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Check out our predictions and odds for the 2020 Woody Stephens Stakes at Belmont Park!
Away since a stylish win in the Grade 3 Gotham on March 7, Mischievous Alex will put his three-race winning streak to the test when he headlines the Grade 1 Woody Stephens Stakes at Belmont Park. As part of the Belmont Stakes undercard, the 7-furlong sprint will be the first of four Grade 1 races at Belmont on Saturday.
An impressive winner of three consecutive stakes races, the son of Into Mischief has been perfect since being outfitted in blinkers in his final start as a juvenile. Considered for the Belmont Stakes, Mischievous Alex will instead use this $250,000 race as a prep for a likely start in the Grade 1 Haskell Invitational on July 18 at Monmouth Park.
Chief among his rivals in the five-horse Woody Stephens field will be Echo Town from the barn of Steve Asmussen. Last out, the son of Speightstown went gate-to-wire in a stakes quality allowance sprint at Churchill Downs. The bay colt has yet to fail to fire in a career of five fast performances, all of which have come in 2020, and at the distance of 6 furlongs.
Each of the other three: Meru, No Parole, and Shoplifted have winning stakes experience and should not be discounted in this grade 1 sprint.
|What to watch||Woody Stephens Stakes (G1)|
|When||Saturday, June 20 — 12:25 pm Eastern time|
|How to watch||Fox Sports 1|
The class of the race, this John Servis-trained runner has been a real tiger since picking up blinkers on November 5. Three big stakes wins have followed, with the most impressive coming when he ran away and hid from his competition in the 7 furlong, Grade 3 Swale Stakes on February 1. That performance, and his affinity for the trip, point him out as the one to beat on Saturday. He drops back down in distance after winning the one-mile Gotham last time, which came 2 ½ months ago. He should join Echo Town in the early chase of No Parole which could take a little starch out of him in the final furlong, and if this is truly a prep for the Haskell, he may not be at his very best, in what looks like a tricky race. He deserves to be the favorite, but there is certainly hope for an upset in here.
Perhaps even more so than the favorite, he will be tasked with going after No Parole in the early stages of this race, which should set up for a very quick pace. He has proven tough as nails at six furlongs, with only a narrow miss against the talented Long Weekend preventing a three-race winning streak. A half-brother to J Boys Echo, I do like his chances to prevent No Parole from wiring this, and I also expect him to be a successful horse at 7 furlongs, but on Saturday the combination of having to run fast early, and the extra furlong could make his task very difficult.
The speed of the speed, he has absolutely blitzed his competition in four of his five career races. The only exception is when he folded early in the sloppy 1 1/16-mile Rebel Stakes under the heavy pressure of Nadal. Back sprinting, he returned with an easy win, and must be respected in here. He’ll break from the rail on Saturday, so it should be just a matter of how far he can carry his speed. He’s a threat in the small field, but I don’t expect the two favorites to leave him to his own devices early, which should ultimately be his undoing.
Although beaten by Echo Town last time, this son of Sky Mesa has plenty to like in here. A sharp winner of his first two career races, including the Smoke Glacken Stakes, while sprinting at Monmouth Park, he was stretched out to a mile for his third start in the Grade 3 Nashua Stakes at Aqueduct last fall. He endured a tough trip, but was able to get up for a distant second behind a huge race run by Independence Hall. Back sprinting this year, he returned to test the in-form Echo Town at Churchill Downs, and only missed by three-quarters of a length. Given the tightener,, and the extra furlong on Saturday, he looks ready to kick in his best rally at a distance which should be ideal for him. As the likely fourth choice in here, he is the top pick.
Another who has a stakes victory on his resume, he’s yet to win in three starts this year. Because of this, he figures to be the highest shot on the board. It seems like they tried, perhaps for too long, to see if he could go a distance, but his first two races back last summer would make you believe that he could have a future as a sprinter. He should be last in the early going, but if the pace is especially hot, he could be making his presence felt in the late stages of this 7 furlong race.
$10 Exacta Box Meru with Mischievous Alex = $20
$5 Exacta Box Meru with Echo Town = $10
$5 Exacta Box Meru with Shoplifted = $10
If you’re playing only to win, go with my top pick, Meru.
Taken to the races at a very young age, Brian has been a passionate fan of horse racing his entire life. Professionally, his work has been published on several leading industry sites. Brian served as the Editor of Horse Racing Nation from 2010-2017, where he still writes a regular column and hosts the popular weekly webcast HorseCenter.
Email: [email protected]
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