Veronesi – Belmont – Race 9 – Grade 3 Poker Stake (8 furlongs on turf) – 5-year-old gelding by Kendargent out of Verone, formerly trained by Jean-Claude Rouget
Ex-French gelding who has won three of his eight starts, all in 2019. The immediate thing that stands out here is that this horse has not run since 2019, and returns here after 644 days off the track. You can probably take a couple of views here: either he will be nursed back into action so as to not exacerbate the problems he has clearly had, or he will be hard fit as connections look to capitalise while he is fit and sound. Having unfortunately watched a horse that was returning from a 639 day lay-off pull up injured at Pontefract as I am writing this, it is obviously a huge risk to be betting on a horse with this kind of profile. Veronesi’s last run was a solid effort in a Grade 2 when acting as a pacemaker for Arc-winning stablemate Sottsass, but he is a solid enough horse without ever breaking through at Stakes-level. That said, owner Peter Brant is likely to have the favourite here in the deep-closing Raging Bull, and you’d have to imagine that Veronesi is going to fulfil a pacemaking role again here. This will tell us more about where he stands, and how much ability he retains, but he is impossible to recommend from a wagering perspective
Charmed – Monmouth Park – Race 7 – 47.5k Allowance (5.5 furlongs on turf) – 3-year-old colt by Charm Spirit out of Sterling Sound, formerly trained by Joseph O’Brien
A winner of one of his seven starts. Consistent colt who won a Dundalk maiden over 5f last winter in a decent time. Quickly away when scoring there, but missed the kick next time when beaten favourite over the same course and distance. He had been running well prior to his maiden win, but that performance is a standout on the numbers and he looked as though he might be minor Stakes class there, storming clear of his field. He is yet to win on turf but seems to handle slow going (placed on heavy), although quick ground would be a question mark. Charmed has a couple of nice bullet works to his name in the last few weeks and probably doesn’t fit too badly in a typical race at this level on that peak, standout effort, although he probably needs to improve a little if stablemate Fauci brings his A-game.