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SportsHorseracing

Steve Matthews' Belmont selections for Saturday,  May 1

Best Bet: APEX PREDATOR (1); Best Value: BAD GUY (7)

FIRST: Apex Predator owns speed and drops; swift half-mile drill last week seals the deal. Spitball could be in the garden spot if pace meltdown ensues. Wardenofthenorth is training consistently for first start since October; logged only win at Belmont.

SECOND: Slippin Jimmy owns the field's fastest late-pace figures. Montauk Daddy is fleet-footed and could prove very tough on a soft lead. Perceived should pack amplified wallop with cutback to 6 furlongs.

THIRD: Limonite was pace and position compromised last time; turn back to mile plays to strength. Mr. Buff is speedy and owns fast numbers; paltry price is the problem. Backsideofthemoon owns fast back figures; don't ignore.

FOURTH: Scotto compiled tight work tab for first start in three months; ready to roll. Whats in It for Me made middle move and flattened last time; dangerous. Olympique makes first start with maiden-claiming tag; worth long look.

FIFTH: Wissahickon makes first start since gelded; breakthrough predicted. Rockemperor fits the signature Chad Brown profile; big-time player. Tribhuvan, also from Brown barn, packs powerful late kick; right in the thick of this.

SIXTH: Colonel Juan gets class relief after taking backward step in last; rebounds. Playwright was a hard-charging second in last; dangerous. Frankie Barone makes first start since claimed by suddenly-live Oscar Barrera III stable; very interesting.

SEVENTH: Bad Guy should pack intensified kick with turn back to 6 furlongs. Quickflash should be favorably positioned near the front in bulky field. Scotty Brown notched only win on Belmont sod; worth long look.

EIGHTH: Venus Oyzo, eliminated at the start last out, switches to preferred footing and makes peak start of form cycle. Candy Jar has finished second in last three outings; runner-up again? Strafe makes first grass start for Chad Brown; be no surprise.

NINTH: Montauk Traffic has trained swiftly since top-figured win on Feb. 19; more to come. Jemography owns five wins and four seconds from last 10 starts; must consider. Yodel E. A. Who is fleet-footed and owns fast numbers; right in the thick of this.

TENTH: Always Shopping delivers strong efforts with machine-like consistency; "A" game takes this. Mutamakina is 1-for-1 at distance; big-time player. Antoinette is quick from the gate and could prove very tough on a soft lead.

ELEVENTH: Exfiltration moves to grass for barn that's profitable with first-time turf runners. Emma and I could be the prime beneficiary if pace meltdown ensues. Lemon Taffy, a game second in debut on dirt, is from a dam that has thrown a grass winner. Kiss and Run owns fast figures on best efforts; must be factored into the mix.

New York Sports