Both of Chad Brown’s runners in this Grade 3 Pennine Ridge are making their stakes debuts, and the one who figures to attract the most support is Value Proposition (#1). This British-bred son of Dansili has made only one start, but it was a special performance. He launched a sweeping move from far back to easily take over at the top of the stretch and fended off a serious challenge before drawing off late. He was even somewhat green in the lane, ducking down to the rail late while continuing to widen his advantage. He earned a speed figure that suggests he can make this transition into graded stakes company, but he’s facing a pretty salty group in just his second career start.
I actually prefer Brown’s other colt, Demarchelier (#3). He hasn’t run as fast or won as stylishly as his stablemate, but I like the way this grinding son of Dubawi finishes off his races. I get the sense that we haven’t seen the best of him yet, and he figures to be the biggest price of the main contenders. Demarchelier appears to be working particularly well ahead of this race, though he is unproven over less-than-firm ground.
I’m using both of these runners, but I think Todd Pletcher’s entrants are just as appealing. Social Paranoia (#4) is the classier of the two, coming off a solid third-place finish in the Grade 2 American Turf. He signaled that he had returned as an improved 3-year-old with that impressive maiden score two back, and he backed up that performance behind Digital Age last time. However, now he must stretch out to 1 1/8 miles and I’m somewhat concerned about him getting the distance. Social Paranoia possesses good tactical speed, but I would assume that he will allow his stablemate Clint Maroon to set the pace.
CLINT MAROON (#5) is my top pick. I don’t think this son of Oasis Dream will have any problem handling the distance given his strong finishing ability. He had everything his own way up front in the Woodhaven last time, but he also leveled off and finished up the race with a ton of power. This grey gelding doesn’t need the lead, but he’s awfully difficult to run down when he’s allowed to set the pace. A little rain Thursday should have softened the turf courses a bit, and he loves some give in the ground. If he turns into the stretch with an advantage, I believe they will be hard-pressed to run him down.
Exacta Key Box: 5 with 1,3,4,7
Trifecta: 5 with 1,3 with 1,3,4,7
Trifecta: 3 with 5 with 1,4,7