Likely favorite Lion Dance (#3) has been highly regarded from the start. He closed willingly to be second in a live maiden race at Saratoga, which produced Kentucky Jockey Club winner Signalman. He then disappointed as the 4-5 favorite behind eventual Kentucky Derby winner Country House at Aqueduct in the fall and was put away for the winter. He sustained a very wide trip when he returned sprinting in May, but was hardly disgraced losing to Fortune’s Fool, who returned to finish a good second last week with a 110 TimeformUS Speed Figure. He has a right to move forward here, but there are other viable contenders to consider.
My top selection is PERFORMER (#5), who returns for his 3-year-old debut after making one start in 2018. He was well supported that day, getting bet down to 7-5, but things didn’t go quite right. He hit the gate at the start while off a step slowly, then had to pause while rushing up in traffic. He gamely pursued the top two finishers and was coming home best of all across the wire. He was also slightly compromised by the pace that day, as all of the pace figures are color-coded blue in TimeformUS PPs, indicating a slow early tempo. He’s been given plenty of time off since then but appears to be working well for the return. Shug McGaughey is 6 for 29 (21 percent, $2.08 ROI) with second-time starting maidens getting Lasix for the first time. I expect him to show improvement in his 3-year-old debut, but I would also consider one of the first-time starters.
Chad Brown sends out One Eyed Jack (#2), who has pedigree to be a nice horse. He’s by good debut sire Uncle Mo out of a full sister to multiple stakes winner Doctor Mounty. It appears that he’s worked in company with Grade 3 winner Engage and recent allowance winner Looking at Bikinis.
Exacta Key Box: 5 with 1,2,3,6
Trifecta: 5 with 2,3 with ALL