Of those with experience, Racing Raven (#3) is likely to attract the most support. This Repole Stable homebred broke a tad slowly in his debut and made up a bit of ground late to finish fifth. He’s the horse to beat off that performance.
Of those who have run, I actually prefer the more seasoned St. Augustine (#5). I think this colt has more ability than he’s been displaying in the afternoons, and he hinted at that again last time when making his first start with blinkers. He got away a length or two behind the field but quickly rushed up into contention before becoming rank when unable to make the lead. Provided he breaks cleanly here, I’d like to see Martin Garcia send him so that he can get a clear run throughout. He’s certainly one to use, but my top pick is actually a first-time starter.
SPLIT VERDICT (#2) has all the makings of a good horse. He’s a full sibling to multiple sprint-stakes winner Sweet On Smokey, a $465,000 earner, and his second dam was the brilliant Danseuse, a sparkling winner of both of her career starts at Belmont in 1996. Split Verdict showed some of that speed when he worked two furlongs in 21 1/5 seconds at the OBS sale last year. He’s sent out by a barn that knows how to win with debut runners (100 TimeformUS Trainer Rating), and especially with those who take significant money. Over the past five years, Rick Violette is 7 for 19 (37 percent, $2.18 ROI) with first-time starters on dirt at NYRA tracks who go off at less than 3-1 odds.
Exacta: 2 with 3,5,6,7
Trifecta: 2,5 with 2,3,5 with 2,3,5,6,7