Port Arch (#2) figures to be a strong favorite in this spot off a runner-up finish at this level in his first start on dirt. If he merely repeats that performance, he is a likely winner of this race. On the other hand, the pace of that race was falling apart in the late stages, and one could argue that Port Arch was just picking up pieces in the final furlong. I think he’s the horse to beat, but I’m not convinced that he’s a great bet in this race.
I actually prefer the probable second-choice, BAREFOOT ANGEL (#6). While he’s coming out of a weaker race than the favorite, I think he was compromised by tactics last time. Rather than aggressively send him to the front, as Manny Franco had done in his prior start, Rafael Hernandez chose to rate Barefoot Angel last time and I’m not sure that he responded as well to those tactics. This horse’s weapon is his speed and the tentative ride he received in that last start may have compromised his chances. He actually ran reasonably well two back despite finishing sixth, since that race fell apart in the late stages after swift early fractions. Now, trainer Charlton Baker puts blinkers back on this son of Pomeroy, and apprentice rider Luis Reyes certainly knows how to send a horse to the front. Barefoot Angel is faster than his main rivals in this spot, and I think he’s a threat to wire the field.
The others that I would include are Our American Star (#3) and Shipsandgoods (#4), but they’re far less trustworthy than the two favorites.
Exacta Key Box: 6 with 2,3,4