With the Breeder’s Cup Championships right around the corner, there is a drought in graded stakes races. So this week we will turn our focus to something a little different. This Saturday Belmont Park will host the Iroquois Stakes, a $150,000 6-1/2 furlong event for New York bred fillies and mares. The race will be contested around Belmont’s sweeping 1-turn sprint dirt course and will feature a competitive field of 6.
There have been 24 recent 6-1/2 furlong dirt sprints at Belmont and 4 of them have been won in wire to wire fashion with an even distribution of winners across all post positions.
The pace of this race should be hotly contested by the 2 “need the lead” runners. 15-1 morning line longshot Royal Inheritance and the outside horse, Cozzy Spring should duke it out for inside position into the turn with rail running Picco Uno siting right behind them.
Back on August 17th at Saratoga, Picco Uno beat most of this same field with a quick break from post 8. She was able to run alongside one other horse at a reasonable pace and drew off by 2-1/2 lengths in the lane, holding off today’s 8-5 morning line favorite, Quezon, who suffered through an 8 wide stretch move.
While Picco Uno and Quezon look like a tough pair to beat, I will be looking to get better than the 2-1 and 8-5 respective morning lines in this field. In a race where the field seems to compete against each other every few weeks, the edge is in finding the ebbs and flows of the participants’ form cycles.
The horse I landed on is Wonderment. Breaking from post 5, Wonderment possesses the kind of stalking speed that never puts her on the lead but always has her in the thick of things throughout. Trained by Ken McPeek and ridden by Javier Castellano, Wonderment is coming off of a similar state bred stake at Finger Lake where she won by a nose as the $0.90-1 favorite.
While many would downgrade a horse who last ran on the NY junior circuit, this horse won another state bred stake here at Belmont two starts back and looks to be coming closer to the top of her game. Sandwiched between these races is the August 17th affair with today’s favorites where she finished 4th.
Wonderment took a step forward in terms of speed figures in her last and will have a positive jockey switch from the capable Dylan Davis to the superior Javier Castellano. I look for another step forward from this mare and will hope to get the 8-1 morning line price for the win.