Saturday's Stateside preview comes from Belmont and Gulfstream. Both venues host stakes races. The one in New York, The Elusive City is not graded but it is likely to be won by a graded stakes performer. The market will be headed by the comebacking pair of Calgary Cat and Disco Partner. The former ran well in The Grade 1 Breeders' Cup Turf Sprint at Santa Anita when last seen out.
Gulfstream Park hosts a pair of stakes. The Miami Mile (Grade 3) will have a short priced favourite in All Included. The Powder Break, a stake for fillies and mares has a more open look to it. Christopher Clement's Stormy Victoria looks the one to beat but could be vulnerable on her 2017 debut.
PAUL'S ANALYSIS FROM Belmont Park and Gulfstream Park
Saturday 29 April 2017
Belmont Park Race 2 (7.01pm) Allowance (entry level) - New York bred 3 year olds and upwards - 6 Furlongs - Turf
Shiraz (4) is likely to head the market after a fine third in a stake at Gulfstream at the start of the month. That came over a mile. He did break his maiden over course and distance but is likely to need pace to chase down to be seen at his best over this trip. For a sprint, there is not a lot of early speed in this event. That makes the comebacking Animal Posse (1) an intriguing proposition here. He is likely to be forwardly placed without being hard used. The twice raced five year old lacks a race since last June but did break his maiden on debut. He then followed that up with a fine runner up at today's level.
Like the rail drawn runner, New York's Finest (8) is lightly raced and is likely to have improvement to come. He has been absent since September. Fear (2) and Astrologist (5) have been in action in Florida this year. The former is a seven time career winner who has placed form at this level. The Godolphin owned Astrologist made a fine return after a long absence. His future probably lies over further but he could be a late player.
Animal Posse (1)
Gulfstream Park Race 5 (8.25pm) The Miami Mile (Grade 3) - 3 year olds and upwards - 1 Mile - Turf
All Included (5) is the horse to beat here. He ended a losing run going back to July 2015 when winning a Grade 3 locally earlier this month. Our Way (4) was a length and a half in arrears with Diamond Bachelor (1) fading to finish sixth. Javier Castellano who could have been at Churchill or Belmont is in town to renew the partnership.
All Included had run well in decent company before his latest victory. In February, he ran a length third in a Grade 1 at Gulfstream. A neck behind him that day was War Correspondent (2). He is a seven year old who had had only five starts since winning a Grade 3 in March 2015. He has been freshened up and has been working forwardly. He's swapped decisions with veteran and barn mate Lubash (3) in the past. His star looked to be waning in New York state bred races last summer. A fine effort in a Grade 3 in his last start in November suggests he's not ready for retirement just yet.
This stake lacks a natural frontrunner. That makes Diamond Bachelor (1) and interesting price chance. He faded, finishing almost five lengths behind winner All Included (5) last time. That was stalking decent fractions. Jockey Nicky Figueroa shouldn't be pressed setting much slower splits. His form at the end of last year when doing so is not far off the best of these.
Diamond Bachelor (1)
Belmont Park Race 5 (8.36pm) Allowance (entry level) - 3 year olds and upwards - 1 1/16 Miles - Dirt
This is one turn event. The class dropping Admiral Blue (6) runs as if this configuration will suit but it's no gimme. He had Nigel's Destiny (3) behind him when a fine runner up at this level in January. The four year old has been in a tad deep over arguably too far in a couple of subsequent starts.
Admiral Blue's form is on a par with Hard Study (2). He won a starter allowance event in February and ran a fine second in a stake on his return earlier this month. Hard Study could never land a blow behind all the way winner River Date (4) in December. That pacey gelding has run with credit but not up to that level since. He meets staying types here and is unlikely to be challenged early on. If that is the case, a wire to wire upset victory is a possibility.
Fearless Dragon (5) and Nigel's Destiny (3) filled the places in a similar event over one turn at Aqueduct earlier this month.
River Date (4)
Belmont Park Race 6 (9.09pm) Allowance (entry level) - 3 year olds and upwards - 1 1/16 Miles - Turf
The lone three year old in here Snap Decision (8) may go off as the favourite. He drops in class after a fine third to the talented Ticonderoga in a Grade 3 at Gulfstream last month. The effort didn't come out of the blue as he was progressing rapidly with experience. He did get a hot pace to chase down and may be parked behind much softer fractions here.
Snap Decision loses his rider to Know Your Customer (2) but that's likely more to do with Jose Ortiz riding for Chad Brown. He ran poorly on his return. That was on dirt. He may wake up now getting back on the turf. His barn mate Tricked Up (6) has more obvious claims. He's ran with credit in a trio of starts at this level since a maiden breaker at Saratoga last summer. He may have gone close at Gulfstream last time but for being held up in traffic. Brown runs him in blinkers first time today.
Conquest Sandman (1) and Flying Bullet (7) have swapped decisions in back to back starts in Florida. Both have claims here. The former's chances improve no end if the comebacking Spin Cycle (5) is taken back and he makes the lead on his own. Spin Cycle got very good last summer and is proven fresh. His fellow New York bred Runaway Posse (4) has the back form to win this and excels on the turf at Belmont.
Tricked Up (6)
Gulfstream Park Race 7 (9.30pm) Allowance Optional Claiming - Fillies and Mares - 3 year olds and upwards - 1 Mile - Dirt
There is not a lot of difference between the best form of a few of these. Crowning Affair (3) gets the vote in the hope she has improvement to come. She has been freshened up since running third at this level in February. That was over seven furlongs and she runs as if she's worth another try over another furlong. She plots to get a nice stalking trip off what could be lively early fractions.
Eva London (2) ran a career best by far when a clear cut wire to wire maiden breaker last month. She may have company on the front end from the likes of Indian Chaser (4) if her rider employs the same tactics. That Tampa shipper won back to back claimers before a fading third at this level over two turns.
The late-running Amaluna (5) did well to reel in old rival Untrue (8) in a starter optional claimer earlier this month. The runner up did run better when winning another four weeks earlier. Money Or Love (1) was beaten four lengths in that event. She ran big when winning a starter allowance event over six furlongs since.
Crowning Affair (3)
Belmont Park Race 8 (10.13pm) The Elusive City - A stake for 4 year olds and upwards - 7 Furlongs - Turf
Calgary Cat (8) gets significant class relief for his 2017 return. He rounded out last year with a Grade 2 victory at Woodbine and a fine fourth in The Grade 1 Breeders' Cup Turf Sprint at Santa Anita. He did need his first run back last spring but has been working super in the mornings. He was beaten less than a length by another comebacker Disco Partner (5) in a stake at Saratoga last summer. He is proven fresh, winning on his return last May. His new trainer Christophe Clement has him going well in the mornings.
The pair that are likely to head the market could be vulnerable to runners with a recency edge. The sharp Never Gone South (4) is one possibility. He has to prove himself on dirt however. That's not the case with Siding Spring (3). He set the pace and faded late in a decent Grade 3 over a mile earlier this month. He looks the type who may benefit from a cut back in distance and trying one turn. The four year old has looked an improved performer since turning four. He last three races have been the best of his career.
Talented New York bred Kharafa (1) looks to be prepping for longer races. That was the case when fifth in this race last year. Hammers Vision (9) ran second in a stake at Gulfstream on his reappearance. That came on dirt but is very capable on turf too.
The former Charles O'Brien trained Great Wide Open (7) blew the start in a stake on his US debut. He has a bit to find off his Irish form but was progressive last year.
Siding Spring (3)
Belmont Park Race 9 (10.45pm) Claiming $25,000 - 3 year olds and upwards - 6 Furlongs - Turf
Very little gets passed the savvy New York betting public. Maybe the fact there is a potent new kid on the block will do - at least in the opening days of this meet. Too Fast to Pass (4) is trained by Robertino Diodoro. Stateside regulars will know he's owned Turf Paradise in recent years. He's not just a king at the bush tracks. He's had stakes success in top jurisdiction like California and Oaklawn Park. He is trying New York for the first time and may be able to work his equine miracles in The Big Apple. He claimed Too Fast to Pass off a third at Santa Anita. He's competitively spotted here.
Too Fast to Pass will have to be on his game as this is a deep and talented field for the level he is facing. Power Nap (2) drops sharply in class and gets back on the dirt. Special Selection (11) is back with Bruce Brown and back on the track where he's ran some of his best races. Aktabantay (12) was claimed last time by a trainer who excels with first time acquisitions. Chamois (1) cut back in distance after a fine third at this level over a mile.
Too Fast to Pass (4)
Gulfstream Park Race 10 (11.06pm) The Powder Break - A stake for fillies and mares - 3 year olds and upwards - 1 Mile - Turf
Stormy Victoria (6) rounded out 2016 with fine efforts in a defeat in a trio of graded stakes. She is just about the pick on form but lacks a race since November. The good news for her chances here is winning first time back last year as well as a drop in class. She and the rest will have to catch last year's winner Cali Thirty Seven (4). She made all that day. The same tactics didn't pay off on her comeback in February, fading badly. That was a Grade 3 and she was forced to go faster than ideal. If her rider gets the same easy lead as in the 2016 renewal, she may take some catching.
Trainer Marty Wolfson has a trio entered here. Lori's Store (1) has not been disgraced behind the same talented mare in stakes since she returned from a long absence. Cali Thirty Seven could have company on the lead. If that means a fast pace, she is likely to be a late player. Her barn mates Inside Out (11) and King's Ghost (12) have claims. The former is tried again in stakes company after winning under allowance conditions. King's Ghost won on her comeback making it three victories from her last four starts.
Temple Fur (5) drops in class but has a penalty to carry for a stakes success in February. Todd Pletcher's lightly raced filly Liberty Kitten (7) goes in the opposite direction class-wise. She defied a long lay off to win an entry level allowance event last month.
Elusive Million (10) outrun her odds in a Grade 3 in January. She ran below that form in an allowance event a month later and has been freshened up. Always Thinking (9) ran a career best in early March but still finished behind Lori's Store.
Lori's Store (1)
Reversed Exacta (2 bets): Lori's Store (1) and Stormy Victoria (6)