This is the race that I’m most anticipating on the Thursday card, both as a racing fan and a horseplayer. There may be some real talent among the 2-year-olds in this group, and many have impeccable pedigrees to handle the route distance.
Todd Pletcher has entered two runners, and King for a Day (#3) figures to attract the most support. This Uncle Mo colt exits one of the fastest 2-year-old maiden races of the Saratoga meet. While he was no match for the impressive winner Complexity, he actually ran fairly well within the context of the race. Those vying for the lead were strung out across the track heading into the far turn, and King for a Day was widest of all around that bend. No one was able to make a significant closing move, but this colt actually stayed on well to get up for third. He’s bred to improve with added distance, and I think he’ll give a better account of himself here.
Pletcher’s other entrant Cousin Pete (#4) also has a chance to get involved. While he was well-beaten by eventual Hopeful runner-up Mucho in his debut, he was doing his best running in the final furlong and he galloped out strongly. The added ground figures to aid his chances. Even second time starter Kentucky Wildcat (#2) is in with a chance, as he never really had a chance to get involved in his debut, which featured a slow pace over a speed-favoring racetrack.
Among his intriguing, well-bred challengers is Tacitus (#5), a first-time starter out of champion Close Hatches. However, Bill Mott rarely wins with male youngsters in their debuts.
The horse I want to bet is WILL DANCER (#1), who comes out of a seven-furlong maiden race on Sept. 1. While he was well beaten that day, I thought he actually showed some ability despite his rider going to great lengths to give him an education. Will Dancer broke sharply, but Irad Ortiz took him back off the pace in a tightly bunched group heading down the backstretch. Having given up that forward position, he was subsequently shuffled back to last heading around the far turn. With nowhere to advance, Ortiz guided him to the rail, forcing him to take some dirt in his face. He squeezed through a narrow opening inside at the top of the stretch and then finished up very willingly while never threatening the top trio. He figures to improve with that experience under his belt, and he’s certainly bred to handle added ground.
Exacta Key Box: 1 with 2,3,4,6
Trifecta: 1 with 3,4 with 2,3,4,5,6,7