While this race did not draw a large field, it is nevertheless one of the more complicated handicapping puzzles of the day. There is no clear favorite in this contentious spot, in which any horse except Picture Day is a viable win candidate on the turf.
Quality Time (#5) is perhaps the horse to beat off her decent fourth-place effort in a similar spot at Saratoga last month. She has yet to dazzle in any of her U.S. starts, but she has consistently run well and seems to be in the best form of her career. I’m using her, but I’m more interested in another filly out of that Aug. 20 race.
BLACK CANARY (#2) was the clear favorite that day, and she ended up finishing last after an odd trip. She appeared to be sitting in a great spot stalking on the rail coming to the top of the stretch, at which point Jose Ortiz decided to sneak up the rail when a clear path opened up. Watching the head-on replay of the stretch drive, she apparently had running room for a good 150 yards, but she appeared to be somewhat reluctant to go through that hole. Then, at the eighth pole, the pacesetter shifted back inside, and she lost all interest as she steadied in tight quarters. I also wonder if the ground along that inner rail was not the best, as Black Canary seemed to slip a few times while kicking up large clods of turf, something that was not happening to those racing outside of her. I like her prior form, and I think she deserves another chance. Furthermore, the Pace Projector is predicting a situation favoring runners on or near the lead and she possesses the tactical speed to sit very close to the pace.
I’d also use Sugar Queen (#7) off the long layoff for Todd Pletcher. She ran deceptively well in the Jessamine last year and should appreciate the turnback to a sprint.
Exacta Key Box: 2 with 3,5,7
Trifecta: 2 with 5,7 with 3,4,5,7