Lion in Wait (#7) and Miss Munnings (#8) figure to vie for favoritism if this race remains on the grass. Lion in Wait has been a terror at Belmont Park, having finished in exacta in 9 of 10 starts over these turf courses. She is effective from both leading and stalking positions, and she handles firm or soft going. While she has benefited from good trips in many of her triumphs, she usually makes her own racing luck. She made one start this winter at the Fair Grounds, and her effort was not as poor as it seems. She was meeting a tougher field than today’s group, and was unwisely rated early before having to alter course in the stretch. I slightly prefer her to her main rival.
Miss Munnings required 9 starts to break the maiden, but has been improving steadily and now appears to be in the best form of her career at age 6. She won both of her starts at Gulfstream this winter, most recently making slingshot last-to-first move before drawing off impressively in the finest effort of her career. She now returns from 3-month layoff, which is not Kimmel’s strong suit, but she is a contender nonetheless.
I’m using both of these mares, but my top pick is the returning 4-year-old filly ORBOLUTION (#2). I don’t often endorse horses returning from 18-month layoffs, but Pletcher has remarkable statistics in this situation. Over the past 5 years, he is 8-for-17 (47%, $4.55 ROI) off 300+ day layoffs in turf routes. Orbolution showed some serious ability as a 2-year-old, winning both of her Spa turf starts in the summer of 2017. She sustained a nightmare trip in the Breeders’ Cup to end that season, getting locked in on the rail with nowhere to go for the entire stretch drive. She appears to be training very well for her return, and can improve her speed figures with natural maturity.
Exacta Key Box: 2 with 6,7,8
Trifecta: 2,7 with 2,7 with 5,6,8