Pace Projector for this race favors runners on or near the early lead, which can be a problem if you find yourself liking the horse who figures to be last early, as we do. On the other hand, closer inspection of the runners with speed leads us to believe that there is a chance that none of them will be able to take advantage of this favorable scenario, and for that reason, we are sticking to our guns and making Hear the Footsteps our Top Play.
According to Pace Projector, Marriedtothemusic is fastest early (no argument from us) and will be on the early lead, with Morpheus, Spring to the Sky, and Carried Interest in closest attendance. Marriedtothemusic is indeed quite fast, and, assuming he brings his ample speed to the turf, we expect to see him leading the way. But he has never run on turf. Therefore, simply expecting him to switch over and be as effective on this surface as he is on dirt (where he is very effective) is a dangerous game to play, especially for a horse who is one of the favorites on the ML. Of his pursuers, Morpheus, a half-brother to the great Frankel, was never going to live up to expectations, but he’s been highly disappointing in two starts since arriving in Bill Mott’s barn and is a difficult horse for us to make a strong case for here with a chasing trip. Like Marriedtothemusic, Carried Interest is a complete unknown on grass, and he is not as talented as that rival, anyway. Spring to the Sky represents the most serious threat from up close, but he is not exactly a win machine, and when he has won, it has been in either wire-to-wire fashion (difficult to envision for him today) or by stalking a moderate pace, as he did in the Groovy stakes last September (also difficult to envision today).
All of that brings us back to #1 Hear the Footsteps, who is a talented NY-bred turf runner, one who we believe is at his best sprinting on the grass. He is 5-for-26 in his career, but he is 5-for-10 sprinting on the grass, and 0-for-16 (with 11 ITM finishes) when asked to go longer. His TimeformUS Speed Figures are among the best in this field, and he is cutting back today after trying the top NY-bred turf runners in training in the Kingston last month. He should be set for his best today as he makes his third start back from the layoff (trainer Linda Rice gets a splendid 94 rating in these situations).
Win bet on Hear the Footsteps.
Exactas using Hear the Footsteps with #s 4, 5, and 9.
Doubles from Hear the Footsteps to #s 2 and 5 in race #8.