Expert (#1) is likely to attract plenty of support as he makes his first start off the claim for Jason Servis and Michael Dubb. This horse ran a competitive speed figure for his prior connections when winning an N2L claiming event by 6 lengths last time out, but that victory came going 9 furlongs. The cutback to a one-turn mile seems like a minor negative, but Jason Servis has been known to inject more speed into runners like this. I’m using him, but I think he could get overbet in this spot, and there are others coming into this race in solid form.
A wild card in this field is Starship Zeus (#5), who has recorded a string of speed figures that would beat this field. However, he is difficult to trust as he makes his first start in 9 months. Even when he was at his best, he was never a horse that liked to win races and his running style tends to put him at a disadvantage in races that lack pace. I’m using him defensively, but I could never pick him on top.
My top pick is PLAYWRIGHT (#3), who ran well at a similar level going 7 furlongs last time. He arguably could have won that race had he not gotten into trouble on the far turn. Attempting to move up between horses, he got caught in a tight spot and clipped heels. Manny Franco did well to stay in the saddle, and got him to rally again for second. I like the slight stretch-out to a mile, which has always been his best distance. The Danny Gargan barn has been doing quite well in recent weeks, and I think he has this horse in good form right now. Furthermore, he should not be hindered by rain in the forecast as a son of the slop-loving Super Saver.
Exacta Key Box: 3 with 1,4,5
Trifecta: 3 with 1,4,5 with 1,4,5,6,7