UPDATED: 2019 Belmont Stakes Racing Festival Friday stakes picks

belstakesfestivalHere are stakes picks for Friday’s Belmont Stakes-eve card. Updated to reflect scratches, particularly Maven from the Tremont to run, reports say, at Ascot.

Race 5| Grade III Bed ‘o Roses Invitational | 7 furlongs

1. Separationofpowers
2. Chalon
3. Pacific Gale
4. Dawn the Destroyer

Comment: Two-time Grade 1 winner Separationofpowers figures to improve in her second start of the year off a layoff from the red-hot barn of Chad Brown. Chalon also has upside in her second start of 2019 off of a win in the Skipat Stakes at Pimlico, but she also finishes second almost as often as she wins — but a veritable sure thin to hit the board. Pacific Gale bested Separationofpowers in Grade 3 Vagrancy Handicap.

Race 7 | Tremont Stakes | 5 1/2 furlongs 

1. Rookie Salsa
2. Dixie Mo
3. Memorable
4. Fore Left

Comment: Maven, a son of Triple Crown winner American Pharoah, was an impressive debut winner at Aqueduct Racetrack in April and was the pick prior to his being scratched in favor of Royal Ascot. Rookie Salsa was an upset winner of the Kentucky Juvenile at Churchill Downs Kentucky Derby week and has earned respect. Dixie Mo would appear to be up against it, but Wesley Ward scratched the filly from Thursday’s Astoria Stakes against her gender for this spot. Memorable would not surprise but may have benefited from the slop at Churchill. Fore Left was impressive in debut, but will go elsewhere. The horse he beat in his maiden score at Santa Anita Park won a state-bred maiden next out.

Race  8 | Grade II True North Stakes | 6 1/2 furlongs

1. Whitmore
2. Do Share
3. Nicodemus
4. Catalina Cruiser

Comment: Whitmore, second in this a year ago, has been running behind Mitole more recently and escapes from the best sprinter in the country so far this year. Do Share drops a notch in class and has proven speed. Nicodemus was a winner over the track last out in the Grade 3 Westchester. Betting against Catalina Cruiser in his 2019 debut, but that’s as much about wagering than a class judgment.

Race 9 | Grade II New York Stakes | 1 1/4 miles turf 

1. Homerique
2. Competitionofideas
3. Semper Sententiae
4. Vexatious

Comment: The mulitple Group 1-placed in France Homerique is the best bet of the day stakes-wise. She won the Grade 3 Beaugay at Belmont last month in her U.S. debut, should have no problem with the distance and would seem to be a notch above the competition. Stablemate Competitionofideas is a Grade 1 winner at the distance, and the exacta shouldn’t be any more complicated than those two.

Race 10 | Grade II Belmont Gold Cup Invitational Stakes | 2 miles turf

1. Canessar
2. Arklow
3. Red Knight
4. Hunter O’Riley

Comment: Canessar was second in this last year and gets jockey Joel Rosario, who rode Hunter O’Riley in that one’s last start. Arklow looks primed for this off a second in the Grade 1 Man o’ War and should relish the extra distance. Red Knight has a win at the distance at Gulfstream Park, while Hunter O’Riley has two races at the distance, a third in 2016 at Gulstream and a fifth in this race in 2017 where he was beaten just two and a half lengths.

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