Shapazian’s Belmont picks – July 8

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The Stars and Stripes program highlights the final Saturday of the spring-summer meeting at Belmont Park and The Saratoga Special’s John Shapazian serves up his picks right here.

Check out below to see who John likes in the day’s five stakes, including a pair of Grade 1 races for 3-year-olds on the turf with seven-figure purses. Enjoy and good luck.

Race 1
LE PIN makes his 2017 debut for Michael Tabor-Todd Pletcher, the son of War Front should take to the turf.  MASTER MERION is probably the horse to beat after a strong effort June 14.  WAGE ACCERLERATION tries the turf for Chad Brown, takes on younger rivals.  4-3-1

Race 2
SELENITE must overcome an outside post but is in peak form for John Toscano.  BARREL OF DREAMS makes his second start of the year after being caught wide in his last, becomes the horse to beat if moved to the main track, Charlie Baker gives Johnny V. a leg up.  WEATHER GIRL draws the hedge and Javier Castellano.  8-2-1

Race 3
NATIONAL FLAG, the son of Speightstown, debuts for an outfit that knows how to win with 2-year-olds.  BASE COMMAND, by Tiznow, has been impressive in the morning, should come out running for Mark Hennig.  ROAMING UNION attracts Mike Smith for Kelly Breen.  8-2-4

Race 4
LILLIE’S ANSWER and coupled entry mate DESERT DUCHESS look well spotted for Michael Maker.  TEN PENNY PRINCESS was blocked in her last, figures close.  TIZ TWICE deserved close inspection if moved to the main track.  1A-1-10-2

Race 5
INDYCOTT is afforded an edge if moved off the lawn. Otherwise, ROMAN APPROVAL cuts back from a 16-furlong marathon, takes on an easier field.  WHATAWONDERFLWORLD had a tardy start in his last, should improve today.  TURBO STREET has three sharp stateside efforts but cannot seem to find the winner’s circle, adds blinkers.  13-5-10-11

Race 6
BATTALION RUNNER has been working well for his return after a runner up finish to Irish War Cry in the Wood Memorial, must avoid a speed duel. PRACTICAL JOKE has raced against the best 3 year olds, did not get the best of trips in the Derby. TRUE TIMBER projects to be the pacesetter.  2-3-4

Race 7
MIND YOUR BISCUITS needs to bring his “A” game from Dubai, the hard-knocking son of Posse has been working well in the morning, will appreciate any moisture in the track.  UNIFIED comes off a narrow defeat in the Grade 1 Carter and AWESOME SLEW who comes out of the Grade 1 Met Mile.  2-7-5

Race 8
Chad Brown sends out four runners in the Grade 1 Belmont Oaks. UNI, the daughter of More Than Ready, ships in from across the pond, Irad Ortiz Jr. in the irons.  SISTERCHARLIE also makes her stateside debut for Brown, was a game second in a bulky field of 16 in a Grade 1 event. NEW MONEY HONEY would be no surprise.  7-12-8

Race 9
SHAMAN GHOST is the best horse East of the Mississippi, was able to run down his rivals in an event that went in a pedestrian pace, can boss these.  MATT KING COAL will be on the engine.  KEEN ICE has not won since his victory over American Pharoah in the 2015 Travers.  6-2-1

Race 10
YOSHIDA, sent out by WinStar Farm-Bill Mott, is the horse to beat.  CALLED TO THE BAR has raced well in France, tries the Belmont lawn.  OSCAR PERFORMANCE was allowed to crawl on the lead in his last, may not be as fortunate today.  7-5-4

Race 11
WINGMAN improved on the Belmont turf, may move forward off that effort. BIG EXCHANGE goes out for Brad Cox who is having a solid meet. CALIFORNIA SWING adds blinkers after disappointing as the favorite.  5-9-1