There are some big races in the US beginning on Friday at Keeneland. The running of the Maker’s Mark Mile for $300,000 will get us started, which will usher in a big Saturday in Lexington. The Blue Grass is the most notable event, with $600,000 and points towards the Kentucky Derby on the line. The Grade 1 $400,000 Central Bank Ashland Stakes promises to be a must-watch race as well. There are four more stakes races at Keeneland on Saturday, all of which will be for $150,000 or more.
We will have you covered for all of the fun this weekend in Kentucky. Belmont Park doesn’t have that kind of money available today, but there is a nice nine-race card on the docket in New York on Thursday. We hit the Indiana Oaks yesterday, but came a place short with Major Fed in the Indiana Derby.
The outcome wasn’t too surprising, as we had Shared Sense on our shortlist. There was an objection raised by Major Fed’s side due to interference at the quarter pole. It didn’t work, though, and Shared Sense won by 3 lengths. If you played all three picks at Indiana Grand to place yesterday, then it was all good because you went 3 for 3. Let’s get back on the grind Thursday and look for some winners at Belmont. Head below for our free Belmont Park picks for July 9, 2020.
Post Time: 1:50 p.m. EST
Distance: 6 Furlongs
The gate will open for Race 2 around 2:00 p.m. at Belmont Park. This event will feature 6 furlongs of racing on the dirt for $27,000. Javelin and Stoney Bennett are the most likely horses to go to the winner’s circle in Race 2. Javelin has been a consistent performer in 2020, with all five of his races resulting in top-3 finishes.
He’s still looking for a win to put on his mantle this year, though. Overall in his career, Javelin has recorded five wins in his career, which dates back to April 4, 2017 at Aqueduct. In 32 races, Javelin has accumulated $220,988 in earnings. His most recent win was on April 11, 2019, so it has been a minute. Since then, Javelin has had several close calls, but winless in 15 straight races.
Having said that, Javelin has been coming close and is always lurking. In those 15 races, Javelin finished in the top-3 in nine outings. The right form has been there for Javelin, but he’s struggled to close out the deal. He’s placed in each of his previous two outings for 2nd on June 3 and June 26.
Javelin was short by 6 lengths against Business Cycle on the 3rd, a race we won, and then 4 ¼ lengths behind Blue Belt a few weeks later. He’s been able to beat up on the lesser opponents, but has struggled to get over the strongest horse in races. Javelin will have a good run at the top prize out of this $27,000 purse, but is yet again looking at a stronger horse in the gate.
Stoney Bennett is 6 for 16 in his career and has finished 1st, 2nd, 2nd in his previous three starts. Both of those events were for bigger purses than he’ll see today. Stoney Bennett was racing for $47,000 and $34,290 in those events on April 25 and June 20. He won by a nose over Flying the Flag for a $45,000 purse on April 13.
Stoney Bennett has competed against much tougher competition than he will see on Thursday. He also has stakes experience, with appearances in five Black Type events. Stoney Bennett appears to be the class of this field, and barring any setbacks before the event or bad breaks during the race, Stoney Bennett should be the top selection in Race 2.
Post Time: 2:23 p.m. EST
Distance:1 1/4 Miles
We’ll handicap the next race at Belmont Park on Thursday afternoon. Race 3 has a nice purse of $66,000 on offer. If you want to play the Daily Double with Race 2-3 you can combine our previous selection with Race 3. This race is scheduled to take place on the inner turf on Thursday. Whatdoesasharksay, Setting the Mood, and Ebony are on my shortlist. Whatdoesasharksay stands a better chance to win than +400 indicates. She should probably be in the +350 range. Whatdoesasharksay has gone 1 for 9 in her career, with her only win on September 19, 2019.
In that performance, Whatdoesasharksay beat Lady Rosalie for a tidy $90,000 purse. That’s a nice score for her, but she’s gone winless in four straight outings and hasn’t been in the top-3 since November 7, 2019, four races ago. Whatdoesasharksay has finished 10th, 5th, 4th in her previous three outings, with a 4th place finish in her most recent race on June 21 following a three-month layoff. That was a $66,000 event, so Whatdoesasharksay is remaining in the same class for Thursday. Her work in the morning has been encouraging and isn’t a horse that shouldn’t be ignored.
Setting the Mood is getting some decent value, too. She got off to a hot start to finish 2nd and 1st in her debut then sophomore effort on March 8 and May 21. She was a half length back of Bajan Girl, and then cleared the field by 4 ½ lengths in her next race over La Babia. The good vibes came to an end on June 21 for Setting the Mood, as she finished 6th, which amounted to dead last in that event. It was a bad race, but it’s hard to write her off on Thursday after the form she showcased in her first race and follow up performance.
French bred Ebony flies to the US after eight races in her home country. She will be making her debut in the US on Thursday afternoon. Ebony gets an easyish assignment as a first-time starter in her new country. She has finished 1st, 3rd, 2nd, 9th 2nd, 2nd, 4th, 7th. Ebony is coming off a layoff and has a new barn going into today. Her form has been good in the morning and should run a strong race versus this competition.
Post Time: 4:32 p.m. EST
Distance:1 ⅛ Miles
Belmont Park has $66,000 more up for grabs on Thursday afternoon on the turf. This event will include 1 ⅛ miles on the inner turf. No Word and Our Country are both worth a look here. Our Country has stakes experience, with appearances in the With Anticipation Stakes (Gr. 3), Pilgrim Stakes (Gr. 3), and Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf (Gr. 1).
His best finish was in the Pilgrim Stakes for 3rd on September 28, 2019. His toughest assignment to date in the Breeders’ Cup event didn’t go too well. He was just a gate filler basically, because Our Country was expected to do nothing and didn’t do much to finish 8th. It was worth a shot at the million dollar purse, though.
Since that race, Our Country has been eased in class, but is still looking to get back to the winner’s circle. He finished 3rd in the follow up to that race on April 1. Our Country went way down in class all the way to a $18,000 race after the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf. He didn’t belong in a Grade 1 event and didn’t run particularly well in a race for $18,000. Our Country didn’t respond in his next outing on May 30. He finished 6th as the favorite in a race for $46,000.
No Word finished in the top-3 in 3 of 4 races in his career. He won as a first-time runner on August 31, 2019 to score a nice piece of a $90,000 purse. Since then, No Word was 5th in the Pilgrim Stakes (Gr. 3), and 3rd in his last two performances. In his last outing, No Word was 3rd on June 11 in a $66,000 Allowance event.
It’s just about where No Word was expected to finish, according to public money. Since then, No Word had a strong workout on June 28 on the inner turf with a time of 48.55 seconds over 4 furlongs. Our Country ran 51.84 and 51.09 seconds in recent turf workouts. He finished ahead of No Word in the Pilgrim Stakes in September, but No Word is in much better form at this point in July. Expect Todd Pletcher to have No Word ready to run for Thursday.