FILE – In this June 9, 2018, file photo, horses break from the starting gate at the beginning of the 150th running of the Belmont Stakes horse race at Belmont Park in Elmont, N.Y. The Belmont Stakes will be run June 20, 2020, without fans and serve as the opening leg of horse racing’s Triple Crown for the first time in the sport’s history. The New York Racing Association on Tuesday, May 19, 2020, unveiled the rescheduled date for the Belmont, which will also be contested at a shorter distance than usual. This is the first time the Belmont will lead off the Triple Crown ahead of the Kentucky Derby and Preakness. (AP Photo/Julie Jacobson, File)
- Friday’s New York Stakes is the Empire State’s version of the Kentucky Oaks
- Harvey’s Lil Goil and Mean Mary highlight a very deep field with lots of good options
- Where is value present in the New York Stakes, and in the other three graded events on Friday?
Horse racing gets a lot of things wrong. From different rules at different tracks, to constant rumors and innuendo about tactics trainers use, there are always questions present.
This Friday and Saturday New York goes all out. Friday there are four graded stakes in the Big Apple highlighted by the New York Stakes, while Saturday’s Belmont card is bonkers.
Let’s look carefully at the New York Stakes, and review Friday’s other graded stakes action with an eye towards betting value.
2021 New York Stakes Odds
|Harvey’s Lil Goil||+300|
|My Sister Nat||+1500|
Odds as of June 3
The mile-and-a-quarter New York Stakes on the grass is scheduled to begin at 4:42 pm EST Friday. Fox Sports 2 has television coverage. The purse is $750,000.
Run since 1940, the New York Stakes has shifted distances over the years. It has been run at as short as seven furlongs, as long as two-and-a-quarter miles, and been contested on both dirt and turf. The current setup has been in place since 1980
Trainer Christophe Clement has won the race a record four times. Chad Brown has captured the New York Stakes in three of the last five runnings. Jockey Irad Ortiz is seeking a record tying fourth win in the New York.
Harvey’s Lil Goil has five wins in 10 starts including a Grade 1 triumph last fall. She made her 2021 debut a winning one at Belmont Park a month ago.
At +2000 Harvey’s Lil Goil ran third in last year’s Breeders Cup Filly & Mare Turf. Mean Mary, who was +350, ran seventh. Mean Mary has six wins in 10 career starts and was super impressive in her first race of the year, just three weeks ago on the Preakness undercard.
As a +120 favorite, Mean Mary beat five rivals in last year’s New York Stakes.
British bred Magic Attitude has run four races in America since moving from Europe. His two race at Belmont Park have both been impressive victories.
Harvey’s Lil Goil beat Magic Attitude at Keeneland in October, but that race was run at a-mile-and-an-eighth.
Thundering Nights is making her US debut. She has been facing strong competition in Europe, and won a Grade 3 event last summer.
She was the runner up in a Grade 3 event in April, and gets Hall of Fame jockey John Velazquez on Friday.
Civil Union finished last year with an uneven fifth place finish in the Breeders Cup, and began 2021 with a disappointing fifth against Harvey’s Lil Goil at Belmont. That said, she encountered trouble in the Cup, and the race in May was probably too short. She won four straight starting right around this time of year last year, and three were at Belmont Park.
Civil Union has five wins in 10 career starts.
Brown has two entries in the New York, Virginia Joy and My Sister Nat. Virginia Joy won her US debut in an allowance race at Belmont after starting her career in Germany and is being ridden by Ortiz. My Sister Nat was second in the New York Stakes last year and won the Waya Stakes at Saratoga. That said, her 2021 debut was a mediocre fourth behind Magic Attitude on May 1.
Magic Attitude also beat Mutamakina in the Sheepshead Bay Stakes. Mutamakina ran second after winning the Long Island Stakes at Aqueduct in November. She is trained by Clement, who also sends out extreme longshot Traipsing.
New York Stakes Best Bet
Mean Mary really didn’t have to work that hard to win three weeks ago and aside from the Breeders Cup always runs well. She is comfortable in New York, and while this is a pretty wide open race, the price is attractive on a horse who hasn’t been this big a number since winning as a maiden in 2019.
Pick: Mean Mary (+450)
2021 Belmont Stakes Odds Tracker
Friday’s Other Graded Stakes Races
In addition to the New York Stakes, Friday features three other high end races for handicappers to ponder. The True North Stakes (3:18 pm EST) is a dirt sprint with a small but very competitive field. Chub Wagon puts her unbeaten mark on the line in the seven furlong Bed O’ Roses Stakes (3:58 pm). European invader Baron Samedi will be the favorite in the two mile on turf Belmont Gold Cup (5:38 pm). Let’s look at the trio of races and see where betting value is present.
True North Stakes
If the track is dry defending champion Firenze Fire will be dangerous. A winner of six out of nine at Belmont, he is coming off an impressive victory in his seasonal debut.
A four time participant in the Breeders Cup, Firenze Fire has gotten older with age. He has won four graded stakes races since the start of 2020.
Flagstaff ran his first 15 races in California, winning five of them. During the pandemic he took the show on the road. While his first two races he ran pretty well but didn’t win, his last two efforts have been sparkling victories. On Derby Day he beat Whitmore among others in the Churchill Downs Stakes.
Looking At Bikinis held off American Power and Wicked Trick in a testy allowance race at Belmont in late April. American Power is the only one of the trio to win a graded stakes. Wicked Trick has been running competitively against good horses.
Bed O’Roses Stakes
Not only has Chub Wagon never lost, she has never really been tested. After a perfect start to her career, the Pennsylvania bred tries graded stakes company for the first time. Her last race, on Preakness Day at Pimlico, was impressive.
Victim of Love is probably the toughest foe Chub Wagon has ever faced. She is coming off a victory in the Grade 3 Vagrancy Handicap at Belmont, winning the event for a second straight year. Last year she finished third behind two top notch horses in Saratoga’s Ballerina Stakes.
Estilo Talentoso is coming off of her two best career races. She was third behind Gamine in the Derby City Distaff in May at Churchill Downs, after finishing second in the Grade 1 Madison Stakes at Keeneland at the start of April.
Pick: Estilo Talentoso
Belmont Gold Cup Stakes
Each of the last three years a European horse has come to America and won the Belmont Gold Cup. There just aren’t many horses here who run races regularly over a-mile-and-a-half. However, while several Euros have entered in recent years, only Baron Samedi is coming in 2021.
A winner of six out of 11 career races, Baron Samedi has won a half dozen consecutively.
With a victory over Irish Derby winner Santiago, if Baron Samedi likes Belmont, he seemingly will stand a big chance.
Trainer Mike Maker won the Gold Cup in 2016, and sends out three horses this year. Tide of the Sea is likely to have the lead and if the pace is slow enough could go wire-to-wire. Ajourneytofreedom should be coming hard down the stretch. Conviction Trade has just one win in the last two years, but it came at Belmont. Two of his three career victories have come here.
Ziyad has hit the board in two of three races since coming to America. He was running inconsistently against strong competition in Europe before heading over the pond.
Pick: Baron Samedi