2014 Belmont Super Saturday Picks, Odds and Expert Predictions
by Trevor Whenham - 9/25/2014
Super Saturday at Belmont Park is an embarrassment of riches for horse racing fans. There are five Grade 1 stakes and a Grade II, and all six feature horses are making their final start before the Breeders' Cup. Several horses on this card would go into those races as favorites with a win. We will see a wide range of styles of races, but the one consistent factor is the quality of the horses. This is a great card. There is a good mix of solid favorites and intriguing long shots that are worth backing here:
Jockey Club Gold Cup: Horse racing is funny. A couple of months ago it seemed certain that this would be the final showdown for great rivals Will Take Charge and Palace Malice before the Breeders' Cup and that every other horse in the field would be extras. Now, however, both horses are retired, and the feel of the race is entirely different - though very competitive.
The race now shapes up as a battle of generations. Tops among the older horses is Moreno (7/2), who won the Whitney and was a solid second in the Woodward - both at Saratoga. Zivo (6/1), a somewhat surprising winner of the Suburban Handicap at Belmont in July against a strong field after previously winning five lower-level races in a row - is also entered to represent the veterans of the sport.
Taking them on are three younger runners. Wicked Strong (3/1) won the Wood Memorial, disappointed through the Triple Crown, and then was a strong second in the Travers. I see no value at this price. Stablemate V.E. Day (5/1) took longer to mature into his racing career, but he was the upset winner of the Travers - the biggest race for three year olds of the summer. Tonalist (4/1), who won the Belmont (so we know he likes this track), was third in the Travers.
I respect Moreno more than I like him and question his freshness after a tough summer. He also likes being up front early, and that will be tough as he drew the 11 post in the 12-horse field. I'll pass on him. Instead, I'll take a shot on a long shot and look for Big Cazanova (20/1) to have a strong day. He ran very impressively in two allowance races at Del Mar this summer, setting track records both times, and the fact that he is being shipped across the country for this spot is so odd that there must be a good reason for it. I love his breeding, too. The outside post does him no favors since he has speed, but he's still worth a shot on potential alone.
Of the youngsters I think V.E. Day is the clear choice. He has trained well since the Travers and should only improve as he matures.
Recommended bets: Big Cazanova and V.E. Day to win, Big Cazanova to place.
Beldame: The favorite here is three-year-old Stopchargingmaria (5/2), who has won two Grade 1 stakes for three year olds in a row and moves up to open company for the first time. We expected to see her last weekend in the Cotillion, but she wisely stayed home for this race instead of clashing with the great Untapable, who easily won that race, before she had to. Belle Gallantey (7/2). She likes this track, but her last race a month ago at Saratoga was so bad that I can't justify picking her at this price. The price won't be great on Stopchargingmaria, but she has trained well and is the class of the field.
Recommended bet: Stopchargingmaria to win.
Flower Bowl: This turf test for fillies and mares is headlined by three runners from trainer Chad Brown - favorite Stephanie's Kitten (5/2), and 8/1 shots Alterite and Watsdachances. The five-year-old favorite has not won this year in five tries and doesn't seem on top of her game anymore. I'll pass at the price. In fact, I'll pass on Brown entirely. Instead, I'm going to back another longshot in what is a pretty undistinguished field. Maximova (20/1) has only one stakes outing, and it was a disaster last year. Christophe Clement is a trainer to trust, though, and he is stretching the horse out further than she has run -- something that should suit her. A soft track would also suit her well.
Recommended bets: Maximova to win and place.
Joe Hirsch Turf Classic: Main Sequence , Imagining and Twilight Eclipse were the top three finishers in the Sword Dancer last time out, and they are the horses to beat here, too. Main Sequence came over from Europe and has won both of his North American starts - though by less than a length combined. Imagining has had an inconsistent year, and I don't trust him here. Twilight Eclipse has the fastest time ever at a mile and a half on turf but has never won a grade 1 and has just one win in five starts this year. I love a strong closer in turf races, and I'm not sure we have seen all that Main Sequence has to offer. Therefore I will look for him to remain unbeaten in North America.
Recommended bet: Main Sequence to win.
Vosburgh: The sprinters get their shot in this race. Palace (2/1) is one of those crazy stories - he was claimed for just $20,000 in 2012 and has since won 10 times. He's the class of the field, but I don't like the price. Happy My Way (3/1) was second to Palace last time out and won three straight before that. My choice, though, is defending champion Private Zone (7/2). He takes a leap of faith to back because he has had a recent trainer change - Alfredo Velazquez took over from Doug O'Neill after a disastrous fourth at Parx on Sept. 1. The fact that he is coming back again so soon after the change means that we could see a boost from the change - much like we often do in the first race after a horse is claimed.
Recommended bet: Private Zone to win.
Kelso: Itsmyluckyday (4/5) is the overwhelming favorite here. Running at a mile here is an odd spot for a horse that won the Woodward last time out and is aiming for the Breeders' Cup Classic for his next start. He's the clear class of the field, though the price makes him - and therefore the race - unbettable. I'll pass on this one.
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