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SportsHorseracing

Steve Matthews' Belmont selections for Friday, May 31

Best bet: CALIFORNIA NIGHT (8)

Best value: DREAM FRIEND (3)

FIRST: Simona gets price hike after 5-length score in last; more to come. Golden Vale is speedy and could prove very tough on a soft lead. Reata's Reward also is quick from the gate and should be tighter in second start since eight-month layoff; don't ignore.

SECOND: Theitalianamerican was a hard-charging second in debut; experience edge seals the deal. Papa King ships up from South Florida for debut for Todd Pletcher; could be the goods. Bull of Bayern makes first start for Rudy Rodriguez after being bought for $250K as a yearling; follow the money.

THIRD: Dream Friend is fresh, training sharply and projects as the main speed in turf debut. Mo Diddley makes first start since gelded and was a winner on Belmont grass last spring; very playable. Morning Breez owns positional speed and consistently delivers strong efforts; must consider.

FOURTH: No Regrets succumbed to fast fractions last time; softer flow predicted. All Clear runs late and could be in the catbird seat if top selection hits the wall in the lane. Alrahaal fired crisp half-mile work since last start; very interesting.

FIFTH: Flying Pleasantly should pack amplified wallop with cutback to sprint; call based on price potential. It's a Shaw Thing owns speed but has lost ground in the stretch in all eight starts; must take the good with the bad. Simply Fast was an even fifth in debut; improvement expected.

SIXTH: Opt is from a dam that has thrown four turf winners and is training swiftly for first grass start. Millionaire Joe is fleet-footed, adds blinkers and could play out as the dominant speed; very playable. Alphastest was a two-move fifth in debut on Belmont turf last fall; right in the thick of this.

SEVENTH: Poker Game drops to lifetime low for potent second-off-the-claim stable; winning hand. Curlin's New Moon makes peak start of form cycle and is riding a forward line on the numbers; big-time player. Dr. Hipp takes two-level price drop and owns fast back numbers; must be factored into the mix.

EIGHTH: California Night moves to grass after fast-figured, front-end score in last; transfers razor-sharp form. Master Merion is working strongly and owns win and two seconds in three outings on Belmont turf; very dangerous. White Flag owns four wins from seven starts on Big B sod; right in the thick of this.

NINTH: Ghost Giant shows a workout tab that culminated with half-mile bullet; fast-figured winner on Belmont turf last summer. Spectrolite is speedy and takes sharp price plunge; front-running danger if all is well. Maniacal makes third start of form cycle after game placing in last on Gulfstream grass; very playable. We Should Talk was an even fifth in first start since four-month absence last out; don't overlook.

New York Sports