Gio d’Oro (#5) is the horse to beat off his two solid efforts since returning from the layoff this past fall. He hinted at having improved with maturity in his performance on turf two back, and he confirmed that last time, leading all the way before getting passed by the classy Testosterstone in the late stages. While he is clearly among the most naturally talented runners in this race, he does have a few additional hurdles to clear this time. He obviously prefers a wet dirt surface, so he must prove that he is as proficient over fast going. Furthermore, it’s unclear if the stretch-out around two turns will work in his favor, whereas some others are already proven at this distance.
One of his main rivals is Storm Prophet (#7), who cleared this level more than a year ago. He’s been facing tougher open-allowance foes ever since, with mixed results. I generally do not like Linda Rice dropdowns, and this horse is coming off his worst effort of the season.
I would rather support a runner in good form, so I’m taking a shot with SINGAPORE TRADER (#6). I realize that he’s been defeating softer fields than his two main rivals in recent starts, but I like the way he’s coming into this race. He was a game winner two back, albeit with a perfect trip, and he ran an improved speed figure when trouncing overmatched foes last time. What could give him the edge here is the stretch-out to nine furlongs since I believe he’s better suited to handle the distance than the aforementioned pair. He ran one of the best races of his career in the Albany going this trip, and he’s arguably improved since then. With little speed signed on in this spot, he should sit a perfect trip stalking Gio d’Oro, and I believe he can outstay that rival.
Exacta Key Box: 6 with 2,5,7
Trifecta: 6 with 5,7 with 1,2,4,5,7