It will be interesting to see how the public bets this race, with contenders coming in from so many different directions. I suppose the horse to beat is Tommy T (#1), since he has earned superior speed figures to many of his rivals. This Shackleford gelding has been solid in every start of his career and figures to show up with yet another good effort. I’ve sometimes been wary of him since he’s needed so much time between starts, so it’s probably a good sign that he’s now putting races back to back. The major question for him is the distance, since he’s never gone farther than 7 furlongs. That said, the pace could be in his favor, since the Pace Projector is predicting that he should be able to secure a clear early lead. I’m using him, but I prefer others at slightly better prices.
Title Ready (#6) is one that must be included after his solid effort in the Grade 3 Discovery last time. That was a very small field, but he did finish ahead of Belmont Stakes runner-up Gronkowski. He earned a competitive speed figure for the performance, but I never thought he was a real threat to the geared-down winner that day. Furthermore, I get the feeling that he’s probably better around two turns.
Thebigfundamental (#8) is a wild card in this field. Todd Pletcher has fantastic numbers off layoffs in dirt routes, but his recent record with bringing back older horses like this is cause for concern. I’m leaving him out.
My top pick is SIR BALLANTINE (#8). I’m not sure that he’s going to get as much pace to close into as last time, but he does possess the ability to sit a bit closer to the pace if need be. They tried stretching him out over the summer, but he’s proven to be best going a mile around one turn. I thought he made a good late run at the improving Plainsman last time, and Danny Gargan’s runners have been firing on all cylinders lately.
Exacta Key Box: 7 with 1,5,6
Trifecta: 7 with 1,6 with 1,5,6,8