By MARK HOFFMAN
For the Recorder
Today is NYRA's Super Saturday, six graded stakes worth $3.4 million making up races No. 5 through 10 at Belmont Park. We have sprinters, milers, distaff runners, older handicap foes and two route races on the weeds. These races will play an important role leading up to this year's Breeders' Cup at Santa Anita Park on Nov. 2 and 3. Today's card might be this biggest of the year at any NYRA racetrack.
We start in Race 5, the Beldame Invitational Handicap for fillies and mares going 1 1/8 miles. It's a rematch between Royal Delta and It's Tricky from the Personal Ensign Stakes at Saratoga, when both horses were defeated by Love and Pride. It comes down between the two favorites once again and I'm leaning toward Royal Delta slightly over It's Tricky. Go Unbridled and Cash for Clunkers are my exotic and multi-race plays. Numbers for the Race 5: 3/6 with 1/4/2.
The Kelso Stakes is a one-turn mile on the dirt (formerly contested on grass). Horses in this race will mostly likely be pointed for the Breeders' Cup Mile or possibly the Classic. Again, it comes down between the two favorites in the race; To Honor and Serve and Shackleford. My slight edge goes to To Honor and Serve coming off his Woodward Stakes victory. Shackleford will hopefully rebound off his dull effort in Alfred G. Vanderbilt going six furlongs in the mud at Saratoga. Horses to use underneath are Jersey Town and Tapizar. Numbers for Race 6: 5/6 with 3/4/8.
Sprinters go next in he Vosburgh Invitational at six furlongs. In this wide open event, my top selection returns off a slight layoff and turns back in distance. The Lumber Guy was last seen in early May prepping for the Belmont Stakes in the Peter Pan Stakes here going 1 1/8 miles. Today he returns to the races, turns back in distance and faces older foes for the first time. For second, Sean Avery is as consistent a sprinter as they come; even though he's had racing gaps throughout his career. Underneath these two runners, I'll be using Royal Currier and Caixa Electronia. Numbers for Race 7: 5/4 with 8/9/10.
The first of two stakes races on the grass is for the ladies in the Flower Bowl Invitational, going 1 1/4 miles on the inner turf course. I'm going with a runner that has some European flavor and a recent winner here stateside. I'm a Dreamer shipped in to Arlington Park and won the Beverly D. Handicap last time out and the handles soft or yielding turf that's expected today. Zagora is my second selection and is a hard hitting mare that should have no problem with this marathon distance. Exotic and multi-race runners to include are Hit It Rich and Hessonite. Numbers for Race 8: 4/7 with 3/2/1.
Then, it's the boys turn on the weeds going 1 1/2 miles in the Joe Hirsch Turf Classic Invitational. The Shug McGaughey runner Point of Entry is my top pick and best bet in today's six stakes races. Winner of four straight races -- three stakes -- he loves these marathon distances and the only question here is whether he'll take to the off turf. For second is the speed of the race, Little Mike. Last time out in the Arlington Million, he won for the first time at a distance of longer than nine furlongs -- today he tries 1 1/2 miles. A longshot to use with my two top picks is Finnegan's Wake. Numbers for Race 9 : 2/4 with 6.
The main event of today's card is the Jockey Club Gold Cup at 1 1/4 miles on the dirt in a prep for the Breeders' Cup Classic. My top selection goes from the rail and gets the distance he won at in the Santa Anita Handicap. Ron the Greek came from far back in the Whitney Handicap to gain second, today he goes longer and tries to win off a second-place finish, which is a pattern he has done three times before in his career. For second, Fast Falcon has been rallying in three out of his last four races, including a fast closing third at 32-1 in the Travers. Maybe today, he'll get victory for the cold Nick Zito barn. Underneath my top two picks will be Hymn Book and Atigun. The numbers for Race 10: 1/7 with 4/6/5.