This race should feature an honest early pace with stretching-out sprinters such as Stoney Bennett (#1) and Battle Station (#2) in the mix. I suppose Battle Station merits some respect off his blowout win in the Bertram F. Bongard. However, that was an oddly run race in which none of the other major players showed up and Battle Station was able to dominate on the front end, even though he was setting a legitimate pace. I think he’s going to encounter a much different scenario this time with the speedy Stoney Bennett drawn to his inside, and I don’t want him. Stoney Bennett is the one that I prefer of the two speeds, but I have some serious questions about him getting the distance.
I’m most interested in horses that should be coming from off the pace. The one to fear is We Should Talk (#8), who won his debut impressively in fast time, and goes out for a dangerous barn. I’ll be using him, but my top pick is BIG GEMMY (#3).
I really liked Big Gemmy’s maiden score at Saratoga two back, as he finished powerfully going seven furlongs. Notably, he’s the only horse in this race with experience going a route of ground on the dirt, having finished fifth in a pretty strong edition of the Grade 3 Iroquois last time. I thought he was somewhat tentatively ridden that day, as his rider appeared to give up too early. Big Gemmy was actually picking up pieces late in that race despite not being strongly urged. This time, Luis Saez is back aboard and he figures to work out a great closing trip.
At a much bigger price, I also want to use Evaluator (#11) somewhere. I don’t have a ton of confidence that he’ll turn out to be a dirt horse, but he is bred to handle it. He’s run well going longer, and his last two races have come against some solid competition.
Exacta Key Box: 3 with 1,2,7,8,11
Trifecta: 3 with 1,8,11 with 1,2,7,8,11