Tackling the All G1 Pick 5 on Belmont Stakes Day

June 9, 2023

By Michael Vale

Race 8: The Woody Stephens-G1 $400,000:

Distance/Surface: 7 Furlongs Dirt

Full Field with Morning Lines (**Favorite: AE= Also Eligible):

  1. New York Thunder 12-1
  2. Gun Pilot 20-1
  3. Arabian Lion 4-1
  4. **General Jim 7-2
  5. Arman 30-1
  6. Harrodsburg 12-1
  7. Federal Judge 8-1
  8. Fort Bragg 5-1 Scratched
  9. Fort Warren 30-1
  10. Dark Vector 30-1
  11. Victory Formation 10-1
  12. Gilmore 12-1
  13. Drew’s Gold 8-1

Pace Scenario/Initial Thoughts: Half of this field will be looking for the early lead. New York Thunder, Arabian Lion, Harrodsburg, Federal Judge, Victory Formation, and Drew’s Gold could send early. Of that group I think New York Thunder is the fastest. Beware of the potential for a pace collapse if there is a ton of early contention. This is a very competitive race where most bettors will spread. Will be very advantageous to narrow your ticket if you are so bold!

Horses I like (Will use in Pick 5):

  •  1 New York Thunder: If you don’t follow Woodbine racing closely, you likely are not familiar with this horse. While this will be a big jump in class for him, I encourage you to watch his last race. He set very respectable fractions for the first 4 furlongs and then showed an incredible turn of foot in the stretch. He’s lightly raced, but undefeated after 3 starts. He has plenty of room to improve as this his 2nd start as a 3 year old and 4th start early all. It’s safe to say that trainer Jorge Delgado is off to an incredible start this year! Also notice that Santana flew to Canada on Sunday April 30th just to ride this horse for that last race. This horse could be special. Are you worried that he won’t take to the dirt? Sired by Nyquist and a Midshipman mare, I’m certainly not worried. Major, Major contender IMO and is my top pick in the race.
  •  12 Gilmore:  Simply put, this will be the horse that picks up all the pieces if there is a pace collapse. You will get every bit of that 12-1 price and Irad staying on the mount is an encouraging sign. 
  • Federal Judge: Are we just going to ignore that this guy repelled Extra Anejo on Kentucky derby day?! That is no small feat and with prat back up, I cant imagine that we don’t get progression again in this race. He should also get a perfect trip just behind the main speed in the race. Must use. 
  • General Jim: Shug has campaigned this colt beautifully. The hall of fame trainer has been patient and shown that this horse can continue to steadily improve race to race. Clearly the blinkers have done nothing but help the horse as well as his best 2 efforts are his last 2 starts after dawning the blinkers. He’s the ML favorite, but by post time I expect Arabian Lion to be the shorter price.

Horses I’m Playing against:

  • Arabian Lion: Fading a Baffert favorite is a tough pill to swallow but swallow I must here. He looked great at Churchill last out, but that was a restricted unlisted stakes group. He’s yet to win against open company in his career actually and has never won while not on the lead. While he could take the lead in this race, it is certainly not a given with this salty of a group. Bob usually likes to give his coltss 5 furlong bullet works before big races like this. See Arabian’s 5f bullet works posted before both the Lexington and the Sir Barton Stakes. Here he comes in with a slow 4f work at SA. Not something I usually see from Baffert when his horses are ready to fire. I know this is a grade 1 race, but I don’t think the Woody Stephens is the ultimate goal for this horse. Call me crazy, but I wouldn’t be surprised if he’s not fully cranked here. He could draw off and win by open lengths. If that’s the case, then I’ll tip my cap. Like Jon always says, “Horses humble everyobody.”

Summary & Top Pick:

This is a wide-open race and you could make a legitimate case for several in here. I’m going to take a shot against who I think will be the favorite at post time.  Top pick is New York Thunder.

Race 9 The Jaipur-G1 $400,000:

Distance/Surface: 6 furlongs Wider Turf

Full Field with Morning Lines (*Favorite: AE= Also Eligible):

  1. Yes And Yes 20-1
  2. Go Bears Go 12-1
  3. Air Force Red 12-1
  4. Mid Day Image 30-1
  5. Dr Zempf 8-1
  6. Ice Chocolat 30-1
  7. Thin White Duke 30-1
  8. Arrest Me Red 6-1
  9. Nothing Btter 8-1
  10. Big Invasion 6-1
  11. Casa Creed 9-2
  12. **Caravel 3-1

Pace Scenario/Initial Thoughts: This will be a decently fast pace which is to be expected for a 6 furlong race. Your two fastest out of the gate will be Caravel and Air Force Red with a wall of horses jockeying for stalking position behind. Casa Creed, Big Invasion, and Front Run The Fed will be closing late. 

Horses I like (Will use in Pick 5):

  • Casa Creed: I’m a huge Casa Creed Fan. Old School horse that runs everywhere, always puts in a great effort, and can often surprise at a good price. He won this race last year and I cant see any reason he wont repeat. The pace should set up beautifully for the late turn of foot and he’s shown that he can win off a race overseas. He won this race last year coming in from Dubai, so don’t let the KSA race take you off this horse. Should be the favorite in my opinion. 
  • Big Invasion: If and I mean “If” Joel can keep this horse out of traffic trouble he has a big shot. Unfortunately Rosario has had a bad habit this year of doing exactly that. However, I cant ignore how well this colt has performed in new York and will have every chance to run down the leaders at the end. 
  • Go Bears Go: I must take a shot at 12-1. He’s had 2 races in North America to get used to the firmer turf, and I thought he ran a fairly impressive race last out on Kentucky Derby Day. He gets plenty of pace to run at here and I like that he’ll get to save ground coming out of post 2. This horse is eventually going to come home at price in a race like this, so I will include in case that day is today!

Horses I’m Playing against:

  •  14 Caravel: Yes this is tough horse to go against, but he will have a lot of pace pressure in this race and these are very impressive closers that he is facing. He will likely go off at a much shorter price than his 3-1 morning line. I will pass here. 

Summary & Top Pick:

I think this race plays very well to closers, so Im looking to beat the favorite with the 3 best closers in the field. Casa Creed is my top pick.

Race 10 The Metropolitan Mile-G1 $1,000,000: 

Distance/Surface: 8 furlongs Dirt

Full Field with Morning Lines (**Favorite: AE= Also Eligible):

  1. **Cody’s Wish 7-5
  2. Slow Down Andy 10-1
  3. Dr. Schivel 10-1
  4. Hoist The Gold 30-1
  5. Charge It 6-1
  6. Zandon 5-1
  7. Repo Rocks 4-1
  8.  Doppelganger 20-1
  9. White Abarrio 10-1

Pace Scenario/Initial Thoughts: This is a matchup between one of the best stories in racing (Cody’s Wish) vs. one of the worst (Jamie Ness). 

Horses I like (Will use in Pick 5):

  • Cody’s Wish: Like I said, this horse is one of the best stories we have in racing today. He’s also an absolute monster that could be pointing to the breeder’s cup classic this year. The 1 turn mile is perfect for him, and he is working lights out. Wouldn’t blame anyone who singles here. 
  • Repo Rocks: I’m just not going to let this horse beat me. Lucky for Ness, the Pennsylvania Racing Commission threw out his most suspension 6-month suspension, so NYRA has no reason to disallow his runners. Assuming Repo Rocks passes his drug test he is a formidable opponent that could easily win the race. 

Horses I’m Playing against:

  • The rest of the field: I’ve never been a believer in Charge it and while he gets impressive Beyers, he’ll need to improve drastically to win here. Zandon is a nice horse with 2nditis. I’ll likely hit the board, but I think we know what he is at this point. I almost put Hoist the Gold on the ticket at a big price, but again he just doesn’t win enough races. I will likely key him in 2nd though for exotic wagers just in case he pops another big one. Dallas Stewart loves big upsets in races like this and eventually Hoist the Gold is going to shock in a race like this. I just don’t think it is today. 

Summary & Top Pick: Cody’s Wish is my top pick, but Ness could find a way to get Repo Rock’s juices flowing and pop a monster effort. 

Race 11 The Manhattan Stakes $750,000: 

Distance/Surface: 10 furlongs Turf

Full Field with Morning Lines (**Favorite: AE= Also Eligible):

  1. So High 50-1
  2. Strong Quality 15-1
  3. Warren Point 5-1
  4. Ottoman Fleet 5-2
  5. Soldier Rising 12-1
  6. Red Knight 8-1
  7. Rockemperor 12-1
  8. Up to the Mark 8-5
  9. Ocean Atlantique 20-1
  10. Highest Honors 20-1

Pace Scenario/Initial Thoughts: There is a good amount of pace which is unusual for a long turf race like this. I expect So High, Strong Quality, and Ocean Atlantique to compete for the lead early. Up to the mark and Ottoman Fleet should get perfect trips right behind the speed with Warren Point, Highest honors, and Soldier Rising closing from the back.  

Horses I like (Will use in Pick 5):

  •  Up to The Mark: He got bet down hard on Kentucky Derby day and man did he reward his backers big time! Winning by open lengths against a very salty bunch. He’s the well-deserved favorite. The only concern is that he has had a long campaign since last year. This will be his 9th race in 10 months but assuming he’s not tired out, I like him in this spot. I will be looking to fade later in the year though. 
  • Warren Point:  I think Warren Point is the better of the two Appleby’s in the race and at a better price. The distance is perfect for him and he ran a very good effort in the Man of War last out despite an odd ride from Frankie Dettori. He will be cranked up for this race and has a great shot to upset.  

Horses I’m Playing against:

  •  Ottoman Fleet:  Great horse! I just like his running mate better at the price. He’s also not as fresh as Warren point as this will be Ottoman’s 6th race this year. I think we will see Warren’s A+ race, while it may just be Ottaman’s A- race. Still good enough to win obviously. 

Summary & Top Pick:

The grueling campaign will eventually catch up to Up The Mark, but not yet in my opinion. He’s my top pick. 

Race 12 The Belmont-G1 $1,500,000: 

Distance/Surface: 12 furlongs Dirt

Full Field with Morning Lines (*Favorite: AE= Also Elgible):

  1. Tapit Shoes 20-1
  2. Tapit Trice 3-1
  3. Arcangelo 8-1
  4. National Treasure 5-1
  5. IL Miracolo 30-1
  6. **Forte 5-2
  7. Hit Show 10-1
  8. Angel of Empire 7-2
  9. Red Route One 15-1

Pace Scenario/Initial Thoughts: I don’t expect Forte to drop back as far as he did in the Florida derby. I think he’ll sit 1-2 lengths back of Tapit Shoes and National Treasure along with Arcangelo. Angel of Empire, Red Route One, and Tapit Trice will try and run them all down from the back of the pack.  

Horses I like (Will use in Pick 5):

  •  Forte (Single): Assuming Forte passes the vet exam and a drug test (Interesting that Pletcher has escaped media scrutiny for this…) he is the best horse in the field. Rewatching that Florida Derby it is impossible to state how impressive he was running down Mage. In retrospect that win looks even better after Mage’s derby win. The small layoff doesn’t bother me and he has remained training and working out well. Nothing in his breeding suggest to me that the distance will be a problem either. I think he is the best horse in the crop and will show it on Belmont day. 

Horses I’m Playing against:

  •  National Treasure: While Blazing Sevens ran a great race, I don’t think he’s in the top tier of Chad Brown’s barn. I think Tapit Shoes and others will press him enough where he wont get an easy lead like the Preakness.
  • Angel of Empire: I’m scared of this horse not going to lie. He’s improving with every start and will likely pop the best race of his career here. I just think that Forte will get the jump on him and if Forte gets first jump, Angel of Empire will have a tougher time running him down at the 12-furlong distance. 
  • Arcangelo: The impressive winner of the Peter Pan will have to prove it to me. If he wins, hats off to the connections, but he’s in much deeper waters here. Should get a great trip though.
  • Tapit Trice: Angel of Empire is a much better closer IMO

Summary & Top Pick: Forte for the win! 

Final Ticket: $1; 1,7,12/2,10,11/1,7/3,8/6; $36

Contributing Authors

Michael Vale, past The Wire

Michael Vale

Michael Vale is a racing fan from Chicago who wasn't introduced to the sport until later in life. No one in his immediate family was...

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@PastTheWire Thank you for that article. I was 11yrs old watching race on TV & remember it like yesterday.Great article #GreatHorse #Ruffian

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