Top Horse Racing Picks for Saturday, June 4, 2022

| June 3, 2022 1:26 pm PDT

We’re going to spend most of our time on the turf courses at the three tracks I visited for my Saturday horse racing picks.

As usual, we have plenty of stakes races to wager on, what with Churchill Downs featuring six stakes matches all by itself. Sure, the other two tracks only bring a single stakes race each to the party, but hey—it’s the thought that counts, right?

In any case, remember to check out the full race cards for each of the three tracks at our horse race betting sites.

Good luck!

My Saturday Horse Racing Picks for Belmont Park

We’ll begin on the turf course with race four, a six-furlong allowance optional claiming race for New York-born and -bred three-year-olds and upward. My money’s on the 5/2 morning-line favorite, Surprise Boss, ridden by Kendrick Carmouche.

This three-year-old bay colt moneyed six of his eight career starts, winning two, including his most recent.

What put him into the spotlight for me is his performance last year in a couple of stakes races—the Bertram F. Bongard Stakes (Black Type) her at Belmont (third place) and the Rick Violette Stakes (Black Type) at Saratoga (fourth place).

The fourth-place at Saratoga was right before Surprise Boss broke his maiden, and the Bongard Stakes third-place finish was the race immediately after his maiden win.

Juan C. Vazquez trains Surprise Boss for Richie’s World Stables LLC.

Race seven is a seven-furlong turf run for fillies and mares three years old and upward. If Jose L. Ortiz rides the 5/1 underdog Mona Stella into the starting gate, bet the pair to win.

This four-year-old chestnut filly finished in the money five of her seven career starts, winning two.

Co-owner and longtime horse racing veteran Patrick L. Biancone trains Mona Stella for Reeves Thoroughbred Racing, Andy Biancone, and himself.

By the way, if Mona Stella is not in the race, buy a win ticket on the second half of the 1/1A coupled entry—the 4/1 Romanosa, with Trevor McCarthy aboard.

This four-year-old filly recently imported from the UK finished seven of her eight career starts in the money, winning one.

Christophe Clement trains Romanosa for Madaket Stables LLC, Michael Dubb, Tony Weintraub, and Brandon M. Dalinka.

Race nine is the Pennine Ridge Stakes (Grade II), a $200,000 purse, 1-1/8 miles turf race for three-year-olds. I have no doubt the morning-line favorite, Unanimous Consent, will finish in the money in this race, but I’m less convinced that his demonstrated “lie back in the tall grass until the final furlong” style will serve him well enough for this race.

Instead, I’m betting my two dollars on the 5/2 second-favorite, Emmanuel, piloted by top jockey Irad Ortiz, Jr.

This bay colt moneyed three of his four career starts, winning two. He notably finished fourth in the Fasig-Tipton Fountain of Youth Stakes (Grade II) at Gulfstream Park in March, and second in the Blue Grass Stakes (Grade I) at Keeneland in April.

Those two races gave Emmanuel enough qualifying points to put him j-u-s-t the wrong side of the bubble for a starting post at the 2022 Kentucky Derby.

Thoroughbred racing Hall of Famer Todd A. Pletcher trains Emmanuel for owners WinStar Farm LLC and Siena Farm LLC.

Saturday’s Picks for Churchill Downs

Race five — Regret Stakes (Grade III)

This is a $200,000 purse, 1-1/8 miles turf race for three-year-old fillies. I like the 7/5 morning-line favorite, McKulick, with Tyler Gaffalione in the irons.

In a tight field of six, this bay filly is in a class by herself, with three money finishes in three career starts, one of them a win. After winning her initial maiden attempt last August, she went on to finish third in the Miss Grillo Stakes (Grade II) at Belmont Park last October, and second in the Edgewood Stakes (Grade II) here at Churchill Downs in May.

Triple Crown and Breeders’ Cup veteran Chad C. Brown trains McKulick for Klaravich Stables, Inc.

Race seven —  Shawnee Stakes

This is a $200,000 purse, 1-1/16 miles dirt track run for fillies and mares four years old and upward. I have to agree with the morning line here, as well: Bet the 3/5 favorite, Pauline’s Pearl, ridden by veteran jockey Luis Saez.

The race will be much tighter than the odds suggest, but this four-year-old filly should still easily prevail versus the rest of this six-horse field.

For the record, Pauline’s Pearl moneyed 11 of her 13 career starts, winning five. More importantly, she’s moneyed all three of her 2022 runs, which included a second-place finish in the Azeri Stakes (Grade II), and firsts in both the Houston Ladies Classic Stakes (Grade III) and the La Troienne Stakes (Grade I).

Forty-year horse racing veteran (and Hall of Famer) Steven M. Asmussen trains Pauline’s Pearl for Stonestreet Stables LLC.

Race eight — Arlington Stakes (Grade III)

This is a $200,000 purse, 1-1/16 miles turf race for four-year-olds and upward. I’m not nearly as impressed as the morning-line is with the top favorites, so I’m buying a win ticket on the 4/1 underdog, Floriform, piloted by Tyler Gaffalione.

This four-year-old bay colt finished in the money five of his seven career starts, winning three. He notably finished third in a field of 12 in the Tampa Bay Stakes (Grade III) in February.

Longtime horse racing legend William I. Mott trains Floriform for Juddmonte.

Race nine — Aristides Stakes

This is a $200,000 purse, six-furlong dirt track race for four-year-olds and upward. This one’s going to be tight, but I see the 9/2 underdog Miles Ahead—with Joseph Talamo in the irons—in the winner’s circle.

This five-year-old dark bay gelding moneyed 15 of his 22 career starts, winning eleven. His most recent win was the Gulfstream Park Sprint Stakes (Listed) in February. He also won the Smile Sprint Invitational Stakes (Grade III) last July at Gulfstream.

Longtime horse racing veteran Paul J. McGee trains Miles Ahead for Jay Em Ess Stable.

Race ten — Blame Stakes

This is a $200,000, 1-1/8 miles dirt track run for four-year-olds and upward. I’m putting my money of the 5/2 second-favorite, Scalding, piloted by top jockey Javier Castellano.

This four-year-old dark bay colt finished five of his six career starts in the money, winning four.

While the morning-line favorite has a slightly better record, Scalding hasn’t been lounging in his paddock for the past six months—he’s bringing home the bacon, with wins this year in the $100,000 Michelob Ultra Challenger Stakes (Grade III) in March at Tampa Bay, and the Ben Ali Stakes (Grade III) in April at Keeneland.

Hall of Famer Claude R. McGaughey III trains Scalding for owners Grandview Equine, Cheyenne Stable, LLC, and LNJ Foxwoods.

Race eleven — Audubon Stakes

This is a $200,000 purse, 1-1/8 miles turf run for three-year-olds. I like the way the morning-line thinks for this race: Bet the 7/2 favorite, Grand Sonata, with Tyler Gaffalione aboard.

This dark bay colt moneyed five of his six career starts, winning three. Included in those wins were the Dania Beach Stakes (Listed) in January and the Kitten’s Joy Stakes (Grade III) in February—both at Gulfstream Park.

Todd A. Pletcher trains Grand Sonata for owner-breeder Whisper Hill Farm, LLC.

Saturday Horse Racing Picks for Santa Anita Park

We’re on the turf course for race one, a one-mile allowance optional claiming run for three-year-olds and upward. I’m betting my money on the second-favored (at 7/2) Shadow Sphinx, ridden by Jose Valdivia, Jr.

This seven-year-old dark bay gelding finished in the money 14 of his 25 career starts, winning ten. That gives him a significantly better record than any of his competition in this eleven-horse field.

It also doesn’t hurt that Shadow Sphinx has been regularly posting triple-digit speed figures for his entire career.

Kristin Mulhall—who took Imperialism to the 2004 Kentucky Derby—trains Shadow Sphinx for owners 47 Roses, LLC, Mojallali Stables, and Twilight Racing LLC.

Race two is the Desert Stormer Stakes (Grade III), a $200,000 purse, six-furlong dirt track run for fillies and mares three years old and upward.

This one counts as my no-brainer pick for the day: Bet the 4/5 morning-line favorite, Becca Taylor, piloted by top jockey Juan J. Hernandez.

A standout in this short field of five, this four-year-old bay filly finished in the money all eight of her career starts, winning seven of them. That includes the Evening Jewel Stakes (Black Type) last year, and the Spring Fever Stakes (Black Type) in February—both here at Santa Anita.

Regularly ranked among the top 100 in wins, earnings, or both for the past 17 years, Steven Miyadi trains Becca Taylor for owner-breeder Nicholas B. Alexander.

Race seven is the Cinema Stakes, and $100,000 grass run for three-year-olds. While I suspect this will be a tighter race than the morning line suggests, I still agree that the winner will be the 4/5 favorite, Balnikhov, with Juan J. Hernandez in the irons.

A recent import from Ireland, this dark bay gelding moneyed eight of his ten career starts, winning three.

Most pertinent is the fact that Balnikhov’s two races since his arrival here in the States resulted in a second-place finish in the Singletary Stakes (Black Type) here at Santa Anita in April, and a second-place finish in the American Turf Stakes (Grade II) at Churchill Downs last month.

Breeders’ Cup veteran Philip D’Amato trains Balnikhov for owners Little Red Feather Racing, Madaket Stables LLC, and Old Bones Racing Stable, LLC.

Looking forward to the Belmont Stakes next Saturday (June 11, 2022)? Read all about the surprises and the favorites for the final jewel of the Triple Crown of thoroughbred horse racing:

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J.W. Paine
J.W. Paine

J.W. Paine is one of the most experienced writers at He's written for television and the printed media, and is a published novelist (as Tom Elliott).

Paine loves writing about Las Vegas nearly as much he loves living here. An experienced gambler, he's especially familiar with thoroughbred horseracing, poker, blackjack, and slots.

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