Best Bets For Today’s Belmont & Gulfstream Races

Ellis Park picks and a Del Mar Best Bet

Belmont returns with a 10 race program and they have at least one stake race every day this week. Saturday they have four graded events including the grade one Carter. Santa Anita has 7 stake races on Saturday led by the grade one Santa Anita Derby. Let’s take a look at today’s action.

Belmont 1st: Kilmarknock warrants consideration

The Belmont 1st is a $20,000 Maiden Claimer going 6 ½ furlongs on dirt and I’m against a couple of the contenders. Cobble Hill has only one dirt race sprinting that would make him a player here and his last was terrible which possibly forced the 7 month layoff? He now competes for the Rob Atras barn however who had about as good an Aqueduct meet as you can have. This may mean he takes money and possibly improves for Atras but I’ll let him beat me.

 I’m also against Dodged a Bullet who is running at his 4th different racetrack in as many races. He has been losing ground from the stretch run to the wire in all of his races so I don’t think stretching out in distance helps him here.

I’m not totally against morning-line favorite Vero Sun who drops out of maiden allowance company for the initial time and the horses who won his last 2 races both came back to win. That said he is 0 for 9, it’s not like his races stand out and I’m not totally convinced this is his best distance.

The debut for Star of the West was strong as he seemed to be retreating when wide throughout but rallied again. The winner used that race to start a 6 race win streak. Star of the West can improve in his 2nd career start. That said he cost $50,000 at auction, debuted for a claiming price of $20,000 and it’s been over 10 months since that debut.

The horse I want is Kilmarknock (6-1 ML) who debuted on a foggy, rainy day at Aqueduct where he showed some speed and tried to split horses but was cut off. Last time he was going a route and was used as a speed element so I can forgive that failed attempt. He can perform better cutting back to a sprint and his 2 back race where he finished 2nd chasing a horse who was loose on the lead is good enough to be competitive here.

Competitive Belmont 8th: Fair price on Arthur Kitt 

Belmont Horse Racing Picks

(AP Photo/Steven Ryan)

Hoping the rain holds off and the Belmont 8th stays on the turf. It is an allowance optional claiming going a mile on the widener turf course for 3-year-olds and up. Perhaps Hidden Scroll can get an easy lead in his turf debut and win but while at times he has shown immense talent, he has lost too many races at short prices for me to trust him in this spot. Also, Dream Hand and Hit it Once More can keep him honest here.

Value Proposition can win off a long layoff but as a 4-year-old making just his 4th lifetime start, he is giving up some seasoning. The 2 best races Cross Border has run have come at 1 ½ miles so while he has won at this distance previously, I don’t want him at a short price when this feels like a starting point for longer races.

The horse I want is Arthur Kitt (8-1 ML) who has competed in North America 3 times previously. He competed in the grade one Breeders’ Cup juvenile turf, the grade 2 Nijinsky, and was a minor player in those difficult races. Last time making his 4-year-old debut in an allowance event at Gulfstream, he had post 11, was wide throughout but came with a strong run finishing 2nd to a horse who saved every inch of ground and somehow found room on the rail in deep stretch. That race at Gulfstream can help Arthur Kitt move forward in this spot in his 2nd start off the layoff and it also gives him a recency edge over some of his rivals.

Gulfstream 10th: Signified draws best

The Gulfstream 10th is a $10,000 maiden claiming event going 6 ½ furlongs on dirt where I’m against morning line favorite Tony Small. The move to the high percentage Joseph barn from the Englehart barn seems lateral to me as Englehart does great work. Also Tony Small has to deal with post 9 and at sprint distances, he feels like a closer that picks up some pieces late and settles for a minor award.

Khattaf did no running in his debut, a sprint race but that came at a higher classification though it was restricted to 3-year-olds. He showed good early speed last time but that race was taken off the turf so I question how good of a dirt race that was. Also, he once again has to deal with an outside post. 

I prefer the better drawn Signified (9/2 ML)who doesn’t have to be anything special dropping out of the Maiden allowance ranks, albeit races at Aqueduct that were restricted to New York breds. Thought the debut was decent making up some ground late and passing a few horses. He didn’t have to love going a route last time but did stay on well. New gelding, cutting back and his main rivals have to deal with outside posts give Signified the chance to pull a small upset.