Three Longshots to Consider on Saturday’s Belmont Stakes Card

Kanthaka, shown winning in 2018, makes his first start of 2020 after a 12 ½-month layoff and for new trainer Graham Motion in Saturday’s Jaipur Stakes Presented by America’s Best Racing. (Eclipse Sportswire)

Big-race days are often great spots to find value with deep fields filled with talented runners.

While quite a few of the graded stakes on Saturday’s Belmont Stakes Presented by NYRA Bets card came up light on volume of entrants, there are a several spots on a fun Belmont Park race card where I found horses that I think can outrun their morning-line odds.

weekend Television schedule

Saturday, June 20: 9 a.m.-12 p.m. on NBC; 11:30 a.m.-2 p.m. ET on FS1; 2-3 p.m. ET on FS2; 2:45-6 p.m. ET, Belmont Stakes on NBC; 6-7 p.m. ET on FS2; 6-8 p.m. ET on NBCSN; post time varies on TVG

Sunday, June 21: 1-2:30 p.m. ET on FS2; 2:30-6 p.m. ET on FS1; 4-7 p.m. ET on NBCSN; post time varies on TVG

Race 1, 11:45 a.m. ET

#6 Faze (20-1): His debut Dec. 30, 2019, was uninspiring to say the least as he was distanced (beaten by 79 ¾ lengths in this case) and the chart simply says: “3w, galloped around.” But that race came on a sloppy track and career debuts often are treated simply as learning experiences. He drops from a maiden special weight race into a maiden-claiming race and makes the switch from dirt to turf, which could be a big key for a gelding by strong turf sire Arch out of a Grade 2-placed stakes winner on grass. Trainer Robert Ribaudo has an ROI of $3.05 making this surface change. He also switches to jockey Reylu Gutierrez who has done well with Ribaudo – $4.47 ROI with three starters and 21% overall win percentage in 2019-’20. Faze also turned in a nice bullet workout on the synthetic surface at Fair Hill Training Center on June 5 and Ribaudo is very good (23%) off a 61-180 day layoff. I’m giving Faze a pass for his debut and taking a shot he’ll improve here with multiple factors in his favor. Sure, there is much to look past with Faze, but that’s why he’s 20-1 and I believe he will outrun those odds.

Race 8, Longines Acorn Stakes, 4:15 p.m. ET

#6 Pleasant Orb (20-1): This is a huge step up in class, no doubt, but that’s why you are looking at the huge price on the morning line. She’s in good form and has three starts this season, including a third to the talented Tonalist’s Shape in the Hollywood Wildcat Stakes May 15. She will need to take a fairly significant step forward, but there are no world-beaters in here. The top two choices on the morning line are fillies with two wins in as many starts both making their stakes debut. Trainer Barclay Tagg and jockey Manny Franco are a potent tandem at Belmont Park, and I think this filly out of 2005 Breeders’ Cup Distaff winner Pleasant Home will get an ideal stalking trip and have a big shot at the top of the stretch.

Race 9, Jaipur Stakes Presented by America’s Best Racing, 4:53 p.m. ET

#1 Kanthaka (10-1): On paper, Kanthaka’s first try on grass was not eye-catching, but I think it was a sneaky-good race as he finished third behind top West Coast sprinter Eddie Haskell. He makes his first start for new trainer Graham Motion here off a long layoff of more than 12 ½ months, and he’s been gelded since his last race. But I’m encouraged that Motion, wins at 25% off a layoff of 180 days or longer with a very strong $3.58 return on investment, kept him on the turf and felt optimistic enough to start him in a Grade 1 race of this quality in his return. Motion and jockey Jose Ortiz also have been a potent combo, winning at a 24% clip over the last two years. I expect him to get a nice stalking trip behind the early speed with a chance to get the jump on the deep closers. This isn’t the best group we’ve seen for the Jaipur compared with recent years, and Kanthaka could surprise at a very nice price.

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