ELMONT, N.Y. - It was just a few weeks ago that Wednesday's card at Belmont Park - the first following the Belmont Stakes - was in jeopardy of being canceled. Thanks to a $25 million loan from the state to the New York Racing Association, the show will go on for the foreseeable future.
And thanks to upset victories by Champagne d'Oro in the Acorn, Winchester in the Manhattan, and Drosselmeyer in the Belmont Stakes, there is a pick six carryover of $930,495, making Wednesday's card arguably the second most anticipated program of the summer meet.
There is the potential for $3 million to be in the pool come 2:36 p.m. Eastern when the sequence begins with a maiden claimer on the turf. Fast and firm conditions are likely throughout, though showers are forecast for late in the day:
Here's a look at the sequence:
Fourth race: Since the Bill Mott-trained Drosselmeyer created this carryover, perhaps the Mott-trained Macho Joe can start off the sequence with a win in this $25,000 claimer. A three-time beaten favorite on dirt in special weight company, Macho Joe tries turf while dropping in for a tag for the first time. Montana Knight takes another class drop after finishing fourth for $65,000. His best race came on firm ground to a next-out winner two back. Trainer Linda Rice said Miss Hanky Panky showed a fondness for the turf when beaten two lengths at this level over yielding ground on May 15. Rice said she believes Miss Hanky Panky will improve on firm ground.
Fifth race: Can't argue with those opting to single Under the Rainbow, who in her first start off a five-month layoff dueled inside of stablemate and race winner Amiga Del Sol -- with Cornelio Velasquez giving an indecisive ride. Under the Rainbow moves from an inside post to outside, and will likely be on the lead or stalking Mariah Scary. Larger tickets will likely add Vicarious and Every Little Thing, who come out of the Under the Rainbow race. Laylayben's last race looks better than it was because Big Brownie, the winner, drifted out badly in stretch. Laylayben may be the one to try and beat.
Sixth race: This race for $35,000 maiden claimers going six furlongs on turf is rife with peril. Ponte Vecchio is a must-use dropping in for a tag for first time and with the switch to Ramon Dominguez. His effort two back when going a mile on turf would win this. Trainer George Weaver expressed confidence that the horse's best races were at six furlongs or on firm turf and "this looks like the best of both worlds," he said.
In his first start with blinkers, Hooligan's Delight showed improvement when second last time out.
Mike Hushion is giving one more shot to Tudor King, who trained well on turf during the winter in Florida, but has yet to run well on it. He is adding blinkers and dropping in class in this spot.
Seventh race: Might have to go five deep in this New York-bred maiden turf affair. Tapitdar was a bit keen, then got shuffled back when third as the favorite going a mile at Aqueduct on April 16. He had a wide trip when fourth here last month.
Adirondack Warrior shows two good efforts on turf. Ready for Ryan gets Lasix and blinkers and shows a bullet work for trainer Jimmy Jerkens after a troubled debut.
John Wyatt makes his first start of the year and first start for trainer Robert Barbara, who has a 19-percent strike rate with new acquisitions. Barbara, owner Jack Dorian, and jockey Jose Lezcano - the connections behind John Wyatt - teamed to win with Vose the Host, a 3-year-old half-brother to this colt, at first asking earlier in the meet at 13-1.
Linda Rice has Ramon Dominguez to ride firster City Whisper, whom Rice believes has talent. Her one concern is the mile at first asking.
Eighth race: Hard to trust any of the five signed up for this third-level optional $75,000 claimer going 6 1/2 furlongs. Two years ago, Starforaday came off a lengthy layoff to win a second-level allowance here by nearly two lengths. He has been facing tougher, shows a bullet work, and should get pace for this.
It's hard to leave out anything Rudy Rodriguez sends out, which is why West Coast Flier is a must-use. He is 3 for 4 at this distance.
Ninth race: Feel free to use as many as you can afford in this puzzler. Will Phipps is 2 for 5 in his career with horses returning from layoffs of 260 days or more. Night Spirit is making her first start in 269 days, first for Phipps, and first in a claimer against a dreadful field. Z Cats Meow and Casa Di Vino ran one-two in a sprint over this course last September. Pea Stone had trouble when fifth as the favorite on May 23 .