At first glance the four main contenders in this race appear to be pretty difficult to separate. Three of them exit the same race on Sep. 27 in which Plainsman beat them all by a large margin. The winner returned to defeat a tougher group of allowance horses with a strong speed figure next time out.
Point to Remember (#3) finished closest to Plainsman that day and did so without the benefit for a perfect trip. Sep. 27 was another day during the Belmont meet where the main track seemed to favor horses that rode the rail, and he chased 2- to 3-wide throughout. I thought he ran a much better race the Storm Prophet, who came up the rail. Point to Remember has run some of his best races going this distance around two turns, and I think he’s the horse to beat.
Storm Prophet (#2) may go favored off the strength of his last speed figure, but he got another perfect trip in that race and I feel that Sargeant Drive (#6) actually ran better. Both can win here, but I don’t love either one.
I want to bet MR. BUFF (#5). He’s been a difficult horse to pin down all year long, but I think this race could play to his strengths. He’s always been the type of runner that can carry his speed a route of ground when he’s allowed to set his own pace. That was readily apparent back on Aug. 22 at Saratoga when he destroyed a group of overmatched rivals going today’s distance around two turns. He actually ran a bit better than it seems in that Sep. 27 race, as he had to rush up to take the lead after a poor start, and raced 2-wide throughout. Rather than advancing to that Oct. 21 race against Storm Prophet, his connections instead opted to try to the Empire Classic. That race attracted a pretty salty field and Mr. Buff did well to hang on for third after contesting the pace. I think it’s notable that two of his best recent efforts have come at the 9-furlong distance. He is faster than Hollywood Strike and Point to Remember early, so he figures to make the early lead comfortably and that could make him difficult to reel in.
Exacta Key Box: 5 with 2,3,6
Trifecta: 5 with 3,6 with 2,3,6