Homeracing

The best $10 bet on the Belmont Stakes undercard

Profile Picture: Keeler Johnson

June 19th, 2020

Looking to build your bankroll for the Belmont Stakes (G1)? Let’s take $10 and endeavor to start the Belmont Park card on a winning note with a price play in the Woody Stephens (G1), the first stakes race of the afternoon.

Year after year, the Woody Stephens attracts some of the best 3-year-old sprinters in the country. Time and time again, the 7-furlong sprint unfolds at a rapid tempo, and more often than not, the winners share common traits — they are Road to the Kentucky Derby veterans cutting back in distance, and they prevail with a powerful rally from off the pace.

There is a good chance the 2020 Woody Stephens will follow the standard script. Though the field is small, it is packed with speed. #1 No Parole (3-1) has scored four victories in gate-to-wire fashion and worked 5 furlongs in a blazing :57 3/5 June 10, so he is likely to set the pace. Gotham (G3) winner #3 Mischevious Alex (5-2) and Bachelor S. runner-up #4 Echo Town (9-5) also prefer to race on the front end, and even Smoke Glacken S. winner #2 Meru (5-2) has been most effective on or near the front.

That leaves #5 Shoplifted (8-1) as the only genuine late runner in the Woody Stephens field, and he figures to capitalize on a favorable setup. The son of Into Mischief is bred to sprint and showed promise running short at Saratoga last summer, when he dominated his debut. He then rallied to finish second in the 7-furlong Hopeful (G1).

Since then, Shoplifted has raced exclusively around two turns, and his stamina limitations have become apparent. Though he battled to victory in the Remington Springboard Mile, Shoplifted has been unleashing strong middle moves that fizzle before the finish line.

Just look at his effort in the 1 1/8-mile Oaklawn S. on April 11. Shoplifted raced far back early, advanced quickly into a fast pace to challenge for the lead, and flattened out to finish a deceptively good fifth in a large field.

A profile like this can indicate a horse begging to cut back in distance, and Shoplifted will get his opportunity Saturday.

Shoplifted is 8-1 on the morning line, but could drift higher by post time. If he does, we can turn our $10 into $100 or more with nothing more than a win bet, and that’s exactly how I’ll play the race.

$10 to win on #5 Shoplifted

Good luck!

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