Friday TimeformUS Highlight Horse: Quickly improving Sir Ballantine can handle the rise in class

Belmont Park | Race 7 | Post Time 6:18 p.m. (ET) | Go to the TimeformUS PPs

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The entry is going to be a very short price in this race. The one that they’ll be betting is Splashtastic (#1A), who is arguably facing a much easier field in his second start off the layoff. There were some talented runners, such as Sunny Ridge and Timeline, in his return race last time, and Splashtastic didn’t run that badly to be fourth. However, that feels like a race where a number of the expected favorites underperformed. Splashtastic has back races that would absolutely crush this field, but you have to wonder about whether he can get back to those efforts after taking a year off. Furthermore, the $62,500 claiming tag does not exactly inspire confidence that he’s going to take a step forward.

The likely second choice is Driven to Compete (#8), whose speed makes him dangerous. However, he’s run his best speed figures against vastly inferior competition and I find it curious that Pletcher has run him at Parx in two straight starts. He’s not for me. Realm (#2) is somewhat interesting, as he actually ran better than it seems in his last two dirt starts in Florida. However, he still may be a bit slow.

Since I don’t trust any of these horses, I’ve landed on the contender that I know is in great form. SIR BALLANTINE (#3) earned the highest last-out TimeformUS Speed Figure in the field (118) when beating allowance company last time, and horses have come back out of that race to validate the number. It’s not as if the pace of that race was particularly fast, and there’s an argument to be made that Sir Ballantine ran well within the context of the race as the only horse to make up any ground whatsoever. Perhaps the most appealing thing about this runner is his trainer’s record with last out winners. Over the past five years, Danny Gargan is 17 for 68 (25 percent, $2.68 ROI) with horses in dirt routes coming off wins.

THE PLAY

Win: 3

Exacta Key Box: 3 with 1,2,4,8

Trifecta: 1,3 with 1,3 with 2,4,7,8,9​

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