The two favorites are Papa Shot and Danebury. The former ran very well last time in his first start after being transferred back into Linda Rice’s care. One of the days that we observed a pronounced rail bias was Dec. 31, and Papa Shot was nearly able to win that race despite racing two-wide throughout. He figures to work out a good stalking trip again; he is a major threat.
I also have to use Danebury, the other short-priced runner. This horse beat an overmatched field of maidens last time, but he did it the right way, drawing off by 12 lengths while earning a competitive speed figure. He seemed to have no trouble handling the two turns and he’s been great for Gary Contessa. However, he does have to deal with the far outside post position, and I’m not so sure that he can get the better of the rival that beat him two back.
The runner that I want out of that Dec. 31 race at this level is JAMES LANE (#1).
There are two ways to look at James Lane’s last race: 1) He couldn’t make up ground in the stretch because he just didn’t handle the two turns. Or 2) His late run was muted when his rider was forced to angle him off the gold rail in the stretch. I tend to gravitate toward that second school of thought and believe that James Lane was also compromised by dynamics last time. Furthermore, this horse had previously run his two best races when he was ridden more aggressively. I certainly don’t mind the rider switch to Kendrick Carmouche, since he figures to use this horse’s speed from his inside post position.
Exacta Key Box: 1 with 7,10
Trifecta: 1 with 7,10 with 5,6,7,9,10
Trifecta: 1 with 5,6,9 with 7,10