War Canoe (#5) deserves respect as she makes her first start since enjoying a revelatory Aqueduct fall meet. This mare really seemed to be in sync with rider Dylan Davis and relished the Aqueduct turf. She loses Davis for this race but is back on her favorite surface. The only knock against her is that she tends to drop well out of contention early in her races and will require some luck to get up for the win. She’s also facing a few more formidable foes than those she met last year.
One runner who fits very well from a class perspective is my top pick, ZENBENNIE (#3). This filly was somewhat of a surprise winner when last seen on this circuit in August at Saratoga. However, she has vastly improved since that time. She followed up that performance by contesting two stakes, and she actually held her own despite going off at long odds each time. Her effort Sept. 30 at Laurel was especially encouraging, as she finished just a few lengths behind proven open-stakes horses Queen Caroline and Armoire after setting the pace. I’m confident that her final two turf efforts of 2017 surely would put her in the winner’s circle against this group. Her biggest hurdle may be the presence of Grandpa’s Arianna to her inside since both appear to have speed. Yet Zenbennie should be a square price, so she’s undoubtedly worth the risk.
I’ll use her with War Canoe, and I also want to elevate Hardly Mate (#6), who appeared to return to top form last time at Gulfstream and goes out for dangerous turf trainer Mike Maker.
Exacta Key Box: 3 with 1,4,5,6
Trifecta: 3 with 5,6 with 1,4,5,6