With the scratch of Elios Milos, Smokin Platinum (#2) becomes the horse to beat. This 4-year-old has some talent, but he has been having trouble breaking from the gate ever since he returned from the layoff in 2018. He leaves the stalls with the field but then can’t accelerate at the same rate over the first few jumps, putting him at a disadvantage. He also has a tendency to get too keen and make premature moves. He’s dangerous if he works out the right trip, but I can’t trust him.
Given my lack of confidence in the favorite, I’m taking a shot with the returning 3-year-old STEAM ENGINE (#3). This colt took advantage of a mild rail bias when he earned his maiden score last October, but he did so over a decent field. Frosted Ice, who defeated him in his debut, returned to win a stakes, so he’s faced runners of some quality. Brad Cox does not have the strongest layoff statistics in dirt sprints, but his barn has been sending out live runners in recent weeks at Belmont. This speedy colt will have to deal with Foolish Ghost and Oh My Papa on the front end, but he breaks sharply and may be able to get the jump on them. He’s going to be dangerous with any improvement on his juvenile form.
The other horse I want to use prominently is Show Prince (#5). His Dec. 16 maiden victory was better than it seems, as runner-up London House returned to win twice in a row and third-place finisher Hushion also came back to win, both with vastly improved speed figures. He outran his 44-1 odds behind Mike Lee winner Blindwillie McTell two back, and then lost all chance at the start when he was steadied badly after the break in most recent outing. This gelding has more ability than his career record indicates.
Exacta Key Box: 3 with 1,2,5
Trifecta: 3 with 2,5 with ALL