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Sep 11, 2009

THRU THE BINOCULARS

By: John Piesen


BELMONT OPENS UP
And I have my Opening Day Pick-3!
It's the perfect bankroll builder!

Saratoga is in the rear view mirror, replaced by Belmont Park's 33-day fall meeting that opens Friday in foul weather. So predictably foul that the NYRA racing office, in an unprecedented move, postponed the scheduled opening-day grass stake, the Bowling Green Handicap, to Sunday.

But one important thing hasn't changed.

Virtually every Saratoga stakes included a short-priced favorite. Most of those favorites had no problem winning.

That scenario appears to carry over to Belmont. There are two Grade One stakes on tap for Saturday, and both -- the Ruffian and the Garden City -- boast odds-on favorites -- Seventh Street and Gozzip Girl, respectively.

(Wonder how long before we see a Rachel Alexandra Stakes in New York -- and in Kentucky, Maryland, and Arkansas).

Seventh Street, the Apple Blossom winner at OP, and Gozzip Girl both are unanimous selections in Daily Racing Form, and the Ruffian -- at least on paper -- is such a poor betting race that it was carded as race four...out of the Pick Six, and out of the $350,000 guaranteed late Pick Four.

And just check out this DRF quote from Graham Motion, who has Skylighter -- coupled with Seventh Street -- in the Ruffian.

"My mare is going great," says Motion, "but it would be a stretch to think she could beat Seventh Street. If she could get a piece of a Grade One, it would be a feather in her cap."

(Translation: It would spike her value as a broodmare.)

The two Grade Ones appear so one-sided that I regretfully must pass on them when making my selections for the John Piesen Hot Line(888 612 2283), also available here online, and concentrate on the undercard.

But then again the undercard presents a handicapping problem as well. Four of the races (in addition to the Garden City) are scheduled for the weeds, which may be wishful thinking.

I can only hope that, as the meet goes on, all or most of the scheduled 34 stakes will be more competitive.

Maragh and Desormeaux, third and fifth in the Saratoga standings, are the respective riders of Seventh Street and Gozzip Girl, and both figure to continue their success downstate.

After a slow start, Maragh finished the Spa meet with 33 winners, and Desormeaux, riding first call for fellow Hall of Famer Mott, concluded the stand with 26 trips to the winner's circle.

That said, there is every reason to believe that Dominguez will be the dominant rider at the Belmont meet since he's won every New York meet, including Saratoga, this year. Since shipping from Delaware, Ramon has taken charge of the New York riding colony, much in the manner as Cordero, Bailey and Prado did before him.

But, like those superstars, Dominguez can be poison at the windows. Most everything he rides is overbet, leaving little or no value. On Saturday, Ramon has nine calls on the 10-race program, and, needless to say, most of them are live.

No doubt, Garcia will be a major player. He always is. Alan, who rides first call for Godolphin, which went 8-for-14 at Saratoga, had the best winning percentage (20) at the Spa...despite the incredible fact that he went 0-for-32 on the final two Saturdays and Sundays.

Also look for Castellano, Lezcano and Chavez to ride their share of winners on Long Island.

As for the trainers, look for Contessa to rebound from a sub-par Saratoga meet, where he posted an 11-10-15 starters from 105 starters. Gary, as usual, didn't have the upscale horses to win regularly at Saratoga, but Belmont is a new ballgame. He'll run the most horses, and likely win the most races.

As for Linda Rice, who, at Saratoga, became the first woman to win a training title at a major track, the chances are remote that she'll repeat at Belmont, but I wouldn't be surprised if she finishes in the top five. I would imagine that her Spa success will translate into more deep-pocketed owners.

Look for trainers Hushion and Albertrani to win on a regular basis at Belmont, if for no other reason than West Point (Terry Finley) split with trainer McLaughlin this week, and sent its horses to Hushion and Albertrani.

I look especially for Hushion, who was 9-for-28 at Saratoga, to enjoy a big finish to 2009.

Also look for trainers Tagg, Weaver and Carlos Martin to win regularly.

A couple of other handicapping hints:

1) All else being even, you might want to give the edge in claiming and allowance races to the horses who skipped Saratoga. The old fresh and fit angle.

2) Horses, especially closers, who had wide trips at Saratoga, will benefit from the wide, sweeping turn at Belmont.

3) As always, outside posts have the advantage on the dirt at Belmont.

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THEY CAN FOOL JOHN Q. PUBLIC
BUT THEY CAN'T FOOL JOHN Q. PIESEN
I've Found My Opening Day Pick-3 At Belmont Park!
 
I've spent over thirty years as a public handicapper for The Daily Racing Form and The New York Post. After over 25 years of tracking trainer moves, I know hidden value when I see it. I can spot a hot runner that's been prepped and conditioned to run the race of his life. And my information leads me to a Pick-3 when Belmont Park's Fall meet opens on Friday, September 11.
 
I know what to look for. Any kind of overlooked contender that's been conditioned for today's race and is ready to fire! The special maiden claimer due to bust out...The stretch runner prepped to add some early speed it never showed before...The in-form closer from the outside...The class drop that's tailor-made for this spot...The horse that lost gamely and has been wheeled back in eight days...The horse whose form has been deliberately colored to fetch a longer price. The horse that has been brought to hand and is peaking and in form, ready to run the race of his life! We all want winners at GOOD PRICES. And I'm the one who can find them!

On Opening Day at Belmont Park. I have found three races so strong, I'm ready to fire my biggest bullet.
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******************************

That said, let's take a look at the 350K Pick Four:

Race Seven

Let's not write off Wayne Lukas just yet. D. Wayne won the Hopeful last Monday with the very impressive Dublin, and he unveils another good-looking juvenile here named Lambeau Legend in this $43,000 maiden-special at six furlongs.

This is a $1.2 million half to Point Given by super sire Storm Cat. The chestnut has been in steady training since April, begging the question: Why didn't we see him at Saratoga?

Frankel has a fast-working colt for the Stronachs named City Wolf, but the one-hole is a tough spot for a first-starter.

Strictly Society, after two troubled starts, is super dangerous with Dominguez. Carlos Martin won only one race at Saratoga, but he guarantees me that he'll kick butt downstate.

Firster Unbridled Fury is the most expensive horse (300K) in the barn of Chad Brown, a Frankel protege.

Race Eight

Gozzip Girl, the most accomplished 3-year-old grass filly in the land, will be looking for her fifth straight grassy graded stakes win in the Garden City, a $300,000 event for her age and gender at nine furlongs. She'll get the trip with Desormeaux from the one-hole, a huge advantage in this two-turner.

Chad Brown has the filly to beat in the unbeaten Maram, the nose winner of the BC Juvenile Fillies Turf last Fall. She won her lone '09 start at the Spa, and worked :59 and change for this.

Shared Account, Keertana and Katara -- 1-2-3 in the Lake Placid on soft turf at Saratoga -- all rate a look. The ice-cold Coa replaces Lezcano (Maram) on Keertana.

Race Nine

If this $43,000, seven-furlong allowance for New York-breds stays on the grass, the main contenders are Joey's Chance and Onzain, who finished two lengths apart when second and sixth going a mile on the Spa turf. Tobruk, third that day, came back to win at double-digits.

Puregoodniss looks to be the main speed at a price.

If the race comes off, the three MTOs should dominate, notably Hot Minute from Dutrow/Dominguez.

Race Ten

After a horrid Spa meet, trainer Levine looks to get going here with firster Dinger in a six-furlong maiden-claimer for 3-and-up on the grass. Note that they paid $150,000 for this 4-year-old at Saratoga in '06, and debut him for $25,000.

Yes...it's a tough game.

The major players are Magnificent Max, third in both grass tries, and Peacefields, a Mott dropper.

Max is the ninth call for Dominguez.

MTO Cleric, a 77K purchase by Dogwood, will be a short price if the race comes off the lawn.

 And I'll have the Pick-4 for you, all four races, your best shot to win $350,000. Get with me right here online.  Good luck this weekend. See you back here next week.



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