Turf stakes selections for Belmont Park on June 4
A pair of Grade 2 events on the turf are part of a five-stakes schedule at Belmont Park on Friday.
Race 9: New York S. (G2, 5:15 p.m. ET)
A spectacular field of 12 fillies and mares will go postward in the 1 1/4-mile inner turf affair. I am having a hard time settling on just one contender in the especially deep field and will use a few horses in both my vertical and horizontal plays.
#2 Virginia Joy (10-1) is my top pick for Chad Brown. The bay filly was a smart winner off the layoff in her U. S. debut over this course last time out, and I expect her to take a big step forward on Friday. Virginia Joy's connections paid more than $1 million for her at Arqana in October, and the German Group 3 heroine could be well worth the investment. Irad Ortiz riding is a good thing, too.
Graham Motion’s #7 Mean Mary (9-2) is a pleasure to watch run when she is on her game, which is quite often. The fleet Scat Daddy mare dominated this race by more than five lengths in 2020, and she was a winner at Pimlico in her seasonal bow at a 1 1/16-mile distance that doesn’t flatter her, in my opinion. She is a must-use under jockey Luis Saez.
#11 Mutamakina (15-1) endured a poor trip when second in the Sheepshead Bay S. (G2) most recently for Clement. The Nathaniel five-year-old has appeal at a price, and I love the move to pick up jockey Javier Castellano for the New York.
Race 10: Belmont Gold Cup (G2, 5:48 p.m. ET)
This testing two-mile event on the outer lawn attracted nine entries, including European import #8 Baron Samedi (8-5) for conditioner Joseph O’Brien. The standout stayer has won six races in succession and has to be the one to beat while making his stateside bow.
The gelded son of Harbour Watch possesses class and form, and I envision he will move forward in his second start of the season. John Velazquez taking the reins is a positive move, too.
Despite drawing widest of all in the field, Mike Maker’s #9 Ajourneytofreedom (8-1) will be a key horse underneath in my vertical wagers. The son of Hard Spun has won just two races in his career, but he has performed well at the graded level while always hinting he can run all day. The Kentucky-bred will have Joel Rosario in the stirrups.