Haikal (#3) is the main attraction in this Jimmy Winkfield off the strength of his visually impressive maiden victory in mid-December. He got a fast pace to close into in his debut, but I loved the way he leveled off in the final furlong, as he nearly ran down today’s more experienced rival Family Biz. Haikal put it all together last time, when he narrowly got up to win after ducking down to the rail in the stretch. Most horses would not be comfortable closing up the inside, but he showed that same turn of foot we saw first time out. While I agree that he’s an exciting young horse, his TimeformUS Speed Figures don’t indicate that he has any kind of edge over this field, and the pace scenario may not work in his favor. While the Pace Projector isn’t predicting a fast or slow pace, it does show Tikhvin Flew up on the lead with Gates of Dawn. Neither of these runners are speed-crazy, so I could see them slowing down the tempo in the early going.
Tikhvin Flew (#4) seems like a formidable rival for Haikal, and in some ways is the horse to beat. The 113 TimeformUS Speed Figure that he earned in his maiden win towers over this field. He’s already won at the distance and I get the sense that we didn’t see all that he has to offer in his first start.
I’m using these horses prominently, but the horse that interests me most in this spot is GATES OF DAWN (#7). I thought this John Servis runner showed potential in his first two starts at Parx. He defeated Spun to Run by 3 lengths two back, and that rival returned to finish close behind both Haikal and Tikhvin Flew in their maiden victories. I believe Gates of Dawn took a step forward in his stakes debut last time, as he ran well to be fourth after chasing wide on the far turn. A mile is probably too far for him, but he battled on gamely through the lane despite his taxing trip. John Servis does very well with turnbacks on the dirt. Over the past 5 years, he is 31 for 109 (28 percent, $2.32 ROI) with that move. I think this colt is primed to sit a perfect trip here and he’s already proven his quality.
Exacta Key Box: 7 with 1,3,4
Trifecta: 7 with 3,4 with 1,3,4,5,6