Tommy Macho (#7) is the horse to beat if he returns in the form that carried him to a breakout win in the Fred Hooper back in February. That winning 126 speed figure marked his third straight number in the 120s, and he proved that he could handle a one-turn mile. The layoff should not be viewed as a major concern, since Pletcher gets a 100 trainer rating in these situations. My only problem is that I don’t think he’s going to be anything close to the 6/1 morning line. This race is crying out for a new face, and I imagine that many handicappers will flock to him.
For similar reasons, I’m not in love with the other “wise guy” horse, Ocean Knight (#1). Does anyone really think he’s going to be the same price as Baccelo here? Sure, I’d love him at 12/1, but don’t kid yourself; he’s going to be around half that price, and perhaps lower than that. He’s shown some promise, but he’d still have to run the race of his life to come out on top here.
Tamarkuz (#5) made an eye-catching late run in the Forego, and perhaps that effort signals that he’s back in form. After all, he ran pretty well in the 2015 Met Mile and was coming off a string of excellent efforts in Dubai prior to that. However, there have been so many layoffs, and he’s been plagued by inconsistency in this country, so I can’t fully trust him. I also don’t know that he’s going to get that much pace to close into here, and it seems that he’s lost much of the early speed that he once possessed.
Upstart (#6) has run just fine in two straight Grade 1 races, but he’s starting to run out of chances for me. Sure, a one-turn mile is probably his best distance, but what was his excuse not to beat Anchor Down in the Met Mile two back? Obviously, no one was beating Frosted, but I felt that he should have been at least second that day.
And that brings us to my pick, ANCHOR DOWN (#4).
I’ll make no bones about it: I’ve never liked this horse very much. However, I cannot deny that he’s taken a step forward since returning to New York this year and has become a better horse than I’ve given him credit for. Sure, some might say that his Westchester was a mud-aided performance, but it’s not as if this horse has ever liked a wet track before. He followed that up with a Met Mile performance that has too often been overlooked. He did all the dirty work that day and put away everyone in the field except Frosted while gamely holding on for second. The rail post position was his undoing in the Vanderbilt, as he was out of position the entire way. Today, there is not much speed, and he’s drawn outside of his only two pace rivals. I expect Javier Castellano to send him to the front, and I think he can beat this field at a square price.
Exacta Key Box: 4 with 1,5,6,7