Steve Matthews’ Belmont selections for Friday, May 5

Best bet: MASON MANIA (2)

Best value: SUCCULENT (9)

FIRST: Son of a Birch compiled tight work tab for first start since gelded and adding Lasix; breakthrough predicted. Cumberland earned fast figures in both starts; logical contender. Flat Top Box debuts for potent first-out barn; follow the money.

SECOND: Mason Mania should pack amplified kick with cutback to mile. Safalow’s Mission should be ideally positioned near the front; dangerous. Datesfreedom regressed in last after improved-figure fourth in prior; price will be tempting.

THIRD: Crack the Code is rested and training consistently; rates close call in compact field. Predicted drops and owns fast numbers on best efforts; big-time player. West Star was a sharp second in last; must consider.

FOURTH: Amazing Grace has worked three times since determined win in stateside debut last month; takes another. Higher Truth logged all three wins on Belmont turf; worth long look. Atomic Blonde could prove very tough on a soft lead.

FIFTH: Art of Courage projects as the speed of the speed with aggressive ride in turf debut. Kreesa could be sitting in the garden spot if top selection gets caught in front-end duel. Scherzando is another that will be aided if pace meltdown ensues.

SIXTH: Improper was freshened after 10-length maiden score eight weeks ago; picks up where he left off. John’s Protege could be ideally positioned in the stalker’s seat. Jester’s Song packs potent late kick on best efforts; don’t overlook.

SEVENTH: Sonic Speed logged four tight works last month for first start since December; ready. Deep Cover, an uncoupled barn mate (Tom Morley) of top selection, was a front-running winner on Belmont grass last spring; very playable. Eddie the Great could impact if fractions get hot and hectic.

EIGHTH: White Abarrio has trained strongly since impressive win in key race at Gulfstream last out; keeps on giving. Expressman is fleet-footed and has top-notch, front-end rider aloft; dangerous. Dr Ardito hails from Chad Brown barn and owns six wins and a second from seven starts; hard to toss.

NINTH: Succulent exits tough-trip fourth in last; forward move predicted in second start since six-month absence. Robyn and Eli finished second in both starts on Belmont sod; more of the same? My Angel moves to grass for Mike Maker; very interesting. Big Hazel is from a dam that has produced a turf winner; don’t ignore.

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