Solid Wager (#4) is the horse to beat as he attempts to follow up on his Grade 3 Toboggan win with an optional-claiming victory. While he’s apparently the class of this field off that latest triumph, he must prove that he’s as proficient going a mile. This 11-time winner is 0 for 13 at today’s distance. Furthermore, he benefited from a fast early pace when he won the Toboggan and may have taken advantage of two rivals who were not quite at the top of their game. Skyler’s Scramjet has been vulnerable when asked to travel 7 furlongs, and Gold for the King seemed to react poorly to running back on short rest. I’m using this horse, but I think he’s a beatable favorite.
Stan the Man (#6) seems to be the main rival after defeating a weaker group at 1 1/8 miles last time out. He put forth a respectable effort in the Cigar Mile two back, though the form of that race has not exactly withstood further scrutiny. I think a one-turn mile is the right distance for him, and he has run some of the field’s fastest speed figures, but I have yet to see him actually defeat a field of this quality. I’m using both of these runners, but I think this race is more wide open than it initially appears to be.
The Pace Projector is predicting that as many as three horses could show speed. However, I think one in particular is well positioned to secure the most favorable trip.
HIT IT ONCE MORE (#7) drew very well, outside of runners like Exulting and Stan the Man. Neither of these is a need-the-lead type, so he should be able to angle over in front of them. Hit It Once More is always best when he can secure the lead, and Rafael Hernandez has ridden him effectively from gate to wire in the past. His most recent effort was much better than it seems given the fast pace, and I thought he did well to hang on until the final furlong. When he was in top form last time, he ran TimeformUS Speed Figures of 118 and 119, which are as good as any of his rivals in this field. Going all the way back to February 2018, he won a race over this track and distance with Hernandez up in front-running fashion. I expect him to receive a similarly aggressive ride once again, and a possible wet track should only aid his cause.
Exacta Key Box: 7 with 2,4,5,6
Trifecta: 6,7 with 6,7 with ALL