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Steve Matthews’ Belmont selections for Saturday, July 8

Best bet: PRACTICAL JOKE (6)


FIRST: Wage Acceleration moves to grass for Chad Brown; need more? Master Merion has finished second in four of five starts; always a runner-up? Storm Team is fresh and hails from Alan Goldberg barn; must consider.

SECOND: Iron Mizz owns sprinter’s speed and could capitalize on soft lead; call based on price. Bareeqa, a winner of four of last six, holds razor-sharp current form. Selenite is fresh and owns fast figures; right in the thick of this.

THIRD: Base Command compiled bullet-riddled work tab for debut; best guess. National Flag also is training swiftly for first start; stay tuned to the tote. Shangroyal is the only member of the field with a race under his belt; must consider.

FOURTH: Munchkin Money compiled purposeful training tab for first start since October for streaking Brian Lynch barn. Desert Duchess is fleet-footed and could play out as the controlling speed. Kitty Maddnes was a hard-charging winner in last; very dangerous.

FIFTH: Whatawonderflworld tallied very swift late-pace figure in last and should be aided by today’s added ground. Roman Approval gets class relief and owns fast numbers on best efforts; very playable. Arghad is riding a forward line on the numbers and now makes peak start of form cycle; worth long look.

SIXTH: Practical Joke is 1-for-1 at Belmont Park and compiled six tight works since willing fifth in Kentucky Derby. True Timber has positional speed and noticeably picked up the tempo in last workout; dangerous. Battalion Runner owns two wins and two seconds from four starts; if chalk is your game.

SEVENTH: Green Gratto projects as the speed of the speed with aggressive ride; half-mile bullet on June 23 seals the deal. Stallwalkin’ Dude packs potent late kick and will be in the garden spot if top selection hits the wall in the lane. Awesome Slew should improve with cutback to 7 furlongs; big-time player.

EIGHTH: Violet Blue has trained strongly since determined maiden win last out; primed for class jump. New Money Honey, one of four Chad Brown runners in field, is 2-for-2 on Belmont grass; very dangerous. Grizzel ships in from Canada after winning two in a row on Woodbine’s Polytrack; price will be tempting.

NINTH: Shaman Ghost is rested, training sharply and logs field’s fastest final figures on “A” game. Matt King Coal was a front-running winner in last and could prove very tough as the main speed once again. Sunny Ridge was a game second in Brooklyn Stakes last time; right in the thick of intriguing Suburban Handicap.

10TH: Ticonderoga was a tough-trip third in last and should be aided by today’s longer trip. Oscar Performance bested top selection by nearly two lengths when a wire-to-wire winner in last; very dangerous. Homesman gets Lasix for U.S. debut for Aidan O’Brien; must respect.

11TH: Pollock has worked three times since much-improved fifth in last start; more to come. Markitoff owns fast late-pace and final figures; very playable. Wingman has delivered strong efforts in both grass starts; very dangerous. Harlan’s Hunch is fleet-footed and can prove very tough on a soft lead.

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