Blacktop Legend (#7) may go off as the favorite as he drops in for a tag for the first time. He’s shown an affinity for turf in his two starts, but both of those efforts came in route races. His debut was an oddly run affair in which a run-off leader opened up nearly 15 lengths on the backstretch. The entire field came together at the wire, so Blacktop Legend was not actually finishing as strongly as his running line indicates. He was overmatched against a tougher field at Gulfstream last time and now drops. Thomas has solid numbers with these trainer moves, so I’m definitely using him, but I prefer his main rival.
CLYDE’S RUNNER (#5) makes his 4-year-old debut after a series of frustrating efforts as a 3-year-old. He showed real promise when he made his debut over this course last year, closing well to be second behind the capable Be Gone Daddy. However, his connections then stretched him out against tougher company, and he did not respond well to the changes. As a half-brother to turf sprinter End Play, he’s just not suited to going two turns. Following those missed opportunities at Saratoga, he got one more chance to sprint in the fall at Belmont but worked out an impossible, wide trip over a rail-biased turf course. This horse has a lot more ability than his form indicates, and I like that he’s getting back to six furlongs on turf. He’s making his first start as a gelding, and he has the services of leading rider Jose Lezcano. All signs point to a top effort.
The other two horses to consider are Thenorthremembers (#2) and Tenure (#4). The former was an expensive yearling who does not have a strong turf pedigree and is dropping down second off the claim for Linda Rice. A turnback in distance should help, but I’m just not convinced that this is the right surface. Tenure is definitely bred for turf as a half-brother to 7 turf winners, but that is also the problem. His pedigree is far too classy for him to be debuting for just a $40,000 tag, suggesting that he may not possess much ability.
Exacta Key Box: 5 with 2,4,7
Trifecta: 5 with 2,7 with 2,3,4,7