Invest (#8) is clearly the horse to beat as he attempts to break his maiden after losing via disqualification last time out. Linda Rice has started him at a mile three times and now is turning him back to 6 furlongs, a move that has probably been prompted by his improving early speed. However, I’m reticent to support a prohibitive favorite trying something for the first time. Furthermore, this horse has some quirks to him and has been known to get in his own way at times.
Some may view his main rival as the Chad Brown first-time starter, Financialstability (#6), who debuts as a 4-year-old. This gelding sold for nearly $300,000 at the OBS sale two years ago and has taken a long time to get to the races. He does have some pedigree, since his dam was Grade 2-placed and is a full sister to Grade 1 Test runner-up Pretty Prolific. I’m using him prominently, but I think there are better options at more enticing prices.
My top selection is HOT DIGGITY (#5), who returns from a lengthy layoff. Jeremiah Englehart has excellent statistics in this situation. Over the past 5 years, he is 9 for 23 (39 percent, $3.93 ROI) with maidens coming off breaks of 120 to 240 days in dirt sprints. This horse ran better than it seems in his debut and then took a nice step forward second time out, closing well in a reasonably fast race. His final effort of 2018 was disappointing, but he did not get an ideal trip that day. If he has taken a step forward with natural maturity, he’s a viable alternative to the favorite.
Exacta Key Box: 5 with 3,6,8,10
Trifecta: 5 with 8,10 with 3,4,6,8,10