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Wedding Toast, Curalina Outclass Beldame Rivals

Wedding Toast, Curalina Outclass Beldame Rivals: Gamblers preferring vertical wagers might find the Beldame Invitational (GI) disappointing. Only six horses enter the gate on Saturday for the nine furlong event at Belmont Park. The two expected favorites, Wedding Toast and Curalina, hold the best chance. One contender, House Rules, may pull off an upset with a pace meltdown. The leftover three horses would be a mild surprise.

Wedding Toast Beldame 2015

Wedding Toast, pictured above with Jose Lezcano, is owned by Godolphin Stables and conditioned by Kiaran McLaughlin. The mare comes into the Beldame with a two-race win streak. Photo: Joe Labozzetta, Coglianese/NYRA

Wedding Toast, owned by Godolphin Stables and conditioned by Kiaran McLaughlin, comes into the Beldame with a two-race win streak. She won the Ogden Phipps (GI) and Ruffian (GII), both on this racetrack, before taking the rest of the summer off. Her record shows four wins out of fives races at Belmont, and seven wins out of 11 starts overall. The only off-the-board finish came at Keeneland in the Madison (GI) when the pace collapsed.

A bit surprisingly, Wedding Toast’s fanbase feels relatively small considering the consistent record. In the Phipps, she defeated champion filly Untapable (the 2015 version anyway) by five lengths. The Ruffian winning margin ended up being four lengths. This mare possesses talent. As for pace concerns, she won while rating off the leaders before, but expect an aggressive strategy.

Critics of Frosted’s ride in the Travers (GI) will not enjoy seeing Jose Lezcano’s name. Yet, despite his status as a more effective turf jockey, Lezcano rides well enough on dirt and should give Wedding Toast the proper trip for her style. From post position two, expect one of two scenarios to happen. Either Wedding Toast goes to the lead and stays there, or the outside speed applies pressure and Wedding Toast becomes softened enough to let Curalina pass.

Curalina, trained by Todd Pletcher, comes into the Beldame off a third-place finish in the Alabama Stakes (GI) at a distance possibly too long for her. She cuts back to nine furlongs now, the distance of her victory in the Coaching Club American Oaks (GI). Hardcore speed figure handicappers using BRIS will notice she never broke 100 on their scale. Out of the horses likely to move up though, she rates as the top choice to improve because three-year-old horses grow and mature throughout the year.

Beldame Stakes 2015 Curalina

Curalina, pictured above with John Velazquez in the Acorn Stakes, is trained by Todd Pletcher and comes into the Beldame off a third-place finish in the Alabama Stakes (GI) at a distance possibly too long for her. Photo: Susie Raisher, Coglianese/NYRA

Considering the connections and sire Curlin, Curalina will not offer much value. Out of six career starts, this filly, who starts from the rail on Saturday, started as the favorite four times. Bettors like this horse, which is discouraging for those searching for a decent score.

If, and only if, the pace collapses, House Rules can take advantage and pick up a Grade I win. Trained by James Jerkens, House Rules enjoys closing from the back of the pack. Those types tend to finish underneath on dirt more often than not, and her overall form indicates such a result. She finished third to Wedding Toast in the Ogden Phipps and Ruffian.

Handicappers taking a closer look at House Rule’s workouts will notice two recent bullets. On closer inspection, the recent bullet came against three other horses, and the other one against seven. If desperate for a value-selection on top, then use her. Just realize the ceiling.

Longshot seekers will also go for Hot Stones, a mare who won an ungraded stakes race at Saratoga Race Course by over nine lengths. She also won an optional claiming event by three lengths on this racetrack back in June. The problem is, even if this mare found something more and reached another level, Wedding Toast will make sure she is toast. Perhaps Javier Castellano will give a clever enough ride to win, but Wedding Toast and Curalina look too tough.

Considering the $400k purse and Grade I status, the field seems light! Curalina’s connections deserve praise for taking on older horses. While normal in the past, going outside of restricted conditions became taboo. Few connections want to tackle older horses before the Breeders’ Cup. Expect Wedding Toast or Curalina to win, and move on to a more interesting betting race.

Beldame Stakes 2015 Post Positions & Odds
Race 5 3:06 PM ET
1 Curalina 3-1 Velazquez/Pletcher
2 Wedding Toast 6-5 Lezcano/McLaughlin
3 Hot Stones 6-1 Castellano/Levine
4 Catch My Drift 5-1 Ortiz, Jr./Brown
5 Call Pat 15-1 Saez/Cox
6 House Rules 10-1 Alvarado/Jerkens

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