Scully: Playing the All-Stakes Pick 4 on Friday’s Belmont at Saratoga program

June 7th, 2024

Friday’s 12-race Belmont at Saratoga program features four stakes, the $500,000 Acorn (G1) for three-year-old fillies and a trio of graded turf events for distaffers, and they comprise an all-stakes Pick 4.

I will take on the biggest morning line favorite, taking a stand in the first leg of the sequence, and have put together a $30 Pick 4 ticket. My thoughts are below.

50-cent Pick 4 (Race 9): 8 with 1,3,4,7 with 2,3,5,6,10 with 4,5,9 ($30)

Race 9 – Intercontinental (G2)

Trainer Christophe Clement has a pair of entrants in the 5 1/2-furlong turf test. #6 Roses for Debra (6-5) will go favored, and concede weight to all rivals, after grinding out a narrow win in the Giant’s Causeway (G3) at Keeneland, but I prefer the “other Clement,” #8 Gal in a Rush (10-1). The five-year-old appeared ready to make an impact in the turf sprint stakes ranks when recording a pair of sharp allowance wins last summer, including a 2 1/2-length score over the Saratoga course and distance in mid-August, but she headed to the sidelines after the latter.

Gal in a Rush returned from a nine-month layoff with a troubled second to 6-5 stablemate Dontlookbackall in the May 5 License Fee S. at Aqueduct, altering paths back and forth in the stretch while caught behind horses in the short field, and she finished fast to miss by a neck after eventually forcing her way out by splitting rivals. Gal in a Rush look poised to keep advancing in her second start back this year, her numbers fit, and she’s shown an affinity for turf with give to it at Saratoga.

Race 10 – Just a Game (G1)

#4 Coppice (3-1) will look to amends after a troubled neck second in the Distaff Turf Mile (G2) on the Kentucky Derby undercard, her first start since a respectable fourth to Inspiral in Group 1 event last October, and the Chad Brown-trained filly is my top choice in the mile turf affair. I will also use a pair of stablemates, #3 Gina Romantica (3-1) and #7 Whitebeam (5-2) and include the late running #1 Mission of Joy (12-1) from the hot Graham Motion stable.

Race 11 – New York (G1)

#2 English Rose (3-1) got on track too late and finished a rallying second in the April 13 Jenny Wiley (G1) at Keeneland last out. A Group 2 winner in Dubai two back, the up-and-coming daughter of Frankel is eligible to receive a favorable ground-saving trip with her tactical speed and rates top billing.

The New York shapes up to be a competitive 13-horse race at 1 3/16 miles on turf, and I will add #3 Didia (9-2), #5 American Sonja (10-1), #6 Fev Rover (8-1), and #10 War Like Goddess (4-1) to the mix.

Race 12 – Acorn

#5 My Mane Squeeze (12-1) rebounded sharply last time, recording a convincing win in the seven-furlong Eight Belles (G2) at Churchill Downs, and I will tab the Mike Maker-trained filly in her second attempt at two-turn distance. A three-time stakes winner over restricted rivals, including a pair of romping wins at a mile, My Mane Squeeze wasn’t ready for the start of her first two-turn start, the Fantasy (G2) two back, and lost all chance with the disastrous beginning. She has stamina influences in her bloodlines and her numbers fit, registering the top last-out Brisnet Speed rating, and I’m picking an upset in the 1 1/8-mile race.

Champion two-year-old filly #4 Just F Y I (5-2) and Kentucky Oaks (G1) romper #9 Thorpedo Anna (8-5) will also be used.