If Belmont Stakes Day isn’t the best top-to-bottom day of racing in America, it’s close — an no state-bred race in the middle of the card like the old days. Here are stakes picks for Saturday’s Belmont Stakes Day card, as described last year, an annual cornucopia of wagering opportunities. Updated to reflect scratches as of 10 a.m. ET.
Race 3 | Easy Goer Stakes | 1 1/16 miles
4. Still Dreaming
Comment: After six straight wins, Alwaysmining tried the Grade 1 Preakness Stakes and had it handed to him. A return to ungraded company and knocking a furlong off the distance will help him get a win. Outshine similarly returns to ungraded company and wouldn’t surprise and this type of a layoff is right in Todd Pletcher’s wheelhouse. Giving a slight edge to Alwaysmining. Confirmed frontrunner Majid will try to steal it on the front end.
Race 4 | Grade I Longines Just a Game Stakes | 1 mile turf
1. Rushing Fall
2. Beau Recall
4. Daddy Is a Legend
Comment: Rushing Fall has won two Grade 1s in a row and figures to add to her already impressive resume — a multi-race bets single. Beau Recall impressed winning at Churchill Downs Kentucky Derby week in the Grade 2 Distaff Turf Mile — and faces many of those rivals here where she looks to be second best. Environs should get a better break than in her last in Louisville. Daddy is a Legend at her best could get third, but betting this spot is too tough to early for her.
Race 5 |Grade I Ogden Phipps Stakes | 1 1/16 miles
1. Midnight Bisou
2. Come Dancing
3. Escape Clause
4. Pacific Wind
Comment: The belief is that last year’s Oaks contenders were a special bunch, and Midnight Bisou — third in last year’s Kentucky Oaks, but a multiple Grade 1 winner in own right — will prevail based off her most recent win the in the Grade 1 Apple Blossom Handicap at Oaklawn Park. Come Dancing is the morning line favorite and has an affinity for Belmont Park — but her price is too short for a resume that is a notch below Midnight Bisou’s. If you like Midnight Bisou, you have to respect Escape Clause who missed by a nose in the Apple Blossom.
Race 6 | Grade I Jaipur Invitational Stakes | 6 furlongs turf
1. World of Trouble
2. Disco Partner
Comment: World of Trouble gets an edge with a four-race win streak that includes a Grade 1 and a Grade 2 win. Disco Partner looks to repeat and has every right to in his second start of the year. Can’t see Om in the top spot but the horse whose place in history is cemented (the first to beat Triple Crown winner American Pharoah) ran well off the layoff at Churchill and can improve.
Race 7 | Grade I Acorn Stakes | 1 mile
1. Serengeti Empress
2. Ce Ce
4. Cookie Dough
Comment: If you draw a line through the Grade 2 Fair Grounds Oaks where Longines Kentucky Oaks winner Serengeti Empress won, she’s the favorite here as well. So, if her 5/2 morning line holds, sign me up. Maybe Guarana is a wonder-filly based on her 14-length winning debut, but the steep jump is too much to accept at 2-1 favoritism. Ce Ce gets a slight edge over Guarana for the second spot based off a little more experience.
Race 8 | Grade I Woody Stephens Stakes | 7 furlongs
2. Mind Control
3. Honest Mischief
4. Wendell Fong
Comment: Grade 1 winner Complexity is in tough for his 2019 debut, but has posted three bullet works at Saratoga’s Oklahoma track and would offer value at 4-1. Another Grade 1 winner, Mind Control, offers the best resume, but less value.
Race 9 | Grade I Runhappy Metropolitan Handicap | 1 mile
3. Thunder Snow
4. Firenze Fire
Comment: A fantastic edition of the storied Met Mile. Mitole’s powerful win in the Grade 1 Churchill Downs, the latest triumph in a streak of six wins, suggests that the extra furlong shouldn’t be a problem. McKinzie is the other main contender and must be used in multi-race exotics. Thunder Snow, the two-time winner of the Dubai World Cup, seems better suited for a little more distance — but what a resume for a stallion if he wins.
Race 10 | Grade I Manhattan Stakes | 1 1/4 miles inner turf
1. Bricks and Mortar
2. Channel Maker
4. Raging Bull
Comment: Bricks and Mortar looked to be in top form for the Grade 1 Old Forester Turf Classic at Churchill and is the pick. But Channel Maker, a two-time Grade 1 winner at Belmont must be respected and Joel Rosario has the mount after having ridden Raging Bull in every start of that one’s career.
Race 11 | Grade I Belmont Stakes | 1 1/2 miles
Race 13 | Grade II Brooklyn Invitational Stakes | 1 1/2 miles
3. War Story
4. You’re to Blame
Comment: Rocketry can benefit from the longer distance than when Marconi beat him in their last. Those are the main contenders that should be used in multi-race bets. War Story was second in this last year, but probably is a step below the top t