Friday is the start of arguably the best and biggest weekend in horse racing, the Breeders’ Cup Championships. Horse racing’s equivalent of the World Series, Stanley Cup Finals or Super Bowl. In addition to the Breeders’ Cup, it is closing weekend at Belmont Park and one of my favorite stakes races of the year is the Friday feature at Belmont, the Grade III 200k Turnback the Alarm Handicap.
The race is a favorite of mine for a few reasons, first the name and timing is perfect. The race is traditionally run on this weekend, right before daylight savings time ends (on Sunday). The race is actually named for the champion filly Turnback the Alarm, who won five Grade I races at NYRA in the early 1990s. The other reason I like this stake so much is it seemingly changes every year. One year it’s raced at Belmont, the next at Aqueduct; when run at Belmont it is a mile and 16th around one turn, at Aqueduct it’s a mile and 8th around two turns. Now that we have turned back time, let’s go forward in handicapping this year’s edition of the Turnback the Alarm Handicap!
Belmont Park Race 8 – 8.5 Furlongs (1 & 1/16ths Miles) Post Time – 5:08pm (Eastern)
Advance Weather: Sunny, 60s
This is a crazy race to try and figure out to say the least. The first thing I do when looking at a race is to find who is going to be the speed, well this race has almost no speed at all. If I had to guess, #3 DELIGHTFUL JOY (5/2) or #4 HOLIDAY’S JEWEL (20-1) will set the pace which will most likely be fairly soft. Combine that with horses that like to close, it is going to make it difficult to close into the potential slow fractions.
DELIGHTFUL JOY will be my top pick in the race. She has won two in a row and even though she is coming off a bit of a layoff, Chad Brown has strong numbers in this kind of a layoff (wins at 30%). She has the speed to put herself in the game and may even be on the lead but she can’t afford to hit the snooze button and let HOLIDAY’S JEWEL get too comfortable on the lead. If she sets the pace, she may take them all the way around.
The other horse that interests me in this field is #8 PANGBURN (5-1). Her recent workouts have been outstanding (four straight bullet workouts) and any horse that is trained by Anthony Dutrow warrants consideration. He always spots his horses real well and has solid stats across the board in this position.
Horses to fill out my exotics will be #5 CALL PAT (4-1) and #7 STIFFED (12-1).CALL PAT returns to a level where she can compete and if STIFFED can get out of the gate cleanly, she has potential to not stiff the betting public.