Maxwell Esquire (#10) has to be considered the horse to beat off his encouraging debut, in which he rallied well through the stretch to finish second behind a more experienced rival. He is bred to be a useful turf runner as a half-brother to multiple turf winners Memories of Peter, Image of Disco, and Image of Noon. If he builds on his debut at all, he’s going to be difficult for these to handle. However, Christophe Clement is just 5 for 33 (15%, $0.62 ROI) with second-time starting maidens in turf routes over five years. Nevertheless, he’s a deserving favorite.
I’d also use Portfolio Hedge (#9), the first time starter for Chad Brown. This stable seems to target some of their turf 2-year-olds for the Belmont fall meet and this colt has enough pedigree to handle today’s scenario. However, I generally prefer runners with experience in these races.
My top pick is BRILLIANT BROOKS (#2). He lost his debut by 18 lengths, but that was due to the misfortune of finding himself in the same race as Tiz the Law, who earned a 112 TimeformUS Speed Figure in that winning debut. He now tries turf, and he’s certainly bred for it. Candy Ride is a 10% first time turf and 13% overall turf sire, and the dam earned all three of her victories on turf with a top TimeformUS Speed Figure of 103 on that surface. Jeremiah Englehart is 4 for 19 (21%, $3.65 ROI) with second time starting maidens trying turf for the first time. I think this one is going to take a big step forward on the surface switch.
Exacta Key Box: 2 with 4,7,9,10
Trifecta: 2,10 with 2,10 with 1,4,7,8,9