Monteleone (#5) has to be considered the horse to beat as he seeks his fourth consecutive victory while steadily climbing the class ladder. However, he will face a new obstacle on Saturday – a fast track. This gelding clearly has a strong affinity for wet surfaces, particularly sealed ones, and he has gotten such going in all the victories during his win streak. Yet not only must he contend with a new surface, the waters get much deeper as he moves into N1X allowance company. His TimeformUS Speed Figures suggest that he stacks up with this group, but they don’t give him any kind of advantage. I’m somewhat against him, and I hold Tap Master (#4) in similar regard. He makes that same class move after beating starter-allowance foes last time, but he benefited from a fantastic trip that day.
In my opinion, the two runners you want are those with proven form at this level. Royal Asset (#6) would be a massive threat were he to run back to his Dec. 15 performance, in which he was just a length behind subsequent stakes winner Honor Up. However, his most recent start was poor. I’m concerned that he took no money that day, and now Rudy reaches out to a second-tier rider.
Therefore, my top pick is WEGOTOLDYOUGOTSOLD (#2). This gelding’s first two starts for the Bruce Levine barn would likely beat this field. He trounced Monteleone when they met on Nov. 30, and it was no disgrace losing to a freakish effort from Fully Vested in the slop two back. Some may be deterred by his seventh-place finish at odds of 5-2 last time, but I think he had an excuse for that performance. While there was not a true golden rail on Jan. 26, horses racing inside did appear to have an advantage, and that was especially true during the race this horse exits. He was wide throughout and only finished two lengths behind the runner-up, as they were all far behind the rail-skimming winner. This time the Pace Projector is predicting a scenario that is far more favorable to front-runners, and he figures to work out a great trip stalking Royal Asset. I believe this runner is going to rebound with an improved performance this afternoon.
Exacta Key Box: 2 with 4,5,6
Trifecta: 2,6 with 2,6 with 3,4,5