Belmont Stakes festival Thursday stakes picks

2017belmont-678x381Here are stakes picks for Thursday’s Belmont Park racing festival card. Scratches as of 12:30 didn’t change any picks.

Race 3 | Grade III Wonder Again Stakes | 1 1/8 miles inner turf

1. Dream Dancing
2. New Money Honey
3. Corporate Queen
4. Fifty Five

Comment: As Edgewood Stakes winner La Coronel heads off to Royal Ascot, the runner-up Dream Dancing gets her own stage to shine outside the shadow of her stablemate. New Money Honey figures to improve in her second start of the year for a trainer and would not surprise as a deserving favorite. Corporate Queen tries the grass for the first time and was third in the Black Eyed Susan despite stumbling at the start.

Race 5 | Astoria Stakes | 5 1/2 furlongs 

1. Sugar Queen
2. Best Performance
3. I Still Miss You
4. Di Maria

Comment: Sugar Queen, training in Saratoga for Pletcher, overcame a bobble at the start to win her debut. Best Performance can sit just off and advance. I Still Miss You must be considered but giving others a nod as I Still Miss You exits state-bred company. Di Maria looks impressive on paper, but this may be a steeper than doable jump. Waki Patriot would be the best story, entering the hallowed ground of Belmont Park after training at Ellis Park and the former standardbred oval Riverside Downs, both in Henderson, Ky.

Race  8 | Grade III Intercontinental Stakes | 7 furlongs turf

1. Take These Chains
2. Mississippi Delta
3. Portmagee
4. Conquest Babygaga

Comment: Take These Chains is a winner on the course at the distance and has room to improve in the year’s second start. Mississippi Delta drops down a level of graded company and could be sitting on a big race. Portmagee is two for two over the Belmont lawn and tries to carry the streak a furlong farther than those wins.

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