Daddy Knows (#3) is the likely favorite in this spot. At this point, everyone is tuned into how well Linda Rice does with second-time starters, and she’s even proficient with this dirt-to-turf move. This gelding actually ran quite well in his debut, closing from far behind after a sluggish start to lose by just more than a length to the superior Red Zinger. While he would be quite formidable if he translates that form to grass, he did get a pretty fast pace to close into that day. Furthermore, he’s bred to handle dirt as a half-brother to the talented New York-bred Mr. Buff. Sire Scat Daddy is a solid turf influence, but it’s not clear if this horse will do much better switching to grass based on his breeding. I’m using him prominently, but I’d rather take the runner who finished just behind him on dirt last time.
QUIET OUT EAST (#6) ran well that day, but he is really more of a turf horse. He displayed an affinity for this surface as a 2-year-old, closing well to be third in his second start despite racing wide over a rail-biased course. I would argue that his dirt performance last time merely signals that he has returned as an improved horse as a 3-year-old. He had been working very well coming into that May 12 race, and Christophe Clement was able to use it as a prep. Now he’s switching back to the right surface, and Clement is 6 for 12 (50 percent, $3.11 ROI) with maidens going from dirt to turf second off a layoff. If he improves as expected, he’s going to be a handful for this field.
The other interesting runner to consider is Wacky Pal (#2), who ran on decently against open company last time after a somewhat uncomfortable trip through the lane. This horse trained well over the winter, and may improve for the new barn while returning as a first time gelding. It’s also noteworthy that Christophe Clement’s other runner Uncle Curly (#11) draws in this race from the also-eligible list. His best effort is clearly good enough to beat this field, but I was not thrilled with his return to the NYRA circuit last time.
Exacta Key Box: 6 with 2,3,9,11
Trifecta: 6 with 2,3,11 with 2,3,5,9,11