Hay Field (#6) is obviously the horse to beat as she returns from a brief layoff. Since getting claimed by her current connections last February, this mare has won five of her last seven starts, with her only off-the-board finish coming most recently in the Empire Distaff Handicap. She was facing a particularly tough field that day and was asked to travel a distance that is clearly farther than her best trip. This turnback to six furlongs makes plenty of sense, and she’s already won at today’s optional-claiming level. The major concern is the layoff since horses like this don’t always get back to their better races. It’s also worth pointing out that she may not receive the right setup this time.
The Pace Projector is predicting a situation favoring horses on or near the lead, and Hay Field is a confirmed closer. I’m very interested in FILIBUSTIN (#5), who is predicted to lead this field through the early stages. It appears that this mare was a private purchase after her excellent fourth-place finish in last October’s Iroquois.
Filibustin has been given very few opportunities to run against statebreds since she was a 2-year-old, but she clearly responded well to the return to those ranks last time out. Horses like Highway Star and Satisfy are legitimate stakes performers, and Filibustin ran very competitively against them given the honest pace that she contested. She put away the fellow longshot whom she dueled with through the early stages and gamely battled on in the lane despite getting squeezed out at the eighth pole. A repeat of her 111 TimeformUS Speed Figure in that race would make her formidable here. I agree with the Pace Projector that she is faster than rivals Estilo Femenino (#2) and Short Kakes (#4), and six furlongs is the perfect distance.
Exacta Key Box: 5 with 2,3,4,6
Trifecta: 5,6 with 5,6 with 2,3,4