Cartwheel (#2) is likely to go off as the favorite in this spot off the strength of her two most recent efforts sprinting. She destroyed an overmatched field in an off-the-turf race at Saratoga in August and then followed that with a solid runner-up performance at this level last time. On the surface, those efforts look pretty appealing, as she earned speed figures that would make her formidable against this group. However, I thought she had a very favorable trip last time, as fellow speeds conceded the lead to her through moderate fractions. This time, she’s going to have to rally from off the pace and I haven’t seen her overcome adversity in her prior starts. I’m somewhat against her this time.
Of the runners exiting that Oct. 14 race at this level, I actually prefer Noble Freud (#9). She was unwisely rated that day despite appearing to be the controlling speed. This time, she draws an advantageous outside post position, and Manny Franco should send her to the front, especially after the scratch of main pace rival Ribbonite.
Linda Rice has two entrants, both of whom are somewhat appealing. Shimmering Moon (#5) figures to be a bigger price, and she’s one that I would definitely use. Her trainer has solid numbers off trainer switches in dirt sprints and this mare has run races that would make her awfully tough in this spot. However, the layoff is a concern and her form prior to the break is of some concern.
I’m more interested in FLAT CALM (#3), who cuts back in distance after trying a mile last time. She actually ran very well within the context of that race, as she made the first move into an honest pace that fell apart. She also proved that she’s able to rate successfully, and she will likely have to do that again in this spot. Prior to that most recent start, she had wired a field off the layoff in September, beating the much-improved Starlite Mission, who went on to place in a stakes. I think Flat Calm is quick enough to handle six furlongs and she’s unlikely to be favored given the presence of Cartwheel.
Exacta Key Box: 3 with 5,7,9
Trifecta: 3 with 5,9 with 2,4,5,7,9