I found this to be the most confusing race on the card. Some may gravitate toward Dublinthepleasure (#2), who ran a competitive speed figure when losing by a neck against cheaper claiming foes last time. Third-place finisher Shalako did come back to win, but he did so under very favorable circumstances. I think this horse is unlikely to get another perfect trip, and I wan to look elsewhere. Rudy Rodriguez has two viable contenders.
I suppose Papa Shot (#9) will attract more support of the pair, as he earned a speed figure that would make him pretty formidable in this spot when last seen on Jan. 4. That race was around two turns, but he has been proficient going shorter in the past. While there is a strong case to be made for him, I don’t like the steady decline in class after the claim by Rudy. It’s been a while since he’s been actively involved in deep stretch, and I don’t have much faith that he still has the desire to compete.
I actually prefer Horoscope (#4) as he stretches back out in distance. I’ve always thought that a mile is a bit of a stretch for him, but he should work out a good trip stalking the pace, and he’s faced significantly tougher company in most of his recent starts.
I’m definitely using both of these horses, but my top pick is THREE TO THIRTEEN (#3). The Pace Projector is predicting a situation favoring horses on or near the lead, and one of the main pace players, Wicked Macho, is going to scratch and run on Sunday instead. That should leave Three to Thirteen in a position to control affairs up front, and he has been quite dangerous when afforded such an opportunity.
Three to Thirteen’s recent form may look spotty, but he actually ran very well three back after setting a swift pace, and he never had a chance when forced to rate in a fast-paced sprint last time. When he has been allowed to set pedestrian fractions, he’s proven difficult to catch.
Exacta Key Box: 3 with 1,2,4,8,9
Trifecta: 3 with 4,9 with 1,2,4,8,9