2023 John A Nerud & Dwyer Stakes Odds

There’s plenty to occupy the mind at Belmont Park on Saturday, with a tight field of sprinters in the feature G2 2023 John A Nerud headed by G3 winners Candy Man Rocket and Little Vic, who take on Weyburn on his first start for his top-rank barn. The undercard is headed by the G3 Dwyer, in which G3 winner Joey Freshwater and G2-placed Fort Bragg go up against some very promising stakes debutants.

Breeders Cup Odds

John A Nerud

G2, $250,000, 7f dirt, 4yo+, 5.19pm ET

Twelve months ago the top-notcher Life Is Good was long odds-on when beating just three rivals in the John A. Nerud, but this Saturday there’s more of a contest for the feature at Belmont Park, a much more exciting race in store.

Todd Pletcher has won the Nerud for the last two years and relies on Weyburn, who makes his debut for the barn after switching from Jimmy Jerkens, which is likely a positive for the horse’s chances.

Weyburn has been frustratingly inconsistent, hasn’t won at Graded level since March 2021, has only won two races at Gulfstream Park in the last two years, and was beaten six lengths into third in the G3 Westchester Stakes here over a mile last time. This distance suits better but the barn move will really have to rekindle a spark – which, of course, it may well do.

A blowout in the G3 Count Fleet Sprint at Oaklawn Park snapped a three-race streak for Candy Man Rocket, but he bounced back with a career-best to take the G3 Runhappy here over six furlongs, going away at the finish to beat Twisted Ride by a length and a half. That may be his best distance, but he has nevertheless posted an easy score over seven furlongs and should be somewhere near the speed.

That was the Graded-stakes debut for Twisted Ride, who had previously run up a four-timer at Parx, culminating in a state-bred stakes over today’s distance. At this level, distance-wise, six may be his number.

Little Vic was in peak form through the winter but it all went wrong when he bled and finished last in the G1 Carter at Aqueduct. That was a very fast race, which may partly have been the cause, and he has reportedly gone clean in workouts since then – but if a horse bleeds once he’s statistically more likely to do it again. The form of his G3 Tom Fool win at the Big A gives him a big shot here, but bettors should beware all the same.

He hasn’t been here since finishing third in the 2021 edition of this race but Three Technique has never missed the board in six starts at Belmont, a notable feat. He comes off a rare win in a Churchill Downs allowance but seems to be more comfortable at a mile, while Sheriff Bianco has hit the board in his last 13 starts but takes a big class hike, and didn’t look ready for it in two recent runs at stakes level.

The old-timer Synthesis is zero-for-11 in stakes, and while there’s that line about old dogs and new tricks, he did take an allowance over course and distance two starts ago and could be useful underneath.

2023 John A Nerud Odds & Betting Pick

HorseJockeyHorse Racing Odds by Jazzsports
Candy Man RocketJunior Alvarado+200
Three TechniqueJavier Castellano+500
WeyburnJose L. Ortiz+350
Twisted RideAndy Hernandez+600
Little VicCarlos Olivero+300
Sheriff BiancoJose Lezcano+1000
SynthesisManuel Franco+1500

The one with fewest questions about him is CANDY MAN ROCKET, who ran a lifetime best here last time and will have no problem stretching back out.

Dwyer Stakes

G3, $200,000, 1m dirt, 3yo, 3.41pm ET

There are reputations to be rebuilt and also made in the Dwyer, a wide-open contest in which only one of the half-dozen runners has been successful at stakes level.

The name in that particular frame is Joey Freshwater, who stamped his authority on the seven-furlong G3 Bay Shore at Aqueduct in April, rolling to a comfortable score with Prove Right – zero-for-nine in stakes, and hard up against it on that metric – dropping out to be sixth, beaten more than ten lengths, after posting the early fractions.

However, Joey Freshwater has failed to build on that in two starts at stakes level at this circuit, finding it all happening too quickly over six furlongs before running a shocker on the lawn, beaten a city block into fifth and presumably ending the turf experiment for good. The question is the mile for the first time – he got the seven well enough but it’s obviously a concern.

This is a healthy dose of class relief for Fort Bragg, who is back with Bob Baffert now and gets blinkers for the first time since breaking his maiden with them on. That alone is a green light, but add that to his second-spot in the G2 Pat Day Mile at Churchill Downs last month, caught late and beaten a neck, and his fair showing when fifth behind Forte and Mage in the G1 Florida Derby at Gulfstream Park, and his chance is obvious and gilt-edged.

Half the field are making their stakes debut, and there’s plenty of potential among them. Saudi Crown is unbeaten in two, following an easy Keeneland score over six furlongs on debut with a convincing gate-to-wire display at Churchill Downs over six and a half. He stretches out now and goes Lasix-free for the first time, but is full of promise and comes from the right barn.

Harrodsburg got it right first time at Aqueduct over six and a half, pushing gate-to-wire for a comfortable score, and then went down fighting in an allowance here at the same distance, duelled out of it by a nose with the third horse a long way back. The same applies as to Saudi Crown – stretching out, no meds – and Harrodsburg will have learned plenty from that tough race, and could make considerable improvement.

It took a lot longer for Alternate Reality to get going, but he cracked that nut on his fourth start over seven furlongs at Aqueduct and then moved right up, producing a buzzer-beating finish to nail an allowance over course and distance by a head. He is more exposed than the other two stakes debutants, but there’s no doubt about the distance and he’s upgrading nicely.

2023 Dwyer Stakes Odds & Betting Prediction

HorseJockeyHorse Racing Odds by Jazzsports
Prove RightJoey R. Martinez+1500
Saudi CrownJavier Castellano+200
HarrodsburgManuel Franco+350
Alternate RealityJacqueline A. Davis+800
Fort BraggJohn R. Velazquez+160
Joey FreshwaterJose L. Ortiz+600

The triple threat posed by FORT BRAGG – class relief, blinkers on, back with Baffert – is impossible to ignore and he can finally break through at this level.

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