Saturday Free Horse Racing Picks: Grand Slam at Belmont | May 22, 2021
One wager I enjoy playing in certain circumstances is the Grand Slam, which is offered at New York tracks. For those unfamiliar, it’s a four-leg sequence that ends in the penultimate race of the card. Players must select at least one horse that runs first, second, or third in the first three legs before picking the winner of the payoff leg.
This wager can be played for as little as $1, and the same ticket can have plenty of live combinations at the same time (and, thusly, allow the player to hit the wager multiple times). It doesn’t always fit the way a card is set up, but my opinions on Saturday’s card at Belmont Park line up well with it, so I’ll give out an $18 play in this space. Let’s take a look!
The Grand Slam pays best when a favorite or two runs out of the money early on. This is good, because I don’t like #6 VODKA LEMONADE much at all here. He tired to third and was beaten four lengths last time out in a race that doesn’t hit me as a strong one. I’ll try to beat him.
#1 HOT DOCTOR is my top selection. He ran reasonably well in his debut, where he made a move before flattening out to finish fourth at odds of 20-1. He’s bred up and down for the turf, should improve with experience, and attracts Luis Saez for trainer Jeremiah Englehart. I think there’s a lot to like here, and I think he offers a lot of value at or near his 8-1 morning line price.
I’ll also use #7 ROGUE LEADER, who ran deceptively well off the bench last time out. He didn’t have a great trip that day and had every right to need a race given the freshening that came before it. He’s been gelded since that outing and should relish the extra furlong he gets here.
This $20,000 claiming event drew 10 horses and nine betting interests. Many of these runners have been kicking around New York for years, and that makes it a fun race to handicap.
#3 MALIBU PRO is a logical favorite. He’s spent most of his career running for higher claiming tags and goes first off the claim for the red-hot Rob Falcone barn, which has won with four of its first nine starters at the Belmont meet. It’s an aggressive outfit, so the drop doesn’t bother me much, and I think he’s got a good chance here.
I’ll also use a pair of runners on win streaks. #6 EAGLE PASS and #7 HEAVY ROLLER have each won two in a row, and the former is a juicy 9/2 on the morning line. That one was very impressive earlier this month and has not lost over this main track.
Older fillies and mares bred in New York will line up for this allowance race. It’s attracted a field of 10, and for the second leg in a row, I’m going three-deep.
I’m using #7 BREAKFASTATBONNIES, but the 9/5 chalk is not my top pick. I prefer #6 TRINNI LUCK at a price. The one time we’ve seen her run, she was very good in breaking her maiden at Gulfstream Park. She’s been off for a while, but the last several works at Belmont are sharp, and that stretch includes a recent half-mile bullet drill.
In addition to those two, I’m also throwing in #8 BANKERS DAUGHTER, who seems to run the same race every time out and goes second off the bench for a barn hitting at a 21% clip in 2021. Perhaps that effort isn’t good enough to get her in the winner’s circle, but it can certainly allow her to get a piece of it, and in this wager, that’s all I need.
I’ve saved two Grand Slam tips for last. First, you’ll notice I didn’t go deeper than three-deep in an early leg, and that’s by design. Using four or more runners ensures you’ll be playing at least one losing combination, and it’s not sound money management.
The second tip is that a vital component of a Grand Slam ticket is a single in the last leg. Structuring the wager in this way means you’ll be playing an enhanced-odds win bet, so if you have a strong opinion in the fourth race of the sequence, you can extract value from it.
I’m singling #5 GET SMOKIN, whose race in the Grade 1 Makers Mark Mile at Keeneland is a total throw-out. He dueled through blistering fractions against far better horses that day, so I have no problem drawing a line through that race. He won the Grade 3 Tampa Bay two back and captured the Grade 2 Hill Prince in wire-to-wire fashion over this turf course last fall. I think he’ll have every chance to control the Seek Again Stakes from the start, and because of that, I’ll let my Grand Slam fortunes ride with him on Saturday afternoon.