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Steve Mathews Belmont selections for Friday, June 24



Best Value: JOHN’S CATNIP (9)

FIRST: Heliodoro is riding a forward line on the numbers and could be sitting on career-best at generous ticket. River Date logged endurance-building, one-mile workout for first start in nine months; dangerous. Shoot from the Hip was a clear-cut second to a runaway winner in last; right in the thick of this.

SECOND: Meet in Khartoum regressed in last after fast-figured placing in previous start; bounce-back effort today. Miss Swisher makes first start since claimed by Gary Gullo; big-time player. Game Girl bested a next-out winner when breaking maiden last time; dangerous.

THIRD: Three Alarm Fire was a front-running third in last and should have more to give in second start since two-month absence. Far From Over is training with a purpose for first start in 16 months; very dangerous. Lideris should improve with drop and return to dirt; don’t dismiss.

FOURTH: Tea and Cricket logged five tight works for first start in 55 days; call in wide-open maiden dash. Apostrophe owns speed and makes first start with maiden-claiming tag; dangerous. Henrik Rules also drops and notched career-best number in debut at Belmont last fall; right in the thick of this.

FIFTH: Compliance Officer was speed sharpened in last and should move forward in second outing since six-month absence. Drawing Away Stable entry: Mr Rosenthal is fleet-footed and loves Belmont grass and mate Hidden Vow also is a Belmont turf lover (all three wins on surface); potent pairing. Front wheels back in a hurry after tough-trip fourth versus pricier field last week; dangerous.

SIXTH: Bankers Holiday fired eye-catching half-mile bullet since last start and owns fast back numbers. Quality Indeed is speedy, rested and training sharply; big-time threat. Data Driven exits fast-figured score in last; could easily pair up wins.

SEVENTH: Taurine notched swift final fraction when a determined maiden winner in debut; more to come. You Lie makes first start since claimed after clear-cut score in last; very playable. Skipalute logged most recent win at the distance at Belmont Park last fall; worth long look.

EIGHTH: Half Irish was a hand-ridden winner in debut at Gulfstream this spring; inside slot seals the deal. Take These Chains also won debut on Gulfstream grass and has trained sharply for return; very dangerous. Morethanjusthello stopped on a dime after rider lost irons when facing tougher last time; speed must always be respected.

NINTH: John’s Catnip is riding a forward line on the numbers and fired crisp, half-mile drill on Sunday. Young Anna Lee could play out as the controlling speed in turf debut. Subtle Lady makes first start with maiden-claiming tag; dangerous. Sophia’s Choice should pack enhanced kick with cutback to 7 furlongs.

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