Short Fields in Dwyer, Nerud at Belmont at the Big A; Odds, Picks

Short fields usually produce small payoffs.

And boy, oh boy did the two dirt stakes on the Belmont Derby Invitational (G1) undercard Saturday at Aqueduct ever come up short.

The $200,000 Dwyer (G3) at a mile attracted only a quartet of 3-year-olds. The John A. Nerud (G2) for older sprinters at 7 furlongs fared slightly better with a field of five.

Let’s not be too rough on the New York Racing Association. This is always a tough time of year to fill stakes races. Once the Belmont Stakes (G1) concludes, many of the top stables shift their attention largely to the lucrative stakes on tap during the Saratoga meet that launches on July 11.

That leaves the downstate horse-inventory cupboard rather bare.

The final Saturday of the meet also features a pair Grade 1s on the turf – the $750,000 Belmont Derby Invitational and the $500,000 Belmont Oaks Invitational.

If you are betting horse racing online, here’s an analysis of the Dwyer and John A. Nerud:

Domestic Product was no match for the up-and-coming Tuscan Sky when they met at Monmouth Park in mid-June in the Pegasus Stakes.

Domestic Product. Coglianese Photo.

Saturday marks the final Saturday at Belmont at The Big A

Tuscan Sky drew off to a 6 ¾-length win while Domestic Product was clearly best of the rest, finishing 4 ¼ lengths ahead of third-place finisher Hades.

It was Domestic Product’s first race since the Kentucky Derby (G1).  It certainly wasn’t his day at Churchill Downs. While Mystik Dan enjoyed a perfect ground-saving trip that produced the Derby win, Domestic Product found trouble at every turn. He was pinched back at the start, lost a shoe and eventually wound in the nine path. He finished 13th out of 20, almost 23 lengths behind the winner.

The comeback in the Pegasus was encouraging enough to stamp him the one to beat here as the 6-5 favorite. He battled four-wide for the lead and hung in gamely to secure the place spot.

Flavien Prat has the return call for trainer Chad Brown.

Hades is back for another crack at Domestic Product. Trainer Joe Orseno was quite confident going into the Pegasus. Except the race didn’t go according to script.

Both Domestic Product and Hades got toasted in the five-way speed duel as Tuscan Sky roasted the competition and kept right on going.

Orseno feels he might have over-coached jockey Paco Lopez by telling him to send Hades into the Pegasus fray.

“Paco said he wanted to take him out of there (the speed duel) really bad, but he wanted to listen to the instructions.”

Hades shining moment to this point was his victory in the Holy Bull (G3) at Gulfstream Park, a two-length score over familiar rival Domestic Product.

Save the Trees, 2-for-2 against lesser competition, and Billal complete the field.

The picks: 1 Domestic Product 2 Billal 3 Hades

Coastal Mission takes aim at the Nerud

It’s not often that horses from Charles Town make a splash on the New York circuit. Coastal Mission could be the exception to the rule that says West Virginia breds don’t stack up with the big boys.

He will likely be overlooked in this compact field, but we think there is potential value to be harvested.

Coastal Mission, trained by Jeff Runco, exits an excellent effort in Monmouth’s Salvator Mile (G3). The 5-year-old gelding pressed the pace and held on nicely for second.

The furlong cutback in the Nerud plays to his strength. He is 7-1-1 in nine career 7-furlong races.

Mullikin ships in from Kentucky in search of his first stakes victory for trainer Rudolphe Brisset. He arrives on a two-race winning streak with allowance victories at Keeneland and Churchill Downs.

Mullikin has a history of breaking slowly, which can compromise his chances. He has the best early speed in the field, making him the one to catch if he behaves himself.

Everso Mischievous returns to the scene of his graded stakes win last Fall: the Forty Niner (G2). The follow-up effort was disappointing as he ran 11th in Aqueduct’s Cigar Mile (G2) as the 5-2 favorite over a muddy track. That was his final outing of the season

His 2024 debut was a solid allowance victory at Churchill Downs.

The picks: 1 Coastal Mission 2 Mullikin 3 Everso Mischievous.

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