Par (#7) and Summer True (#8) are the runners that most horseplayers will lean on, but do you really trust either one at relatively short prices? Par was facing a tougher field in his only turf start and he earned a field-best speed figure of 80, but he didn’t do much running in that race, and Todd Pletcher was not at all hesitant to risk him in $25,000 claiming races all winter. Summer True has some pedigree, though it’s not necessarily strong breeding for grass. Christophe Clement does very well with first-time starters, but it’s always suspicious to see a $200,000 auction purchase in for a $40,000 claiming tag in his debut.
Frat Brat (#1) showed nothing in his debut and doesn’t have much pedigree for the turf, but some may think he has a right to do better in his second start for Jason Servis. Wizard of Id (#2) didn’t actually run that badly in two starts as a two-year-old, but Bruce Levine is not known for winning off layoffs like this one.
One of the more interesting possibilities is Cuckoo’s Saloon (#6), who is a half-brother to multiple turf winner Fiddlers Cat. He’s shown nothing so far on the dirt, but he does have speed and could take these a long way on the front end. However, we have our sights set on an even bigger long shot.
It’s not too often that we find the opportunity to make a case for a horse that is pegged at 50/1 on the morning line, but this one appears to have a legitimate chance to win today.
In a race lacking horses with proven turf form, SCARSELLETTA (#5) ran some of the best turf races of any runner in this field as a two-year-old while facing tougher maiden special weight company. Furthermore, he has not gotten ideal trips in his last two grass starts. On November 5, after being taken well off the pace after a rough start, he was commencing a mild rally in upper stretch when he was ridden right into the back of some tiring foes, causing his rider to steady sharply. Then on November 29, he was once again steadied when nearly hitting the rail coming off the far turn. That 76 speed figure is the second-highest turf figure earned by any runner within the main body of this field. We wish a more reliable rider had been named, but you often have to take the good with the bad and just hope for the best when you’re picking long shots.
Exacta Key Box: 5 with 1,2,6,7,8