Gambling logic suggests that there isn’t much money to be made in betting favorites. However, I think there are ways to squeeze a few bucks out of situations where favorites seem imposing, and there’s a chance to do just that in Sunday’s eighth race at Belmont Park.
A regally-bred first-time starter headlines the field of seven, and she’ll almost certainly be a short price. With that in mind, here’s how I’ll attack the race!
It’s hard to get past #6 ORSAY on top. The daughter of Triple Crown winner American Pharoah and multiple Grade 1 winner Life at Ten fetched $1.2 million at auction, and she’s worked well this past summer and fall.
As first-time starters go, there aren’t a lot of holes here. Chad Brown can get a debuting runner ready to go, and if Orsay runs to the pedigree, she’ll be formidable. I liked her before her initially-planned debut at Saratoga (she scratched prior to the race), and I like her a lot here.
The Other Logical Firster
#4 SUMMER FORTUNE may not be as blue-blooded as Orsay, but her pedigree hints that she’s a runner. She’s by top first-out sire Violence and out of a mare named Summer Dream, whose prior six runners to race all found the winner’s circle. Jeremiah Englehart trainees must be respected in spots like these, and the $200,000 price tag means she made a good impression at a younger age.
If there’s a concern here, it’s the work tab. Summer Fortune boasts a bullet drill last week at Saratoga, but her workouts leading up to that weren’t anything to write home about. Still, that move at the Spa may mean she’s heading in the right direction, and she may be rounding into form.
The Lone Returning Runner
#3 FASHION RULES is the lone entrant with any prior experience, and that race may be better than it looks. She broke slowly, yet rallied a bit to salvage fourth at a bit of a price. It’s rare to see a horse close in its debut, and that tells me this one could have some potential.
Shug McGaughey’s runners tend to need a race or two to get going, and it’s encouraging to see that Fashion Rules gets Lasix for the first time. She’s 10-1 on the morning line, and I really hope we get that price when the field goes postward.
How I’ll Play It
As I mentioned earlier, Orsay is going to be very tough. I’m going to try to extract value out the situation by keying her in exactas and small trifectas atop Fashion Rules and Summer Fortune. I’ll also hedge slightly with small exactas that use those two atop the probable favorite.
3 units: Exacta key, 6 w/3,4
1 unit: Exacta key, 3,4 w/6
1 unit: Trifecta key: 6 w/3,4 w/3,4