Belmont Park, Maidens, May 1, 2014

Belmont Park (Elmont, NY), Race 1, Maiden Special Weight

Post Time: 1:20 EST   Purse:  $75,000

We’ll kick the week off back at our favorite track, Belmont Park.  It’s been a long winter, and we know were free when Big Sandy opens once again.  Great horses, deep fields, fair tracks, and when the weather permits, the best turf racing in the U.S.

We’ll look at race 1 at tight, compact field of 7 betting interests (one coupled entry — you get two horses for the price of one) going the one-turn mile.  It’s exceptionally deep and suggests that some trainers have been aiming for the opening of Belmont.  It kicks off the 50 cent Belmont Pick-5, perhaps my favorite wager in the country.

Who is running in this race?  

Maidens — horses that have never won a race.  Someone is going to get that win today!

There are multiple levels for maidens.  This is the highest.  Usually, there is a notable break between contenders and non-contenders in these races — more so than in other levels, and you can eliminate contenders.  Here we can only eliminate one horse — Royal Roxie (#3, 20-1).  The Right Bird (#6, 12-1) is still quite the outsider, and would needs serious regressions to end up on top.  Outside of these two, we go five deep, a precarious start to the Pick 5.  Go deep, or you may go home early.


  • How will Make it Anywhere (#2, 3-1) return from the layoff?  She has the fastest dirt speed — at this distance and at this track — of any horse in the field.  But her last effort — on turf — was lackluster.
  • Will Mei Ling (#4, 4-1) improve again — returning to a route — to begin to justify her $500K purchase price?
  • How much will Kate Greenaway (#5, 6-1) improve going a longer distance and making her second start of her career?


No reason to chase a favorite here — whether Guilty Verdict/GasparillaInn (if both go) or Make it Anywhere.  Make it Anywhere has a question that doesn’t justify a low price.  Questions aren’t a problem; the low return is!  I like to look for horses with questions — these are the only ones that you can get a good return on.  When I expect those questions are likely to be answered with good performance, I bet.

Either Mei Ling or Kate Greenaway or are better choices.  Both are likely to improve going a longer distance. Cape Song looms a big force in this race, but the price will likely be reflective of the speed and Clement brings them back ready.

I’d have a tough time going not going 5-deep to feel really safe here on a pick-5 here, if there was a substantial investment at risk. And that could really blow up the ticket, depending upon your views ahead. That said, sharp players may be able to gain real value by keying on one horse in this race, and using your money to go deeper in the other legs (which will be uncovered because other players have gone deep here.)  Pressed, I’d go with Kate Greenaway, especially floating around 6-1.

Good luck today!  I’lll be back later to recap what ACTUALLY happened in the race.

POSTSCRIPT:  Mei Ling justified that purchase price and showed that she may be ready for a move up to stakes company in the near future.  She improved again, took control early, and was so much the best today at 7/2.  Not bad, but there was still a good amount of risk for that price. Kate Greenaway looked ok, but the price wasn’t really anything (3-1) given the inherent risk in betting a not fast enough horse.  Cape Song needed this race. Hope you’re alive in the Pick 5, and see you tomorrow!