There appears to be plenty of speed in this race, as Quarky, Power Player, and Everylovesjames all do their best work on the front end. Everyonelovesjames (#8) would be a handful in this race if he were able to run back to his solid fourth-place finish in the West Point last time, However, he got to the front and was able to open up a clear early advantage that day, and that’s unlikely to happen this time with Quarky in the field. I’d use him defensively.
Power Player (#2) is a little interesting on the turnback in distance considering that his dam is the superb turf sprinter Cambiocorsa. Jason Servis tends to do well with these horses cutting back in distance.
My top pick is SWAMP RAT (#7). This colt has really improved as a 3-year-old. He first served notice that he had taken a step forward when running Global Access to a head decision in that Tampa stakes back in March, and that foe would later go on to win the Grade 3 Saranac. Swamp Rat ran three times at Saratoga this summer and actually performed quite well in all of those starts. He nearly pulled off an upset over the heavily favored Value Proposition back in July and then was just slightly overmatched in a couple of stakes. All of those performances came around two turns, and I believe this horse is really going to appreciate the cutback in distance. He won his debut going 6 furlongs as a 2-year-old, so he clearly has the speed to compete over this distance. I also like that the connections are removing the blinkers so that he can revert to a closing style.
Exacta Key Box: 7 with 1,2,6,8
Trifecta: 7 with 2,6,8 with 1,2,5,6,8