The Pace Projector is predicting a fast early pace, with speed likely to come from Grassady and Breeze Burner as well as potentially Wicked Macho and Rock Doc.
Breeze Burner (#8) is a somewhat difficult horse to assess in this race. Based on his last speed figure, he’s one of the top contenders, but that effort came against $20,000 claimers just six days ago. Gary Contessa is 0 for 12 over the past five years when running horses back off wins in fewer than 10 days. Furthermore, while there appeared to be some quality runners in that open claiming event, two of the main contenders failed to show up with competitive efforts, clearing the way for Breeze Burner. I think he’s in a tougher spot this time.
The horse to beat is probably The Caretaker (#4), who ran a winning race last time but did not get an ideal trip. He was shuffled back behind a slow pace early and had to wait for room on the turn before rallying inside late. He does have a tendency to hang at the end of his races and might have done so again last time. Nevertheless, he appears to be coming into this in good form. I’ll use him, but I prefer another runner out of that Feb. 19 race.
ALTESINO (#3) may be in better form than it appears. There were obviously some issues that kept him off the racetrack following his loss Aug. 24 at Saratoga, where he was hindered by a slow pace. Now he’s making his first start since last spring that hasn’t been preceded by a layoff. His most recent performance was actually a deceptively strong effort, as he made a premature wide move into contention on the turn after breaking slowly. This time, Dylan Davis can reserve him at the back of the pack and use his late kick to make one run. If the leaders go too fast early, expect him to be flying late.
Exacta Key Box: 3 with 4,8,10,11