Appealing Briefs (#12) is the horse to beat, but he’s clearly had his chances at this level. He continues to run well, but he’s been in a few spots where he really should have won. Now he’s drawn the outside post position in the 12-horse affair, and I’m inclined to take a shot against him.
The obvious alternative is Battle of Saratoga (#3), but I’m not totally convinced that this horse can transfer his dirt form to turf. Union Rags is not a strong turf sire, winning with just 5% of his starters on that surface. While there is some grass breeding on his dam’s side, his pedigree is not overwhelmingly geared towards turf.
If I’m taking a first time turfer, I want to bet CROSSWAYS (#1). This horse hinted at having real ability in his debut when he overcame slow break and three-wide trip to finish second. That performance was even better than it seems since there appeared to be a rail bias that day. I can forgive his subsequent performance going a mile since that was a strong field and the race turned out to be a demanding affair over a speed-favoring surface. This colt is undoubtedly bred for turf, being by 14% turf sire Quality Road out of a dam whose 3 wins all came on turf. He possesses the early speed to take advantage of his rail post position.
The other interesting horse to consider at a bigger price is La Manche (#11), who was completely eliminated rounding the far turn in his debut at Gulfstream. He appeared to be fading at the time, but would have finished much closer without that trouble. Bill Mott has decent numbers with second time starters in turf routes.
Exacta Key Box: 1 with 3,7,11,12