I am most definitely afraid of recent maiden winner Mollica (#3), who looked to be every bit of a stakes-quality runner when winning his maiden last time, earning an impressive 106 TimeformUS Speed Figure. Although Linda Rice is known for winning second time out, she does quite well with horses coming off maiden wins as well (93 TimeformUS Trainer Rating). The only major knock against him is that he beat a field of turf horses last time and gets tested for class today. Furthermore, you have to be somewhat concerned about the pace of this race, since the runners drawn just outside of him, Carradine and Haul Anchor, also figure to show speed. The TimeformUS Pace Projector is predicting a fast pace, which may help to set things up for a late-runner.
Given a short price on the aforementioned runner, I prefer late-runner BOURBON EMPIRE (#2). I really liked his performance last time, where he was the only horse to make a serious stretch bid behind the talented Gold for the King, who returned to improve his speed figure in his subsequent start. Bourbon Empire finished off that race as if more ground should be no issue, and he’s certainly bred to handle the distance. His dam is a half-sister to multiple graded stakes-placed router Z Fortune, and she has produced six-time route winner Lutheran Miss. This son of Majestic Warrior showed more speed in his debut effort, so it’s not as if he needs the pace to completely fall apart in order to be effective.
In exotic wagers, I would also use logical contenders like Voodoo Song (#1), who may prefer turf but nevertheless ran well enough in his dirt debut; and Tellmeafookystory (#6), who was overmatched in the Grade 2 Remsen last time but had previously been competitive against New York-bred stakes company. On deeper trifecta tickets, I could also throw in Carradine (#4), who benefitted from riding a gold rail last time, but has undoubtedly improved since being stretched out in distance. Even longshot D’yer Mak’er (#7) is not without a chance to get a piece of this as he may appreciate the added ground despite having run his best races on turf.
Exacta Key Box: 2 with 1,3,6
Trifecta Key Box: 2,3 with 2,3 with 1,4,6,7