Realm (#6) is the horse to beat in this intriguing optional-claiming event, which could easily be mistake for a minor stakes. This Barclay Tagg trainee is dropping out of series of stakes events and just seems like the class of this field. He picked up a Grade 2 placing when finishing third in the Brooklyn, and he was arguably best that day after getting a wide trip over a rail-biased course. His connections have focused on marathon distances in his recent starts, but he’s shown the ability to be just as effective over shorter distances. I just think he’s getting the class relief that he needs and I’m hardly against him.
High North (#7) also may attract some support as he makes his second start for Shug McGaughey. They picked a curious spot for his first start for this barn at Presque Isle Downs last time, since he had never raced over a synthetic track before. He didn’t run poorly, but found his best stride too late. He should be set to take a step forward in his second outing for this barn, and he appears to be training forwardly. That Sept. 22 workout went in company with recent allowance winner Performer, who appears to have stakes in his future. His form makes him a contender, but his one recent race over a sloppy track was poor, that’s a concern.
I’m using both of these contenders prominently, but my top pick is BACKSIDEOFTHEMOON (#2). Rudy Rodriguez made a bold move in claiming this 7-year-old for $62,500 and he hasn’t shied away from immediately moving him up in class to the $100,000 level. This son of Malibu Moon has always had a ton of quality, but his form for Leo O’Brien was inconsistent at times. His top speed figures obviously make him a major player, and I’m hoping that Rodriguez can get him to put forth a top effort in his first start for the new barn. The Pace Projector is predicting that he shouldn’t be that far off a moderate pace set by American Tattoo (#1). That Pletcher trainee has handled a wet track so he might be worth upgrading given the conditions.
Exacta Key Box: 2 with 1,6,7
Trifecta: 2 with 1,6,7 with ALL