Shapazian’s Belmont picks – June 9

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The Belmont Stakes Festival started Thursday and continues Friday with an 11-race card topped by five stakes.

The Saratoga Special’s John Shapazian is looking forward to the big weekend and offers his picks for Friday. He said his most recent performance, when he went 8-for-28, was a “ho-hum weekend.” John’s eight winners gave him 65 from 178 races (37 percent) since we started publishing his weekend picks at the start of the spring-summer meeting.

Here are John’s picks for Friday, June 9. And don’t forget to check back for Saturday’s Belmont Stakes Day selections, along with stakes picks from the TIHR handicappers.

Race 1
BOBBY ON FLEEK returns to state-breds after trying open company on a sloppy Churchill strip, obvious choice.  BAVARO is the speed of the race, will go well if he takes to “Big Sandy.” SUDDEN SURPRISE will also be up close in the early going.  8-7-3

Race 2
SPRING FOLLY closed fast in her debut before being blocked in the lane, goes out for Michael Dickinson.  SHE’S DREAMING also showed promise for Tom Bush.  DIVINE CAUSE comes off the bench after some fair attempts last year.  7-5-12

Race 3
FOX RULES will try and take them all the way on the engine, will prove tough to beat.  ZENNOR was sharp at Keeneland for Godolphin, Joe Bravo in the irons. TURBO STREET looks for his first stateside win.  4-2-1

Race 4
MARSHALL PLAN will be tough to beat if he can replicate his April 8 effort.  MR CLASSICAL is a well-bred firster for Juddmonte.  ROUGH SEA showed some ability, takes on younger foes.  5-2-4

Race 5
DIRECT DIAL is afforded a slight edge for Hall Of Famer Steve Asmussen.  SALMANAZAR figures close but does have a slight break in his workout tab.  PRESENCE OF MIND, son of Trappe Shot, goes out for George Weaver.  5-7-3

Race 6
ROCKETRY stretches out to 11 panels, appears ready for his maiden score.  INTO THE BREACH woke up on the turf.  ERADICTOR ran well in south Florida, attracts Javier Castellano.  2-10-11

Race 7
SNAP DECISION may get a more aggressive ride with Johnny V. in the saddle, slim margin.  BRICKS AND MORTAR has a series of steady drills at Saratoga.  CRUZ DIEZ had traffic problems in his last.  8-3-5

Race 8
STALLWALKIN’ DUDE, the veteran campaigner, never stops impressing.  WHITMORE ships in for Ron Moquett, looks tough and looks for 6 straight.  NOHOLDINGBACK may have needed his last.  4-8-3

Race 9
SEA CALISI and DACITA face off in what will prove to be an exciting rematch from last year’s Grade 2 New York, Sea Calisi is afforded a slight edge, take your pick.  QUIDURA goes out for Graham Motion.  6-8-1

Race 10
RED CARDINAL a lots of upside potential in his stateside debut.  ST MICHEL would be no surprise.  Looking for a bomb, try ROMAN APPROVAL.  10-13-8

Race 11
BY THE MOON draws a cozy outside post to either stalk the pace or be on the lead.  LIGHTSTREAM did not like the sloppy going on the Derby undercard, sent out by Brian Lynch.  QUEZON maybe be a horse-for-the-course, 4-for-8 at Belmont,  9-5-4