$250k Woody Stephens

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$250,000 Woody Stephens (G1) at Belmont Park Race 2 (Saturday, June 20, 2020: 12:25 p.m./ET; 9:25 a.m./PT) Seven furlongs on the main track (three-year-olds)

Six stakes races are sprinkled across a 12-race Belmont Stakes card this Saturday at Belmont Park. The first of six, the Woody Stephens (G1), attracted a group of five sophomores sprinting seven-furlongs:  

#1 NO PAROLE earned a gate to wire victory in an allowance race at Oaklawn Park on April 24 as the 6/5 favorite in a field of ten. Tom Amoss trainee worked a blistering fast 57 and change bullet five-furlong workout ten days ago at Churchill Downs and picks up the services of jockey Luis Saez for the first time. Expect him to gun to the lead from the rail.

#2 MERU makes his second start off a six-and-a-half-month layoff. In his most recent afternoon appearance on May 25, the son of SKY MESA suffered brief traffic issues in midstretch and came up three-quarters of a length short of the winner ECHO TOWN. With a race under his belt, he may be ready for a peak effort. Top jockey Irad Ortiz Jr. picks up the mount, too, which only adds to the appeal.

#3 MISCHIEVOUS ALEX hit the wire first in the Swale (G3) going this distance in February and returned to win the Gotham (G3) one month later at Aqueduct. He sports a perfect two-for-two record when traveling seven furlongs and possesses tactical speed. The only knock is it appears he missed some training time as he has a gap in his works from April 1 to May 20.

#4 ECHO TOWN is a picture of consistency, having never finished off the board in five career starts. One of two runners trained by Steve Asmussen, the SPEIGHTSTOWN colt comes off a hard-fought win against allowance foes on May 25 at Churchill Downs. His go-to jockey (Ricardo Santana Jr.) rides, which indicates this guy may be stronger of the Asmussen pair.

#5 SHOPLIFTED cuts back from multiple route races to this sprint after a pair of off the board finishes against decent two-turn company at Oaklawn Park. He broke his maiden sprinting at Saratoga and also ran second at this distance in the Hopeful (G1). Regular jockey Ricardo Santana Jr. hops off to ride #4 ECHO TOWN, but new jockey Jose Ortiz is more than a suitable replacement.


1. #1 NO PAROLE - Quick colt was geared down in an impressive effort last time.
2. #2 MERU - Could take a step forward off his last start.
3. #4 ECHO TOWN - Hard to ignore his consistency.


I’ll make a straight win bet on my top selection as well as key him in exactas.

BANKROLL PLAY ($50 Budget)

$20 Win: #1 NO PAROLE
$15 Exacta: #1 NO PAROLE over #2 MERU and #4 ECHO TOWN ($30).


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