Honor Up and Syndergaard, who would have been among the top contenders in this field, will not participate in favor of Sunday’s Haynesfield. This morning we also learned that Build to Suit will not participate, reducing the field to just 7 runners.
That probably leaves Eye Luv Lulu (#7) as the new favorite. He would have been helped by moisture in the surface, but we did not get enough precipitation to significantly alter the track surface. I had been worried that his career was finished after a series of disappointing efforts, but he got back on track last time with a decisive win. That was accomplished over a weaker field than the one he meets today, but he ran a competitive speed figure and goes out for a barn that always merits respect.
I’m definitely using him, but I want to take a shot with BAVARO (#5), who is stepping way up in class off the claim. I know he looks too cheap to compete against these horses, but he has run legitimately fast in his last two starts. His last two TimeformUS Speed Figures of 116 and 120 put him squarely in the mix, and he arguably could have run faster in both starts. Looking through the also-rans in those fields, the numbers totally stand up to scrutiny. Now he’s making his first start off the claim for Linda Rice, and it’s uncharacteristic for her to show this kind of confidence on the class rise. Bavaro was once cut out to be a very good horse, and things obviously went awry after his first couple of starts. Yet now he appears to be back in the best form of his career, and the Pace Projector indicates that he’s fast enough to outrun the other speeds to the lead.
The other runner to consider, especially after scratches, is Celtic Chaos (#10). This horse can be frustrating, since he often comes with a strong late rally, but rarely gets up to win. I was somewhat disappointed in his dull effort behind Honor Up last time, but perhaps the slight turnback to 6 furlongs in a race with more pace will suit him. Runaway Lute (#8) also has an outside chance after finally turning his form around last time, but he will need to run faster than he did that day.
Exacta Key Box: 5 with 7,8,10
Trifecta: 5 with 7,10 with 4,7,8,10