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Steve Matthews’ Belmont selections for Sunday, May 29

Best Bet: SARATOGA SMOKE (7); Best Value: POLAR AXIS (6)

FIRST: Meet in Khartoum tallied improved final fraction when a game second in last. Nonna Jo needed last and could play out as the controlling speed with aggressive ride. Papa’s Missile also is fleet-footed and is training sharply for first start since June.

SECOND: Epping Forest debuts for Christophe Clement; call in wide-open, juvenile turf dash. Spellker has finished second at short odds in both starts; continues trend? Bahama Halo makes first start for Todd Pletcher; need more?

THIRD: Lotsa Noodles should pack enhanced kick with cutback to sprint. Pearls for Girls regressed in last after logging series of solid efforts; very dangerous. Saharan Serenade could impact if pace meltdown ensues.

FOURTH: Forever Plus tallied solid final fraction when winning turf debut last time; more to give. Amazing Anne drops back into claimers and makes third start of form cycle; very playable. Killarney Rose should be tighter after strong third in first start since seven-month layoff last time.

FIFTH: Forever d’Oro logged fast figs in both starts in Kentucky; crisp 5-furlong drill on May 23 seals the deal. Travis County has drilled three times since improved fourth in last; dangerous. Seat of Honor compiled solid work slate for 3-year-old debut; must consider.

SIXTH: Polar Axis projects as the speed of the speed with aggressive ride from the rail. Front should possess amplified late punch with cutback to 6 furlongs. Runaway Posse also packs solid kick and logged both lifetime wins on Belmont sod. Asset Inflation is speedy and owns fast figures; right in the thick of this.

SEVENTH: Saratoga Smoke is fleet-footed and training with a purpose for first start since November; call based on price potential. Forever for Always could be the prime beneficiary if fractions get fast and furious. Whimsey’s Girl exits sprints and should be favorably positioned near the front. Flattermefabulous owns a win and a second in two turf starts; must respect.

EIGHTH: Hereditary displayed improved speed last time and should be set for best in third race since eight-month absence. Three Fire Alarm is rested and owns a win and a second in two starts at Belmont Park; price will be tempting. Our Caravan also returns from freshener and consistently logs fast numbers.

NINTH: Antebellum notched rapid late pace figure when a game second last out; needs scratches to get in. Fringe Benefits makes first start with maiden-claiming tag and should pack intensified kick at 7 furlongs. Princessofthieves was a very strong second in last; logical, short-priced player. Sweet Ella, another that exits sharp placing in most recent outing, could easily take this with similar effort. Dean’s Ticket gets class relief and owns fast back numbers; don’t ignore.

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