LORD COMMANDER (#3) is the kind of first-time turfer that intrigues me. First of all, he has plenty of pedigree to handle the surface. His sire, Giant’s Causeway, is a solid turf influence, and he’s a half-brother to graded stakes-placed turf horse Vivo Per Lei, with more turf in the second generation of his female family.
Now, some might say, “Why did Todd Pletcher not try him on turf sooner?” Well, for all we know, they could have always had turf in the back of their minds but had no reason to try it after he ran so well in his dirt debut. The 113 speed figure he earned in that first start suggested that he had stakes in his future. Unfortunately, things didn’t pan out on dirt, so now they’re going to Plan B. He figures to be ready to fire a good race off the layoff, since Todd Pletcher gets a 100 trainer rating with horses returning from breaks of this length. To my eye, this horse has an action that suggests he should take to the grass.
The Pace Projector is predicting that his early speed could make him awfully tough to catch, and I think he can pull off the minor upset at a square price.
Other runners that I would use include Aktabantay (#2), who was facing weaker last time but still came with a good late run and may have found a home sprinting on turf in this country; as well as Dowse’s Beach (#4) and Sandy’z Slew (#5), both of whom seem to have lost a step in 2016 and are taking needed drops in class here. I’m somewhat against Loose on the Town (#7), who doesn’t have that much turf pedigree and would need to improve on this surface to be a major factor.
Exacta Key Box: 3 with 2,4,5
Trifecta: 3 with 2,4,5 with ALL