We are less than one week from the last leg of the Triple Crown, the Belmont Stakes. It's amazing how fast this Triple Crown season has passed. After watching qualifying race after race for months, it felt like the Kentucky Derby would never come. Now, MEDINA SPIRIT's win and positive test are old, nearly forgotten news.
In the spirit of what's to come, let's start the process of sharpening our Belmont Park handicapping skills with the Paradise Creek Stakes in Sunday's eighth race. A field of seven will run 7 furlongs on the Widener Turf course. Meet to date, five of the 11 winners at the distance lead from gate to wire and seven overall were considered early speed types.
Let's see who has the early wheels.
BEREN (PP: 1 ML 8-1) has some giddy up and go from the gate. He's been first or second at the quarter-mile marker in five oh eight career starts. He's run 7 furlongs twice with opening quarters of 23.3 and 22.3 seconds, from the most recent back. Those were on dirt and today is turf, expect BEREN to be a touch slower on the new surface.
FAUCI (PP: 2 ML 4-1) has been more of a stalker in his last two race as he's moved up the competition scale. In his only race past 5 ½ furlongs, his opening quarter at 6 ½ furlongs on a soft turf course was in the neighborhood off 22 seconds. He's a sneaky potential early leader.
OUTADORE (PP: 3 ML 8/5) gets going in a hurry. He's been if the first two at the quarter pole in four of five outings. In the same 6 ½ furlong race, he was a step ahead of FAUCI at the first call and most likely be the first of the two again.
THIN WHITE DUKE (PP: 4 ML 20-1) is probably not a threat to be the leader based on recent dirt form. However, he was forwardly placed in his two grass goes and could pop out an opening quarter in 22 and low change.
THREE TWO ZONE (PP: 5 ML 15-1) is yet to run on turf. In his lone off trach dirt run, rated good, he was second after a quarter mile in about 22.3 seconds. If his wet dirt run is an indication, he could try to add to the early pace, but doubtful.
CHASING ARTIE (PP: 6 ML 9/5) flashed speed at the maiden level but was slow out of the gate in his last, a non-graded stakes for $100 grand. Despite hopping at the jump, he rallied six-wide to overtake FAUCI in the stretch.
SECOND OF JULY (PP: 7 ML 8-1) hasn't busted out of the gate like he was in a hurry in any of his three starts.
EARLY PACE SETUP:
OUTADORE gets to the front with THREE TWO ZONE with FAUCI and CHASING ARTIE tucked in behind the leaders.
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