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Steve Matthews’ Belmont selections for Saturday, Oct. 29

Best Bet: ALTAR BOY (5)

Best Value: HOPPER DROPPER (10)

FIRST: He’s Cheeky raced wide in the mud last time but tallied solid late-pace figure on turf in debut; surface switch is the key. Shamsaan failed to beat a horse in same last race as top selection on Oct. 1; bounce-back threat with return to grass. Oiseau de Guerre returns to maiden ranks after tough-trip sixth in Pilgrim Stakes last time; very dangerous.

SECOND: Carnarsie Kid was a fast-figured, front-end winner in last; pairs up. Aktabantay drops and makes second start since three-month layoff; improvement expected. Bow Tie Affair makes peak outing of form cycle; price should be generous.

THIRD: Macho Dancer fired 5-furlong bullet since speed and fade in debut; improvement predicted for potent second-out stable. Lead Astray has worked four times since failing to impact in first start; forward move expected. Into the Breach shows a work slate that culminated with best-of-67 half-mile drill; follow the money.

FOURTH: Rachel’s Temper was over her head in Beldame last time but logged fast-figured win in previous start; rebounds. Lewis Bay is fresh, training sharply and will be favorably positioned near the front; dangerous. Eskenformoney is more than good enough on “A” effort.

FIFTH: Altar Boy notched two bullet works since handy win in last; more to give. Grand Sky logged two of three career wins on Belmont sod; very playable. Little Popsie could play out as the dominant speed in first start since moving to Steve Asmussen stable.

SIXTH: Harlan’s Harmony was done in by pace pressure last time after winning first two starts; gets back on track today. Royal by Nature also won first two career outings before regressing in last; very dangerous. Bonus Points returns to grass after determined maiden win on dirt last out; right in the thick of this.

SEVENTH: Shades of Night was compromised by wide trip when a better-than-it-looks fourth in debut; more to come. Oxford Circus gets the meds and fired 5-furlong bullet on Oct. 15; big-time threat. Adonis Creed compiled eye-catching work tab for debut; could be the goods.

EIGHTH: Storm Prophet is rested, makes first start since gelded and notched rapid final fraction after similar layoff at Spring/Summer meeting. E J’s Legacy is riding a forward line on the numbers and returns to grass for Linda Rice; dangerous. Ordinaire is speedy and should be aided by cutback to shorter distance.

NINTH: Green Gratto is fleet-footed and starts from the fence and could get early jump in contentious Bold Ruler Handicap. Economic Model is firing bullets for first start since August and has shown a history of delivering strong efforts off the bench; very playable. Stallwalkin’ Dude packs solid late kick and holds razor-sharp form; right in the thick of this.

TENTH: Hopper Dropper displayed improved speed in last and could be sitting on career best in wide-open nightcap. Slapstick owns fast figures but has failed as the favorite in last three starts; you’ve been warned. Beneficial Risk is from a dam that’s thrown two grass winners; worth long look at long price. Colonel Andy was third in key race last time; big-time player. Catapult Jack was a game second in last; must be considered if able to escape AE list.


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