The New York Racing Association ended it summer sojourn to Saratoga this week and Saturday marks the return to Belmont Park for what is traditionally some of the best racing in the country. For those of you looking for some Breeders' Cup thoughts, you might want to check out that New York simulcast signal over the next several weeks, as the good ones will be running often. The Opening Day feature is the Grade 2 $150,000 Bowling Green Handicap with what was supposed to be a field of eleven. However, Grand Couturier's connections are opting to find a softer spot (literally, they want to run on soggy turf and the weather forecast indicates that the Northern Dancer at Woodbine on September 19 is the place for them). That means we have a field of ten to take a look at, so here is the analysis for the Grade 2 Bowling Green:
My top choice in here will be #3 Al Khali, who ran 3rd behind Telling and Bearpath in the very competitive Grade 1 Sword Dancer at Saratoga on August 14. Just as telling for Al Khali is the apparent versatility this horse has. Looking at his past performances, he can rate or he can go to the lead and be dangerous doing either one. Plus, he gets Julien Leparoux in the saddle and not many have been as hot of late. I am going to use the chalk second with #5 Winchester. First of all, I have said it before and I will say it again: CLEMENT ON THE GRASS!!! The last time that Winchester ran over the Belmont greenery, he was a winner in the Grade 1 Manhattan on Belmont Stakes Day at odds of 21-1. He followed that up with a third in the Grade 1 United Nations at Monmouth. The longshot to like in this race appears to be #10 Followmyfootsteps. While he has never run at this level before, he acquitted himself nicely at The Spa with a win and a third in two tries and his turf Tomlinson number is among the best in the field. I like him here at 15-1 on the morning line. Finally, I will use #1 Simmard to wrap up the top four. If Leparoux isn't the hottest rider around, it might just be John Velazquez. The big knock on this runner is that he has been away from the race since January. However, he did throw a bullet workout on the board at Woodbine on September 8, covering five furlongs in 59.3 seconds. Here is the play for the Grade 2 $150,000 Bowling Green Handicap:
$5 WP #4
$1 EX BOX 1-3-4-5-10
$1 TRI 3-5 with 3-5 with 1-4-10
Remember, They Are Off accepts no responsibility for any wagers placed in conjunction with these selections. They are merely suggestions. Tune in next week for more from They Are Off. For right now, I am Gone... GOODBYE!