Below is the Pick 4 ticket for July 9th at Belmont Park. As always, the ticket is $20 or less.
Race 8 Belmont Derby:
Long Island Sound (#7, 7-2) leads the most competitive race in the sequence. He has the most upside in the field following a strong 3rd place finish to subsequent Grade 1 winner Hawkbill. He is three for three on left handed courses and is the tepid choice in a wide-open race that will likely result in a blanket finish.
Deauville (#13, 4-1) threw in a clunker in his last start, but his 2nd place finish in a Group 2 at York two starts back towers over this field. If the soft turf was to blame for his last start, then watch out. He is the classiest horse in the field, but he must navigate a trip from the 13 post, which may be the equalizer.
Humphrey Bogart (#10, 5-1) appears to have the least upside in the field as he makes his 11th career start in the Belmont Derby. Do not hold that against him however; as he has been facing some of the best that Europe has to offer. He seems to fire every time and appreciates long distances.
Beach Patrol (#9, 12-1) was ripe for a poor performance in the Penn Mile. He was coming off a grueling effort, switched trainers and ran on a tricky turf course. Throw that race out and he would be half the price in here. He has ample ability and any horse trained by Chad Brown and ridden by Javier Castellano at 12-1 is worth inclusion.
Surgical Strike (#5, 15-1) continues to improve and should thrive at a mile and a quarter. He followed a strong third from the 12 post in the American Turf with a victory in the Arlington Classic. He was forced to close into a paceless race in the Arlington Classic, which made his first victory in blinkers even more impressive.
Highland Sky (#4, 8-1) is the only horse worth including from the Pennine Ridge, because he was likely best that day in a race that may not have been that strong. He was widest of all, but kept to his task nicely indicating that he should like a mile and a quarter.
Race 9 Suburban Handicap:
Shaman Ghost (#3, 3-1) was ultra impressive in the Brooklyn Invitational and the former Queens' Plate winner relishes long distances. The mile and a quarter Suburban should be right up his alley and he appears to be the "now" horse in this field.
Effinex (#5, 5-2) is the most talented horse in this race when his mind is right. Jockey Mike Smith has stated that Enffinex tends to lose his cool in the post parade and when that happens he does not fire. He certainly is not a single because you do not know which Enffinex you will get, but he must be included. If he is feeling good then everyone else in here is running for second.
Race 10 Belmont Oaks:
Ballydoyle (#7, 3-1) is a beast on firm turf courses and she should get her wish on Saturday. She has kept top company overseas including: Minding, Alice Springs and Nemoralia and has never been worst then 2nd on a firm turf course. She should have no problem getting the mile and a quarter distance being by Galileo. The Aidan O'Brien filly faces a tough bunch, but her class should be too much for the competition to handle.
Race 11 Belmont Sprint Championship:
Private Zone (#2, 2-1) should handle this group with ease on paper, but a tough draw and fast pace scenario will not make things easy for this come-backing gelding. Private Zone will certainly run the other speed such as: Anchor Down, A.P. Indian, Roxbury N Overton and Green Gratto, off of their feet, but he will have to set wicked fractions and hope to hold on as possibly a short horse off the long layoff. He is the horse to beat, but can not be singled at a short price.
Joking (#6, 10-1) is the ultimate horse for course play. He has five wins and three seconds from eight starts at Belmont Park. While he is not as talented as Private Zone, he should be able to take advantage of a hot pace on his favorite surface. He has won at 16-1 and 9-1 in his last two starts and continues to offer value here at 10-1.
Marking (#9, 4-1) may have needed his last start following a trip to Dubai. 7 furlongs seems to be right up his alley and he will be able to sit a perfect trip right off of the speed. A repeat of his only 7 furlong try, a second place finish in the Malibu against RunHappy and Lord Nelson, may be good enough to win this race.
$0.50 Pick 4 Ticket: 4,5,7,9,10,13 / 3,5 / 7 / 2,6,9 = $18