Belmont Park kicks into high gear for another great week of racing starting Wednesday with an eight race card highlighted by the feature, a $55,000 starter allowance for 3-year-olds and up over 1 1/16 miles on the inner turf.
A field of seven in race 7 is set to go off at 4:40 p.m. ET.
#7, Scholar Athlete, Manuel Franco, 5-1
Making his 31st career start (7-0-5), we are going to take a shot with Scholar Athlete. Two starts back, he won his first race this season by three-quarters of a length as the favorite in an allowance optional claimer at Colonial Downs on Aug. 9. In his last start, he placed fourth as the fourth choice in a $75,000 handicap at Colonial Downs on Sept. 5. But we will be riding on this fact, in his lone start at Belmont on May 12, 2016 (yes, it’s been over three years), he won an $80,000 AOC by 1 ¾ lengths with Jose Ortiz aboard. He doesn’t have Jose today, but does get the meet’s leading rider thus far this year in Manuel Franco, who will be able to place him wherever he wants, leaving from outside post No. 7 for trainer H. Graham Motion. The pick.
#5, Lemonist, John Velazquez, 8-5
Lemonist has been in the money in six of his seven starts this season (1-3-2), including his last start, a third-place finish to his stablemate - Noble Indy - in a $100,000 optional claiming race just a mere 12 days ago. His last win came in a $51,000 allowance race by 1 1/4 lengths in an allowance race at Gulfstream Park on Feb. 23. John Velazquez returns for his second straight start in the saddle for trainer Todd Pletcher and will be leaving from post 5. This winning duo is closing in on 1,790 wins together, but the chase will have to wait another race as Lemonist, who is 0-for-3 on the Belmont turf, will be second-best. Runner-up.
#2, Sentry, Joel Rosario, 9-2
Sentry will be making his sixth start this year (1-1-0), where he is coming off his first triumph, a neck win as the favorite in an allowance optional claimer at Colonial Downs on Aug. 30 with Forest Boyce in the saddle for trainer Shug McGaughey. In six career tries at Belmont, he has yet to finish first. He will have Joel Rosario in the irons from post No. 2 to reverse that trend. In the mix.
#1, Siding Spring, Jose Ortiz, 7-2
In his last start, he won by a length with Jose Lezcano aboard in a $50,000 claiming race here on Sept. 8., holding off a late rally by Lucky Ramsey. Trainer Mike Maker picked him up after that win and comes back in less than a month to try and make it two straight. Jose Ortiz is aboard from the rail and always poses a threat. Siding Spring will be making his 26th career start (5-1-4) and his ninth this year (2-0-1). Contender.
By Lou Monaco