Despite the fact that it only drew five horses, I found this to be one of the tougher races on this card. Fox Red (#3) has to be considered the horse to beat as he drops in class after facing tougher open-claiming foes last time. He didn’t run particularly well in that Dec. 28 race, but it’s possible that he didn’t care for the sloppy, sealed track since he also ran poorly in his only other start over a wet surface. He also may have reacted badly to running back in just eight days. His prior effort for the Toscano barn was actually pretty decent despite the fact that he finished fifth. He earned a 107 TimeformUS Speed Figure for that performance, which makes him formidable here. I’m definitely using him, but I do have some lingering concerns that he’s heading in the wrong direction.
Shamrock Kid (#1) appears to be his main rival off his solid thirdplace finish at a similar level last time. That was arguably a tougher field than this one despite the lower claiming range, and he did well to be third while turning back in distance. I think he’s another legitimate contender, but I want to look elsewhere.
My top pick is SIENA MAGIC (#5) in his first start off the claim for Rudy Rodriguez. I know that he has to improve on his recent starts, but I think that is likely to occur given Rudy’s record with horses of this type. Over the past five years, he is 4 for 11 (36 percent, $3.80 ROI) first off the claim with horses who won their maidens last time out on dirt. What I like about this son of Candy Ride is his grit and determination. I thought he actually ran the best race of all two back when he was closing with a rush after going wide off the far turn. He had to work hard to win second off the layoff last time and may have benefitted from dueling with a camera-shy foe. However, I think this colt still has some upside, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see this new barn do well with him.
Exacta Key Box: 5 with 1,3,4
Trifecta: 5 with 3 with 1,4