coming close for a full year.
After that consistency, Sneads attempted to race against a tougher field and came back down to earth, finishing 5th on March 15. Invest is coming off a similar story on February 17 for 5th. This was after finishing 3rd on December 21, 2019 and 2nd on January 18. He was a winner last May at Belmont Park, but has been searching for the winner’s circle since then. Invest is running with a new stable today, and his new team is entering him into a winnable event right away.
Post Time: 2:23 p.m. EST
Moving along to Race 3 at Belmont Park on Thursday afternoon. This event will take place on the dirt over 5 furlongs. Make Mischief and Kokopelli are both expected to present bold bids. Every horse is a rookie except for Jill’s a Hot Mess. Jill’s a Hot Mess is a one-time starter after finishing 5th on May 29 at Gulfstream Park.
The seven other horses haven’t raced on the racecourse before. Make Mischief is expected to perform and have a nice career. You don’t buy a horse for $285,000 and expect no results in this class. Make Mischief was competent in her latest workout, with a time of 37.20 seconds at 3 furlongs. She was good at 4 furlongs with times of 47, 48.25, and 50.82 seconds.
Her biggest threat to a win is likely going to be Kokopelli. Kokopelli will push Make Mischief in the event, and it may very well come down to these two in the stretch. She is not expected to be a major player early in her career, but her workouts have been in order in the morning. Kokopelli was solid with times of 37.60 and 36.60 seconds at 3 furlongs, and 49.80 seconds at 4 furlongs in May. Make Mischief is expected to be the stronger performer early in her career. I give the slight no to the $285,000 Make Mischief on Thursday in Race 3.
Post Time: 2:55 p.m. EST
Distance:1 1/16 Miles
Race 4 will have 1 1/16 miles of racing for a $30,000 purse on the dirt. Eight horses are scheduled to participate for the top prize in the event. Chief Know It All, Mills, and Scart It Down are likely going to have strong runs in this one. Mills gets the No. 8 post position and will have to fight for a win. He was searching for a hat-trick in his most recent performance, but finished 4th on March 13. This was after winning on February 21 and February 28 in New York at Aqueduct. That was Mills searching for easier pastures after going winless since 2017. He didn’t get a win in 24 events before winning two in a row, and then falling right back. Overall,
Scarf It Down is in slightly better form than Mills and he gets a slightly easier race on Thursday. He is looking for an easier time on the racecourse after going winless in five straight races. He’s been inconsistent, having finished 7th, 5th, 3rd, 5th, 4th in his previous five outings. His most recent win was on November 7, 2019 at Finger Lakes. It was the first win for Scarf It Down in over a year, after going winless in 12 straight events. You never know how good Scarf It Down is going to be, and that’s what might make him dangerous to strike in Race 4.
Chief Know It All has the credentials on his resume. He has won 8 of 26 races for easily the best winning percentage in Race 4. Chief Know It All is also coming off a win on January 18, and two wins on August 2, 2019 and October 11, 2019. In other words, Chief Know It All has won 3 of his previous 4 races. He is also a winner in 4 of his previous 6 races, dating back to last May. Continuing the same form for Chief Know It All should get him back to the winner’s circle.
Post Time: 3:27 p.m. EST
The value of this purse goes up by $17,000 to $47,000 in Race. This event will consist of 7 furlongs on the turf. There are 11 horses participating, but I think two are going to rise above the field. Frank’sgunisloaded and Shiraz are going to be worth a look in Race 5. Shiraz is coming off a couple of promising performances on November 17, 2019 and November 30, 2019 at Aqueduct. He finished 3rd and 2nd in those two races.
He’s finished in the top-3 in 5 of his previous 7 races. This is another race that Shiraz should compete in. It’s in a similar class, but he was unable to win any of those races and get over the hump. His most recent win was on September 29, 2018, so it’s been a while. Overall, he has 2 wins in 31 races. Frank’sgunisloaded doesn’t have anything close to that experience, but he’s made the most out of five races in his career. He is a winner in 2 of 5 races to pick up a quick $77,080 in earnings.
In his previous two outings, Frank’sgunisloaded finished 1st and 3rd in his last two races on January 24 and March 1. Shiraz didn’t show much in his most recent workout on June 11, with a time of 1:05.20 at 5 furlongs. If Frank’sgunisloaded was running in a class any higher than this, I’d be hesitant to pull the trigger on him. However, there really isn’t a whole lot else that will catch your attention in Race 5.