Memorial Day card at Belmont is the best of the meet
Not only is the weather supposed to be exceptional for Memorial Day at Belmont, the card is superb, especially the four stakes races.
The feature race is the 120th Grade One Metropolitan Handicap that features Flat Out and Cross Traffic. This eight-furlong race is scheduled to go to the post at roughly 5:49 p.m.
Here's your guide to the four races.
Joel Rosario will guide Unbelievable Dream to victory
An evenly matched field of six is entered for the first of the stakes races at Belmont.
Discreet Marq, trained by Christophe Clement, is the only horse that seems to prefer the lead, which means that the early fractions will be pedestrian, at best.
Wave Theory, currently 4-1 in the Daily Racing Formm and Watsdachances, who is 3-1, are the traditional stalkers, who will be right behind the leader.
Wave Theory has only one win in six career turf starts for trainer Chad Brown. Despite that record, Wave Theory is a threat with John Velazquez aboard.
Watsdachances has three career wins in six starts but is winless in her last three starts. This will be her second start off a long layoff, so she's capable of improving on her fourth-place finish in her last start.
Unbelievable Dream is the pick, with Joel Rosario riding for trainer Barclay Tagg. Unbelievable Dream would prefer fast early fractions, as she is a deep closer, but should be good enough to run down the field.
The turf is currently listed as good by NYRA, but with the temperature scheduled to be low seventies tomorrow, the turf should be upgraded to firm.
Unbelievable Dream by two lengths over Wave Theory in 1:42.
Authenticity, trained by Todd Pletcher will Capture the Grade 1 Ogden Phipps
I'm not a big fan of Joyful Victory, the 7-5 morning line favorite in the Daily Racing Form. Despite a dominant win in her last start, a four-length win in the Grade One Santa Margarita at Santa Anita, I don't see her winning the $400,00 Grade One Ogden Phipps.
Joyful Victory is versatile, but she seems to run her best when she sets the early pace. Unfortunately for this Larry Jones trained mare, she will be pressured by both Disposablepleasure and Authenticity.
Authenticity and Disposablepleasure are trained by Todd Pletcher and appear to be the horses to beat.
Mike Smith picks up the mount on Authenticity, who is undefeated in three career starts at the 1 1/16 mile distance of the race. I expect Mike Smith to move this horse after six furlongs and to win the race.
Disposablepleasure is listed at 6-1 in the Daily Racing Form, and she's the long-shot special in this race. With a win and second-place finish over the main track at Belmont, and Javier Castellano aboard, she's a dangerous stretch threat.
The main track will be fast and it will help Authenticity run down Joyful Victory and hold off Disposablepleasure in 1:42.1 by less than a length.
Bob Baffert's Midnight Lucky will Win the $300,000 Acorn
Kauai Katie is a very talented three-year-old filly, who is 1-1 right now in the Daily Racing Form. In seven career starts, she has six wins, with her only loss being a respectable fourth place finish at Breeders Cup last November.
Midnight Lucky is coming off a somewhat disappointing effort in her last race, when she faded to finish fifth in the Grade One Kentucky Oaks on May 3. Despite that finish, I see a lot of positives, such as the phenomenal bullet work of 1:10.4 over the main track at Churchill Downs on May 20.
Midnight Lucky and Kauai Katie are both front-runners, so they should be one and two from the gate. I won't be shocked to see fractions of 23, 46 and 1:09.3. Those fractions might be detrimental to other horses, but these two fillies are more than capable of handling them.
In the end, I like Midnight Lucky to prevail, as I like that she's cutting back in distance from her last race and has a win beyond seven furlongs.
Kauai Katie's only loss came when she went above seven furlongs, and if Bob Baffert is shipping in a horse from the West Coast, he's supremely confident in her.
Midnight Lucky by 1 1/2 lengths over Kauai Katie and Close Hatches in 1:34.1
Jerry Hollendorfer's trained Sahara Sky will Run Down Flat Out
Flat Out will be denied in the $750,000 Grade One Met Mile, despite being undefeated in four career starts over the main track at Belmont.
Cross Traffic, who ran the race of his life in his last start, a loss to Flat Out, will again be the early pace setter. In that loss, Cross Traffic was edged at the wire by Flat Out, despite running an amazing 1:32.4 for eight furlongs.
There is other speed in the race as Fort Loudon and Discreet Dancer are both horses that prefer to have or be near the lead.
Swagger Jack will be nowhere to be seen early but should be coming late, if at all. In his last race, he came from well off the pace to win the Grade One Carter in 1.21.2 for seven furlongs. The added furlong should only help his chances.
Sahara Sky actually ran second to Swagger Jack in the Carter, but he had his course altered deep in the stretch. At first glance, this horse has just six wins in 16 career starts, but on conventional dirt, he has three wins in six starts, with three second-place finishes.
Sahara Sky and Swagger Jack are going to be at least five lengths behind Flat Out and Cross Traffic—possibly more. The early pace should be sizzling, as I expect the six-furlong time to be 1:08.
As Flat Out finally wears down Cross Traffic, Sahara Sky will catch Flat Out and wear him down right before the wire in 1:33.1.