As we wait a few more days for the Breeder’s Cup Championships, this week we will turn our attention back to Belmont Park.
On Saturday afternoon, the New York Racing Association will present the running of the G3 Bold Ruler Handicap. A 7 furlong dirt test for 3yr olds and up, the race offers a $200,000 purse. The high weight in this handicap race, carrying 122 pounds, will be the defending 2016 Bold Ruler winner Stallwalkin’ Dude, while the low weight will be the lightly raced 3yr old Beasley, carrying 114 pounds.
Belmont Park’s dirt course has been running without a noticeable bias. 3 of the last 16 seven furlong affairs were won in wire to wire fashion. Only 6% of these winners came from the rail and 9% from posts farther out than the 8 post. It should be noted that the most recent 7 furlong race was won from far back by an outside post horse.
The pace of this race should be provided by 3-1 morning line favorite Seymourdini. Breaking from post #9, this Linda Rice trainee has not raced since July but in his last 2, he has posted the fastest recent early speed figures in this group. Seymourdini, with the services of jockey Jose Ortiz, will be making his second try against graded stakes company. His first graded stakes race was the G2 Woody Stephens where he finished a disappointing 7th.
Going out early with Seymourdini will be 30-1 longshot Green Gratto, who has developed the bad habit of stopping in the stretch, as well as Todd Pletcher trainee Mr. Crow, and 15-1 morning line Awesome Banner.
If Seymourdini is sharp, he should be able to relegate these others to stalker positions and enjoy a being loose on the lead. If he is not sharp, the pace of this race should back up considerably, almost eliminating any shot for far back closers.
Much of the rest of this field looks mediocre at best, with the exceptions of Stallwalkin’ Dude and Divining Rod. StallWalkin’ Dude took a step forward in his last, a G1 effort where he finished 3rd at 6f in the slop here at Belmont, but his recent pattern of not stringing two good efforts together will keep me off of him.
The horse I landed on is the #11, Divining Rod. Trained by Arnaud Delacour, this horse does not want to be on the lead, but has the speed to be just off of it.
Breaking from an outside post may present a challenge but with such a long run to Belmont’s sweeping turn, jockey Daniel Centeno should be able to find a spot and be ready for a stretch move. In his last, Divining Rod was forced 5 wide and covered too much extra ground, losing by 4 lengths to a rail running victor. He should also appreciate the cut back in distance from a mile to 7 furlongs. With a 7-2 morning line I will put my money on Divining Rod for the win.