2023 Sheepshead Bay Stakes & Westchester Odds and Picks

Although attentions will be on Churchill Downs this weekend for the Kentucky Oaks and Kentucky Derby, there is a fantastic weekend of racing in store at Belmont Park. Two races headline this Friday’s card with the 2023 Sheepshead Bay Stakes & G3 Westchester Stakes.

Only five horses will head down to post for this year’s renewal of the Sheapshed, but despite the small field, it is a race loaded with quality.

The early favorite is the Christophe Clement trained Amazing Grace.

German bred, she spent her first few seasons’ running in her homeland before making the move to the States late last year. Her American debut was a winning one, winning the Grade 3 2023 Orchid Stakes in a thrilling finish. This will be just her second start, and there could be plenty more to come.

The Grade 3 Westchester Stakes will see eight horses head to post for this season’s contest.

Zandon has been installed as the favorite and will be having his first start of the year. A former Grade 1 winner, this last time last year he was running a huge race when finishing third in the Kentucky Derby. Having not been since the 2022 Cigar Mile Handicap, its hard to know how race fit he will be, but if he runs to form he should be the one the field needs to beat.

Sheepshead Bay Stakes

Grade 2, 1 mile and 3/8, Turf, open to fillies and mares aged four and over. Total prize pool: $200,000

In horse racing there are very few guarantees, but one thing is for certain in this 2023 Sheepshead Bay Stakes, the race will be won by either Chad Brown or Christophe Clement as they train the entire field of five.

When it comes to turf racing in America, it can be argued that there is no better trainer than Brown and it isn’t a surprise to see that he has won this race on five occasions.

Brown’s best chance in this year’s race looks to be with Higher Truth.

A five-year-old, her career has been stop / start. She has just had one run this year which came in the Grade 3 2023 Very One Stakes. She ran second that day, only finishing behind stablemate Mylady.

Considering she had been off the track for almost a year, her second-place finish represents a good piece of form. Clearly rusty, she ran on late and could be considered unlucky not to have won.

Whilst Mylady deserved her success in the Very One, her win was a bit of a surprise, and she won the race at a big price of +800. It was her debut run for Brown and only her second appearance since moving to America in 2022. Whether she will be allowed a soft time out in front this time around remains to be seen.

Rounding out the Brown trio is Virginia Joy. Her last piece of form also came in the Very One Stakes where she could only finish fourth. The favorite that day, she was unable to back up her win in the Grade 2 2022 Flower Bowl Stakes. Clearly a classy and capable horse, she won this race last year and could rate as a danger to all in the field.

Whilst Brown has enjoyed a stranglehold on the race in recent times, Christophe Clement knows what it takes to train a winner in this race. A four-time winner, he last won the race back in 2008.

He has a great chance of ending his fifteen-year drought with Amazing Grace. A graded performer when based in Europe, she announced herself on the American scene with a fine victory in the 2023 Orchid Stakes. Appearing on the scene late, she did her best work late on and looked full of running crossing the line. With the potential of more to come, she could be the one to back.

Rounding out the Clement challenge is Atomic Blonde. Also German bred, her form back in Germany was stronger than Amazing Grace but she could only finish third in the Orchid. Despite finishing third, she ran a good race and with her American debut now behind her, bigger and better things should follow.

2023 Sheepshead Bay Stakes Odds & Betting Pick

With just five runners in the field, this year’s Sheepshead Bay Stakes looks set to be one of the best races of the weekend. Chad Brown has dominated this race in recent years, and it wouldn’t be a surprise to see any of his three horses ending up in the winner’s circle. However, it’s hard not to have been impressed with Amazing Grace’s victory in the Orchid Stakes and with the potential of more to come she will start as our tentative selection.

HorseJockeyOdds by Jazzsports
Mylady (GER)Dylan Davis+350
Atomic Blonde (GER)Eric Cancel+600
Virginia Joy (GER)Jose Antonio Gomez+350
Higher Truth (IRE)Manuel Franco+250
Amazing Grace (GER)Kendrick Carmouche+160

Westchester Stakes

Grade 3, 1 mile, Dirt, open to horses aged four and over. Total prize pool: $175,000

Eight horses will head to post for this year’s Westchester Stakes, and it looks to be a wide-open renewal.

Chad Brown is hoping for a memorable Friday, and he saddles two in the race.

Zandon is likely to start the race as the favorite and he will be looking for his first win after going winless in his last five. Clearly a classy horse, he was able to finish third in last year’s Kentucky Derby and tasted success in the Grade 1 2022 Toyota Blue Grass Stakes. There will be question marks over his fitness as this will be his first run since December, but if he runs to form, he is likely to start as the one they will all need to beat.

Brown’s second string in the contest is Dr Ardito. It could be argued that there is no better horse in form as he has won his last six races. Whilst those wins have come at a lower level, he is certainly ready for a race of this type. He could start as the best value option.

Hoping to give the Brown horses something to think about is the Saffie Joseph trained White Abarrio. Similarly to Zandon, he has Grade 1 winning form in the book having won the 2022 Florida Derby but has found life tricky since that breakthrough success. Having gone six races without a win, he was able to get back on the winning trail with a win last time out back in claiming company. He arrives at this race fit, but worryingly has never won away from Gulfstream, his connections will hope that poor record changes this weekend.

Likely to round out the top three in the betting is the Jamie Ness trained Repo Rocks. A winner of four of his last five starts, his winning streak was snapped when he finished second in the Grade 1 2023 Carter Handicap. Despite finishing second, the margin of defeat was narrow, and he should be more than capable of winning a race of this nature.

The Todd Pletcher trained Expressman was last seen in that race and only finished just behind Repo Rocks. There was barely anything to separate them that day and at a price he could run a big race.

Rounding out the eight-runner field is Bourbon Calling, Unbridled Bomber and Weybourne – all will start the race as outsiders.

Westchester Stakes Odds & Betting Prediction

A fascinating renewal of the Westchester Stakes awaits, and this year’s contest looks wide open. It wouldn’t be a surprise to see Dr Ardito run well considering he has won his last six races, but Repo Rocks must be considered. Clearly in good form, his recent Grade 1 defeat in the Carter Handicap is still amongst the best recent form on offer and this drop back in class could prove to be well within his reach.

HorseJockeyOdds by Jazzsports
Bourbon CallingFeargal Lynch+1500
ExpressmanKendrick Carmouche+1200
Dr ArditoManuel Franco+600
White AbarrioPaco Lopez+300
Unbridled BomberMychel J. Sanchez+800
WeyburnTrevor McCarthy+800
ZandonDylan Davis+200
Repo RocksRuben Silvera+450

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