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On Friday, June 10, Belmont Racecourse will feature five graded stakes races including the Grade I New York Stakes. Get Matthew DeSantis' picks and analysis for each of the five graded stakes races on Friday's card.
ANALYSIS

2022 New York Stakes Predictions: Free Belmont Friday Picks

While everyone is excited for Saturday and the NINE graded stakes races that day, Friday's card at Belmont is also pretty loaded with five graded stakes races of its own, including the prestigious Grade I New York Stakes. Significant thunderstorms are expected throughout the day Thursday, but Friday is forecast to be pleasant and sunny. It's possible some of the turf races may feature slightly softer ground, but the races should remain on the grass. The day features some of the best turf horses in North America and one of the best sprinters in the world.

Let's get into our Belmont Friday predictions and picks.

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Race 3 Prediction

  • Distance: 7 furlongs
  • Name: Bed o' Roses Stakes - Grade II
  • Age: 4-year-old and up fillies & mares
  • Surface: Dirt

Let's start the day off with a Grade II race that features a tiny four-horse field, but what it lacks in size it makes up for in quality. Three time graded stakes winner Bella Sofia (even) is the morning line favorite and will set the pace up front. Her last effort was a close victory at the Grade III Vagrancy Stakes over this same Belmont surface where she has picked up four of her five career victories. Her only significant slip up in her seven race career was last year's Breeders' Cup Filly and Mare Sprint where she locked up with Gamine on the front end. On Friday it is unlikely that she will face significant pace pressure from any of the other runners in the field given her strong tactical speed.

The closest runner to her early will likely be long shot Easy to Bless (15-1). She's a perfectly adequate sprinter, but is in over her head and is going longer than she would prefer. Her early speed is more ideally suited for six furlong sprints. The small field and lack of pressure from others will probably help her run her best race and she has had success at Belmont with two wins in five starts. However, her speed figures are a significant step below the other three in the field.

Glass Ceiling (8-5) and Obligatory (2-1) are going to hope Easy to Bless pressures Bella Sofia enough that it can open things up for the two of them to make a run at her late. Glass Ceiling has had a meteoric rise over the last year having gone from running in claiming races to having won consecutive Grade III sprints the last two times out. Her speed figures have been slowly climbing to the level of Bella Sofia and her effort last time out might be enough to win here. She's won five of her last six, but this will be her biggest test yet. Meanwhile, Obligatory is coming off three consecutive wins include a the Grade I Derby City Distaff last time out. She's a closer but will not be too far back due to the small field size. Like Glass Ceiling, she's been getting faster in each of her last three races and I believe seven furlongs is her best distance.

Race 3 Picks

  • Win: Obligatory (2-1)
  • Place: Bella Sofia (1-1)
  • Show: Glass Ceiling (8-5)

Race 8 Prediction

  • Distance: 2 miles
  • Name: Belmont Gold Cup Invitational Stakes - Grade II
  • Age: 4-year-olds and up
  • Surface: Turf

It's not often you see two mile races in North America, but the Belmont Gold Cup Invitational makes Saturday's Belmont Stakes look like a sprint. Two European invaders are among the three favorites. Outbox (2-1) is the morning line favorite and has been running against very strong competition across the pond the last few times out. He's only run two miles twice and never hit the board, but those were both on synthetic. His pedigree is impeccable and he gets Hollie Doyle on the mount. Unlike many European shippers, he is not coming back from a layoff as he ran less than a month ago at Newbury in Great Britain.

I'm more intrigued by the other European shipper, Loft (4-1) who is coming over from Germany where he just recently won at two miles. He seems to relish more distance as he has been slowly ramped up over the last several races and keeps improving. Like Outbox, he's fresh having raced in May and he likes soft ground. With the thunderstorms coming through on Thursday, he feels like a good bet.

The top North American horse in the field is Abaan (5-2) who won last year at two miles at the H. Allen Jerkins, but has been disappointing the last few times out. He has proven no match for some of the top turf distance horses like Gufo and Yibir. I can excuse his 5th-place trip three races back as he was in all sorts of trouble, but his performance at the Man o' War Stakes leaves something to be desired.

A couple of longer shots to consider are Box n Score (15-1) and Cibolian (10-1). Box n Score is making his graded stakes debut after putting up some solid efforts in high-level allowance races. He's stretching out, but he is bred for it. His dam, Game, has produced great distance winners at a high rate and the average winning turf route distance for her offspring is nearly 10 furlongs and they seem to relish some give in the turf. All of that leads me to believe he's a live shot to surprise. Cibolian gets top jockey Flavien Prat aboard and has hit the board in five of his last seven races. He's a consistent, if unspectacular, horse and he's handled "good" turf conditions in his last three efforts.

This race likely comes down to the two Europeans and I'll take a little big a swing at the better price as Loft is proven at the distance and will like the turf conditions.

Race 8 Picks

  • Win: Loft (4-1)
  • Place: Outbox (2-1)
  • Show: Box n Score (15-1)
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Race 9 Prediction

  • Distance: 6 1/2 furlongs
  • Name: True North Stakes - Grade II
  • Age: 4-year-olds and up
  • Surface: Dirt

The True North Stakes features one of the best dirt sprinters in the world in the form of Jackie's Warrior (2-5). He has won 10 of his 14 career races and his only bad performance sprinting was last year at the Breeders' Cup Sprint when he was pressured the whole way around. The potential for a speed duel exists again if Mr Phil (5-1), breaking from the far inside, decide to go early as well. His jockey, Kendrick Carmouche, is one of the more aggressive on the New York circuit and he will need to try and get clear due to his inside post position. The question is whether he decides to put pressure on Jackie's Warrior or simply sit off of him in a clear second place position. Mr Phil is not cheap speed as he's won his last three since being claimed by Rob Atras and has gotten faster each time out including his last effort where he broke a 100 Beyer Speed Figure. This will be his graded stakes debut and it may prove to be a bit too much of a hill to climb.

If a speed duel breaks out, the beneficiary might be Baby Yoda (8-1). After his sizzling summer at Saratoga last year, Baby Yoda cooled off by getting outclassed at the Grade II Vosburgh and then turning in a clunker in a stakes race at Mahoning Valley. Since then he has not finished worse than second with two wins, though it coincided with a drop in class. Still, he should be sitting behind the speed of Jackie's Warrior and Mr Phil and when he's at his best, we've seen what he can do.

Sound Money (9-2) has great connections with trainer Chad Brown and jockey Irad Ortiz Jr., but I am not sure 6 1/2 furlongs is his best distance. He's cutting back from a mile, which is typically a nice move, but he did not break his maiden until he left sprinting to run at a mile. The race should set up nicely for him since he's breaking from the far outside and can survey the field before picking his spot. Like Baby Yoda, he may benefit from some pace up front. War Tocsin (30-1) and Night Time (12-1) are going to have to run career efforts to his the board.

Ultimately, this really comes down to whether you think Jackie's Warrior is going to get pressured the way he did at the Breeders' Cup. I do think Mr Phil applies pressure, but not enough to make a difference. I don't think Jackie's Warrior is the lock he might seem at 2-5 odds, but it's hard to get past him in this race.

Race 9 Picks

  • Win: Jackie's Warrior (2-5)
  • Place: Baby Yoda (8-1)
  • Show: Mr Phil (5-1)

Click here for Belmont Stakes Odds

New York Stakes Race 10 Prediction

  • Distance: 1 1/4 miles
  • Name: New York Stakes - Grade I
  • Age: 4-year-old and up fillies & mares
  • Surface: Turf

The Grade I New York Stakes feels like trainer Chad Brown's personal playground. He has four entries in this year's edition of the race including the three favorites: Rougir (6-5), Bleeker Street (5-2), and Family Way (3-1). They are an impressive trio as each is coming off of a graded stakes victory last time out and they all have a strong turn of foot. The problem is that there does not appear to be any pace. Enter Chad Brown's fourth horse, Flighty Lady (15-1). She's hardly a speed demon, but she's shown tactical speed in previous races and will go to the front.

Stacking the three Brown favorites against each other is interesting and you can probably tell his preference based on his jockey selection with Rougir getting Flavien Prat, Bleeker Street getting Irad Ortiz Jr. and Virginia's Joy getting Trevor McCarthy. All three are excellent, but lately Brown typically has been giving his best to Prat and then Ortiz Jr. followed by McCarthy.

That said, Rougir is hardly unbeatable. She's won two of her last three, but went through a lull in 2021. Perhaps coming over to North America and Brown's barn was the necessary move to get her perked up. Virginia's Joy has won three of her last five starts in North America and last time out she wired the field and won by 14 lengths at the Grade II Sheepshead Bay Stakes over this same Belmont Turf. She should sit closest to the lead of all the Brown horses and if the pace is slow, she might benefit. Meanwhile, Bleeker Street will be the one sitting at the back and the lack of pace could be detrimental. However, all Bleeker Street has done is WIN EVERY RACE IN HER CAREER. That's right, she's 6 for 6 with two Grade III and one Grade II victories. That said, she's a cut below the other two in terms of speed figures and her running style might not be great for this race.

Outside of the Brown trio, think about using Family's Way (8-1). The Brendan Walsh horse is extremely consistent and is 4-6 in her career at the distance. She came up short against Virginia's Joy two back and then lost to Warlike Goddess last time out, but those were strong place finishes. Like Virginia's Joy, she should be close to the lead and can get an early jump. It's impossible to fade all of Brown's horses, but I think this race sets up well for Virginia's Joy and McCarthy who has been riding incredibly well lately as picked up his first Grade I win just a few weeks ago on the Belmont turf in the Man o' War Stakes.

New York Stakes Race 10 Picks

  • Win: Virginia's Joy (3-1)
  • Place: Rougir (6-5)
  • Show: Family's Way (8-1)

Race 11

  • Distance: 6 furlongs
  • Name: Intercontinental Stakes - Grade III
  • Age: 4-year-old and up fillies & mares
  • Surface: Turf

We get a massive 13-horse field to close out the card on Friday and another graded stakes race on the turf for the ladies. This race gives you lots of prices to play after some short odds in the earlier graded stakes races. Three horses that jump out to me are Caravel (4-1), Star Devine (10-1), and Illegal Smile (10-1). Caravel is a fascinating horse for trainer Brad Cox as she regularly runs against the boys but is dominant against the ladies. She's won eight of her 10 career races against fillies and mares including the Queen Stakes on the synthetic at Turfway Park two races ago. She never wins races against the boys, but perhaps Cox thinks it toughens her up and whenever she dips her toe back into her own division she wins.

Star Devine is a lightly-raced horse with improving speed figures who has yet to run her best race, which is typically a great recipe for bettors. Breaking from the inside post is less than ideal, but she's shown enough tactical speed to make me think she'll avoid significant trouble. Out of her five career starts, her two worst performances came above seven furlongs, but at this distance she has two wins and a second. Additionally, this will be her second race back after a significant layoff so she should be ready to fire.

Illegal Smile is yet another accomplished turf sprinter in Wesley Ward's stable. Typically getting 10-1 on a Ward sprinter on turf is impossible, but Illegal Smile is taking a step up in class. What I like about this particular filly is that she is versatile having the ability to run well up close to the lead or sitting further back. Additionally, she's coming off consecutive victories her last two times out both of which were on "good" turf, which is likely to be the conditions for Friday. Ward will have her ready to fire and her jockey, Carmouche, will make sure she gets out of the gate well.

Now, if you're looking for a massive long shot play, let me suggest The Grass is Blue (50-1). She's never run on turf before, but her pedigree suggests that she'll love it and her trainer, Graham Motion, is heating up. Ignoring the surface, she's won three of her four career sprints and her form only looks muddied up by repeated races at a mile or longer. She's formidable at this distance and if she takes to the turf she can give you a huge payoff even if you use her underneath.

Race 11 Picks

  • Win: Caravel (4-1)
  • Place: Illegal Smile (10-1)
  • Show: Star Devine (10-1)

Come back tomorrow for my picks and analysis for all of the graded stakes races on Saturday's Belmont card.

Article Author

Horse Racing

Matthew DeSantis is a horse racing handicapper with a fondness for lightly raced horses with improving speed figures. You can find him at the track playing surface changes and second off the layoff.

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