Shapazian’s Belmont picks – July 4

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Independence Day weekend comes to a dramatic close Tuesday with a nine-race card at Belmont Park topped by the $100,000 Manila Stakes going 1 mile on the grass.

A field of seven is entered for the day’s feature and Big Handsom is the heavy favorite on the morning line at even-money. Who does The Saratoga Special’s John Shapazian like in the Manila? Check out his picks below and enjoy the fireworks tonight.

Race 1
DESIROUS drops again after a disappointing effort at Parx, finds a soft field, may be the pacesetter.  HEAVENLY LUCKY had a fair attempt at Keeneland, shows a spotty work tab at Saratoga.  SHEZASTRAYBULLET adds Lasix for her second try.  6-4-7

Race 2
MISS AJA BROWN had a tardy start in her first race back, drops to a new claiming low, Jose Ortiz gets the call.  ESTHER THE QUEEN gets 7-pound apprentice Luis Reyes for Michelle Nevin, also drops.  BIGKAT AND CAMILLE closed to win a starter allowance event, figures close.  3-1-2

Race 3
TOMMY T has been firing bullets in the morning, the son of Shackleford debuts for Bobby Barbara.  OLD DUBAI ships in from Gulfstream, goes out for a barn that excels in second time starters.  WEATHER WIZ has a series of steady works, draws an outside post that may prove an advantageous.  4-6-7

Race 4
LULU’S POM POM makes her second attempt off the bench, the daughter of Pomeroy may improve off that effort.  AMBER DANCER takes on younger rivals, had some fair turf attempts last year.  TRES CHARMANT was bet down to 4-1 in her debut, did little running, adds blinkers.  6-2-1

Race 5
NEW YORK SONG cruised to victory in his first race back in over a year, will be a handful if he can replicate that effort.  ELENZEE also had an easy time with his maiden win, could take another step forward for Mark Casse.  ORDINAIRE has been sharp in the morning, will be part of the early pace.  10-4-11

Race 6
IRON POWER takes on easier foes, does his best running on a firm turf.  MR HARLAN over came a wide post to miss by a head, better post position today.  DREAM DOCTOR had some decent attempts on the lawn in 2016, should be a factor today.  5-4-1

Race 7
CAVIAR CZAR loved the Churchill slop on Derby Day, goes out for Bobby Flay-Todd Pletcher, a couple works on the turf look puzzling.  EMANCIPATION stretches out to 8 panels, powerful close in his debut for Shug McGaughey.  DOGTOWN will try and wire the field.  6-4-1

Race 8
BIG HANDSOME looms a short priced favorite, will probably be over bet but is clearly the one to beat.  BRICKS AND MORTAR, the undefeated son of Giant’s Causeway will have to step up his game again to compete with the top choice.  DOVER CLIFFS was had a rough trip Preakness Day.  3-1-2

Race 9
DARING DESTINY goes out for a sharp outfit that does well with second time starters.  HEAT CHECK cuts back to 6 furlongs after being caught wide in last.  THE POOCH did not take to a sloppy Belmont surface, returns to the lawn. 1-3-5