I found this to be one of the most interesting races on the card, as it features the return of the promising colt Blewitt (#8). He flashed some serious ability during the last winter meet at Aqueduct, falling just a neck shy of going undefeated through three career starts. Todd Pletcher has fantastic numbers off layoffs of 180 days or more in dirt routes (32 for 82, 39 percent, $2.63 ROI over five years), so this colt should be fit as he ships up from Florida. On the other hand, there are some very talented horses in this race who have run faster speed figures, and Pletcher has had a fairly disappointing meet. I’m slightly against him today.
J J’s Dreaming (#6) is probably the horse to beat. He’s just been a different horse since April, having earned a series of very fast speed figures while hitting the exacta in four straight starts. He couldn’t quite get to the talented Aveenu Malcainu last time, but I thought he ran very well in defeat considering the moderate pace of that race. If he shows up, he’s going to be a handful.
I’m using J J’s Dreaming prominently, but I’m most interested in FIERY OPAL (#2), who defeated him back in June. This horse did receive a pretty fast pace to close into that day, but I was nevertheless impressed with his relentless rally and powerful final furlong. The form of that race has only been flattered in subsequent months. J J’s Dreaming’s subsequent efforts are plain to see, while also-rans Honor Up and Discreet Mission would both go on to record improved speed figures in subsequent starts. It took this gelding a while to get back to the races following that win, but his connections are now trying to repeat the same pattern that led to that victory, as he runs back on 6 days’ rest following a race at Parx. While he didn’t run quite as fast in that Oct. 22 win, I like the tenacity he showed to rally in the final furlong after it appeared that he had run out of gas on the far turn.
Exacta Key Box: 2 with 3,6,8
Trifecta: 2 with 6,8 with 1,3,5,6,8