Saturday, June 11, 2022
BEL Race #10 $1,500.000 11/2 Dirt
3YOs 126/121 Lbs
Track Record-2:27.64 (Has The Answers-2014)
Stakes Record-2:29.37 (Crown Heights-2011)
The TC season comes to a close for the 19th time with the “Test of the Champion”-The BEL-G1. Unlike last year there is no TC on the line, but we do have an overprescribed field with 16 in the gate and four on the AE list. The winner will take home the lion’s share of the $1,500.000 purse and, if the KYD or PRK winner gets home, could solidify their standing as the leader of their crop. Mb Stables (2015, 2017, 2018, 2019) has taken this event on four occasions and just missed taking his fifth in a heart-breaking finish for Howl Of The Hound in his TC bid in 2021.
With 13 individual graded stake winners in the field, the quality for this year’s G1 BEL is well apparent. Gigabyte and All Take, the respective winners of the G1 KYD and G1 PRK, are each looking to equal Howl Of The Hound as winners of 2/3 of the TC series. To do so, they will have to get the trip and have the stamina to turn their good fortune into a victory. This isn’t a match race though as we have four other G1 winners in the field and graded winners in almost every stall of the gate. Here’s a look at each of the 16-runners in the gate for The BEL-G1:
#1 Ey Mon (Arindel/R. Gutierrez 126): From the rail we get the winner of the G3 Lexington and runner-up, beaten a nose, in the G1 PRK. Gelding hasn’t been out of the exacta in six starts this season and has gone from the maiden ranks to competing in 2/3 of the TC in very short order. Run in the G1 PRK was a change in tactics as he rallied from well off of the pace after being on/near the front in the five races prior. With this draw, he should come out of there running and his most recent work says he’s still improving. Looks to be involved every step of the way.
#2 All Take (Alydar Stables/D. Moran 126): G1 PRK winner will try to take his 2nd leg of the TC after just getting the best of Ey Mon at PIM. Gelding should be able to secure the rail shortly after the break as he doesn’t figure to match strides with the horse drawn inside of him. That should allow him to save ground as he makes his way around the track, but he’ll have to be careful not to get too far back as this first time going 12-furlongs figures to be tough on everyone. He was on a good form cycle until the G2 Wood Memorial and G1 KYD, so he could be ready to produce another big effort now that the kinks have been worked out.
#3 Uranus (Smokey Stover/E.T. Baird 126): Gelding hasn’t done much running in two races since March; however, look to his inside to see how quickly form can change here at HRP. Prior to those two runs, he was finding success both on and off of the pace. If the two poor runs can be forgiven, he figures to sit an excellent trip from this inside draw given his early foot. Even if he takes back, he should be able to find the rail fairly soon and plot his course from there. Barn entered three here so you can bet he has a plan, and, with the year he is having, would not be a surprise to see this one run his eyeballs out.
#4 Ocean Of Wisdom (Nakamura Stables/E.J. Wilson 126): He was good enough to snag a G3 and a G2 during the KYD prep season, but he hasn’t found any good fortune in the first two TC races. Draws much better for this and he had a really sharp 1-mile work on June 1. He’ll have to figure out a trip as he likes to settle off of the pace and there are a couple inside of him that could cause him trouble as he tries to move closer to the rail. There was a reason he was the post time favorite in the G1 KYD and he just needs to find the right spot to settle into before launching his bid. Feels like we see a better performance from him this time.
#5 The Martian (Mo Mentum Farm/D.E. Centeno 126): Colt only has one win, but he’s built a nice bankroll facing his generation’s best with a 2nd, two 3rd’s, and a 4th during the prep season. He most recently finished 4th in the G1 PRK, but he was only beaten by a half-length for all of it, and he’s got a stalking style that should benefit him from this inner-third draw. Still, for all of his earning, have to believe his owner would love to see him win this one to solidify his prospects as a stallion. His only bad race came when he wheeled-back on short rest to run in the G3 Lexington in a last-ditch effort to make the KYD; if he handles it better this time, he’s shown he can at least compete with the best of these.
#6 Changing Times (D J C Racing Stables/M. Franco 126): Tons of buzz surrounding the winner of the G1 Bluegrass and he was held out of the PRK so he would be fresh for this one. Gelding came with a strong rally in the KYD to be fourth, beaten only a length, and there’s nothing wrong with the work tab since. He looks to be a classic mid-pack horse (four or five lengths off of the pace), and if he gets that trip without being four-wide here, he could be extremely dangerous. Like the fact that Franco retained the ride and they figure to have every chance as they enter the stretch at “Big Sandy”.
#7 Up In Smoke (Fractious/J.C. Ferrer 126): $350.000 purchase in the middle of the prep season quickly rewarded the new barn’s faith with a victory in the G2 Wood Memorial. Trainer then ponied-up the full $50 entry fee for a chance in the G1 KYD, and, although he finished 11th, he was only beaten three lengths by the winner. Grinder-type has done enough in the mornings for the owner to again pay the full nomination fee, so have to imagine he’s expecting better here. He’s been spotting the field quite a bit of ground recently; however, he did take a G1 as a juvenile while making all of the running. Maybe he lays closer this time and takes a chance on getting first run on the field.
#8 Spiced (Smokey Stover/J.R. Velazquez 126): Winner of the G3 Peter Pan showed he had some fight in that determined victory. That was his first win this season after a couple of narrow misses that cost him a spot in the KYP starting gate. May not have cared for the mud when 9th in the G2 Wood Memorial, but that’s really the only poor effort on his page. He took a G2 as a juvenile, so the elusive G1 is all that’s missing from his resume and the rare (for this barn) 5f work after the most recent may be very informative as to how the conditioner feels about his ability to get this marathon distance. Gut feeling is this one is a major player.
#9 Thunder Gultch (Broken Spoke Stables/S. Elliott 126): First of two for this barn that is having a banner year. G3 Ruby winner was third, only beaten a length, in the KYD and has been waiting in the wings since. He’s drawn a little wider today than he was five weeks ago; however, he has shown enough versatility to be a threat from here. This will only be the 7th start of his career, so there’s still some upside for a horse that was working sub-1:37 all the way back in February.
#10 Gigabyte (Smokey Stover/L. Saez 126): G1 KYD hero just missed in his bid for the G1 PRK. Ultra-consistent runner has never been out of the money in nine starts, but he hasn’t gotten a lot of respect at the windows so far in the TC series. That should change on Saturday, but, even though he won from stall 10 in the KYD, he’ll need to work out a trip. Helps that he has some versatility and the trainer hasn’t done much wrong in 2022. With early-season division supremacy on the line, expect him to be right where he always seems to be when the money is on the line.
#11 Everymanforhimself (Mb Stables/A. Cedillo 126): First of two in the main body of the field for this barn and he gets caught wide in a TC race…again. KYD non-effort was too bad to be believed for a horse that had shown such an affinity for being on the pace. The bad news for him, even when he gets out of the gate, he always seems to give up the lead when he faces these types. Now, the pace for this should be much softer and maybe, just maybe, he can relax a little bit and have more left in the tank to try to hold these guys (and gal) off. Needs to prove that the KYD was an outlier; however, a wise man would never count this barn out of a race they have won more than anyone else.
#12 Mickey (South Shore Stables/E. Jaramillo 126): Ran well enough to only be beaten by two lengths in the KYD when he finished 8th from stall 19. Drew much better in the PRK but never really fired. Prior to those two efforts, he had shown an affinity for being involved from the start. That may be difficultto do from out here, but maybe mixing it up early will unlock his best run. He did take a G3 and a G1 during teh prep season, so the talent’s there. If he gets back to that form he should be ultra competitive.
#13 Karloffs Monster (TwinTowersRacing/T. Gaffalione 121): Filly did some good work against the boys during the prep season before ultimately deciding to go in the G1 KYO. Interestingly, she ran her worst race of the season in that all female contest and will take the five-pound break at the scales to try this marathon distance. While she caught a break on the scales, this draw is a whole different animal. She’s another that does her best work from a stalking position, but it will be tough to get anywhere close to the rail from out here. The good news is the pace shouldn’t be too hot, so anything less than four-wide shouldn’t hamper her chances too bad. The problem will be getting that position. Filly is talented and a lot of these have finished behind her, she just needs a little luck to get the right trip.
#14 Pluckzy (Gdp Inc/C.J. Hernandez 126): Made the jump from turf MSW victory to G1 SA Derby winner easy enough, but the KYD didn’t go his way. That effort can be forgiven as you can’t really hold a poor showing in a 20-horse field against anyone. Been well-prepped for this since and should be ready to fire off of the five week respite. G1’s aren’t won by accident, so anyone thinking this guy may be a one hit wonder may want to give him a second look. He’s making only the 8th start of his career and his third in a G1 event. We’re drawing a line through his last effort and expect a much better showing here.
#15 Dwindle (Mb Stables/J. Talamo 126): 2nd runner from this barn fared even worse than his stablemate at the draw. He’s another that didn’t run all that well at CD and will be trying to turn the tables here. He set the pace in the KYD from post 13 before fading to finish six lebgths back of the winner. He owns two G3’s and a G2, so he has shown he can defeat quality opposition. Again, trainer knows how to win this one better than anyone, but winning it from out here will take all of the skill he has.
#16 Sunshine Scooter (Broken Spoke Stables/M.E. Smith 126): G2 FOY winner struggled in the G1 FL Derby and G1 KYD before putting forth a better effort in the G1 PRK. Starts from the outside draw for the 2nd consecutive race against G1 company so he has some work to do; however, he made up ground late in the PRK to only be beaten by a length. If he can get a trip that doesn’t see him wide throughout, he has shown he can kick on in the latter stages and pass good horses. Horse is due some good luck and don’t be surprised if he’s not finding his best stride as they thunder down the lane.
Final Analysis: As you can tell, there’s not a single horse that you can toss, but the KYD and PRK winners look really good, if they are no worse for wear from the first two legs of the TC. We’re going to go in a different direction though and take Thunder Gultch on top with Changing Times right there at the finish. 9-6-10-2 is how we see them shaking out in the G1 BEL. Good luck to everyone involved and a huge thank you for providing us with such an exciting prep season and TC series!