Shapazian’s Belmont picks – June 24

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The serious countdown might be on for Saratoga – t-minus less than four weeks – but a strong Saturday card is still on tap at Belmont Park and John Shapazian hopes to add a few winners to his tally.

The Saratoga Special’s leading handicapper has the scoop on the 10-race card topped by the $100,000 Wild Applause for 3-year-old fillies going 1 mile on the grass. Enjoy the card and good luck.

Race 1
SHESMYHEARTANDSOUL adds blinkers and appears the speed of the speeds, must avoid a duel with BELLELARAMA going out for Steve Asmussen with Irad Ortiz Jr. in the irons.  SALORI’S BANK will take advantage if the early pace setters fade in the lane.  2-4-5

Race 2
DIAMONDS N STONES had an encouraging debut, finds a soft field for her second attempt.  DESERT AFFAIR, uncoupled stable mate of the top choice, will try to take them all the way on the engine.  HANSEN’S HELP drops in for a tag, ran well last year in the slop.  8-6-7

Race 3
JULES N ROME (main track only) is the horse to beat on the main oval. On turf, GIOIA STELLA did not take to the sloppy going in her first race of 2017, looks well spotted for Christophe Clement.  SQUEEZE comes off a year’s sabbatical, undefeated in two prior starts.  PUCA missed narrowly in her last, figures close.  3-4-6-1

Race 4
BASIC HERO makes his 11th attempt for his maiden win, drops in for a tag, will set the early pace, now or never.  WON’T BURN ran well in last, goes out for Jeremiah Englehart who is having a solid Belmont meet.  SHOOT THE GAP may improve with blinkers added today.  2-6-3

Race 5
VERY FASHIONABLE makes her 2017 debut, showed promise last season, goes out for a sharp outfit, may also run well on the main track.  DISCREET IMAGE flashed some speed in her last effort, should go well on dirt.  LOVER’S KEY must draw in off the also-eligible list, shoots for four straight victories, will need a firm turf course.  9-1-13

Race 6
SWITZERLAND disappointed at odds on after stumbling in the slop, maybe over bet today in what could be a shaky proposition. JAVELIN comes off a sharp effort in the off going.  D’AMBROSIO should improve in his second start for Kiaran McLaughlin.  9-1-4

Race 7
BROKEN ENGAGEMENT can boss these if moved to the main track.  Otherwise on turf, VINTAGE MATTERS is afforded an edge, several solid efforts last year.  ELENZEE takes on winners after a wire-to-wire maiden score.  VOODOO SONG returns to the lawn, fits with these.  3-9-1-4

Race 8
RUBILINDA crushed maiden in her debut, the daughter of Frankel could be something special for Chad Brown.  LULL and BELLAVAIS have some solid turf efforts and both have pedigrees that suggest they will take to a sloppy main track.  6-2-3

Race 9
In a wide-open event where you can make a case for many runners, ALTAR BOY is afforded a narrow margin, has also run well on the main track.  BECKER’S GALAXY (main track only) comes off a Danny Gargan claim, looks dangerous.  CONVERGE and CALL PROVISION would be no surprise.  5-1A-8-7

Race 10
BATS CLEANUP drops in for a tag, should go well today, Gary Sciacca gives Dylan Davis a leg up.  WONDERMEISTER has some efforts that put him in the mix.  MR MASSENA returns to the sod, may get a minor award.  10-2-11