Souperfast (#4) is supposed to be the favorite off his dominant win at this level last time out. He was allowed to dictate terms on the front end that day, but he actually set a legitimate pace in doing so and beat a solid field. He must stretch out to 1 1/8 miles here, but he has done well going this far in the past. If he repeats that last effort, he is very likely to notch another win. I’m definitely using him, but I think he will face a legitimate challenge from the likely second choice in the wagering.
EKHTIBAAR (#3) gets back on the turf for the first time since he made his debut as a 2-year-old nearly 3 years ago. I can see why they ran him on dirt so many times in the interim, since he clearly has some ability over that surface. However, this move back to turf makes sense now that they have reached his ceiling on the main track. He has plenty of pedigree to handle grass. His dam was a multiple turf winner who was Group 2-placed in England, and she is also a full sister to a turf stakes winner in Europe. This horse has proven that he can handle the distance on dirt, so he clearly possesses the requisite stamina to excel going this far on the turf. Chad Brown had no choice but to run this son of Bernardini on the dirt when he returned last winter, but he has now been trying to get Ekhtibaar back on turf for more than 2 months. I’m generally not thrilled with horses switching surfaces this late in their careers, but Chad Brown knows what he’s doing in these situations.
Exacta Key Box: 3 with 4,6,7
Trifecta: 3,4 with 3,4 with 1,6,7