Combat Controller (#3) and Special Story (#2) each figure to attract support here as they move up into this starter allowance off wins against claiming company. Combat Controller really improved off the claim by Rudy Rodriguez last time, as he gamely turned away all challengers before holding off the late surge of Praetereo. I think he’s the horse to beat, but Rudy doesn’t have great numbers second off the claim with horses coming off wins. Special Story ran even faster last time out, but his win appeared to be aided by a slow and uncompetitive early pace. He also ran that race for the Robertino Diodoro barn and now makes a negative move to Oscar Barrera III.
I could use both of these runners defensively, but the horse I want to bet is SIR BALLANTINE (#4).
The Pace Projector is predicting a fast pace, and Sir Ballantine is one of the horses in this field who has shown the ability to effectively pass horses. He’s spent the majority of his career running in longer races, primarily around two turns. However, a quick early pace here should bring him into the race late and allow him to make use of his superior stamina. Furthermore, he gets a trainer change to Danny Gargan, who has done very well in this situation. Over the past five years, he is 7 for 21 (33 percent, $3.70 ROI) with horses off a trainer switch and coming off layoffs of 90 days or more on the dirt.
Exacta Key Box: 4 with 2,3,5