by Dick Powell
The Knickerbocker Stakes (G2) will be run as the 3RD race at Belmont Park on Monday for three-year-olds and up going nine furlongs on the inner turf course. Seven are entered, with one being a main track-only entrant.
Revved Up (#1) (10-1) used to be in the Shug McGaughey barn until his last out when he switched to the red-hot Jorge Abreu. He was outrun in the Sword Dancer Stakes (G1) going three turns at Saratoga where the speed never came back. Abreu adds blinkers for the first time and Javier Castellano picks up the mount. A dangerous trainer/rider combination on the turf but is he good enough?
Night Prowler (#2) (8-1) is a horse-for-the-course who was claimed for $62,500 two starts back by Dermot Magner. He came back here with a good second against high-class allowance foes going a bit shorter on yielding turf at Saratoga. The young trainer gets Johnny Velazquez back aboard – 20 percent with his turf mounts this year.
Aquaphobia (#3) (6-1) spent the winter out at Santa Anita Park for Robert Falcone Jr. and won two races in three starts out there. He was second going two turns on yielding turf at Saratoga against allowance foes, then won at Kentucky Downs when he came from off the pace. There is an extraordinary number of offspring of Giant’s Causeway who win graded races at the age of five and this one fits the bill.
Blacktype (#4) (4-1) has won six times over the inner turf at Belmont, including this race last year. He won most recently over the course going gate-to-wire, and his speed will be enhanced with the rail down on the inner turf course. Joel Rosario rides back and he is good at either going to the front or coming from dead last so he fits this speedball perfectly. Trainer Christophe Clement had a quiet Saratoga and the Belmont Fall meet hasn’t been much better, but he has won this race an amazing six times.
Secret Passage (#5) (5-2) is a main track-only entrant who was a huge winner on a sloppy, sealed track at Belmont three starts back when he came from way back to get up in time. The weather forecast doesn’t look good for his participation, though.
Inspector Lynley (#6) (2-1) just missed in the Wise Dan Stakes (G2) at Churchill Downs back in June, then he won a restricted stakes at Saratoga going two turns. He was only beaten there by two lengths in the Bernard Baruch Handicap (G2) last out but has never won at Belmont on the turf in six starts. Jose Ortiz rides back and he will have to get the son of Lemon Drop Kid rolling on the far turn. He runs his best on firm going.
Hi Happy (#7) (7-5) won the Man o’ War Stakes (G1) on this turf course going 11 furlongs back in May in his third start for new trainer Todd Pletcher. His form has tailed off lately but his last race came going 12 furlongs and he now turns back to 1 1/8 miles for Pletcher and jockey Luis Saez. On his best day, Hi Happy is a pace factor and the six-year-old has only had 16 career starts, racking up eight wins and over $1.26 million in lifetime earnings.
If the turf stays either good or firm, Blacktype will be very hard to beat in here. I will use him in an exacta over Night Prowler and Hi Happy.