Todd Pletcher has two strong contenders in this Point of Entry Stakes. If he elects to run Noble Indy (#4) here rather than in Monday’s Knickerbocker, this gelding might be the favorite. His career has really turned around since they switched him to turf this year, and he picked up his first victory on this surface last time over some runners with stakes form. This race doesn’t feature any confirmed front-runners, so his speedy style figures to make him a major wire-to-wire threat. However, he will be stretching out to 1 1/2 miles for the first time since the 2018 Belmont Stakes, and he’ll be trying the longest distance he’s every attempted on the turf. While he doesn’t strike me as your quintessential turf marathoner, he could be pretty dangerous if he backs down the pace and it turns into a sprint to the wire, as was the case in that optional claiming score last time. I’m using him defensively, but I’d rather not take a horse at a short price who’s trying something for the first time.
Pletcher’s other runner, Pillar Mountain (#5), needs to improve a bit to earn his first stakes victory, but this seems like a good spot for him. He was simply overmatched in the Sword Dancer and Kentucky Turf Cup in his last two starts as the runner-ups in each of those races returned to photo for the win in the Grade 1 Joe Hirsch Turf Classic last week. My only concern with Pillar Mountain is that he’s a bit of a plodder and he’s not going to get any pace ahead of him to set up that late run.
I’m going to give RED KNIGHT (#3) one more chance on the stretch-out. I took a shot with him in the Ashley T. Cole last time, but acknowledged that the distance might be a little short of his best trip. Now he’s stretching out to 1 1/2 miles, and he put forth a graded stakes-level performance going this distance in the Elkhorn back in April. While his recent form leaves something to be desired, the trips didn’t work out for him in either the Belmont Gold Cup or the Bowling Green. If Junior Alvarado can get him to settle today, I think he’s dangerous.
Exacta Key Box: 3 with 1,4,5,7
Trifecta: 3 with 4,5,7 with 1,4,5,7