Catholic Boy (#7) is likely to be the favorite here despite the fact that he hasn’t raced since the Suburban in early July. This was not a planned layoff, as he has missed multiple targets along the way. Jonathan Thomas reportedly has him in better condition now, but it still remains to be seen if he can translate that preparation into a top effort. In retrospect, he didn’t run badly at all in the Suburban despite losing as the favorite. However, Catholic Boy’s turf performances are another matter. While he ran well in his match-ups with Analyze It last season, his return effort in the Dixie didn’t necessarily suggest that he had moved forward at all. Essentially, he’s going to be the favorite in this race based on the perception that he can improve on turf, rather than how fast he actually has run on turf.
Lucullan (#3), the likely second choice, just looks more trustworthy. He returned from a lengthy layoff this summer and didn’t take long to shake off the rust. He picked up a stakes win at Saratoga, and arguably ran the best race of his career when third last time in the Woodbine Mile. This 9-furlong distance should be more suitable for him and his versatile running style should allow him to work out a favorable trip. I believe he’s the horse to beat, but the price might not be enticing.
I’m taking a shot with the classy GLORIOUS EMPIRE (#2). This 8-year-old is coming back on relatively short rest after an encouraging return at Laurel last time. While he only beat one horse home, he did well to overcome taxing pace scenario, putting away the other speed before getting overhauled late. People think of him as a marathon turf runner, but the 1 1/8 miles of this race actually suits him well. After all, he ran a career-best 128 TimeformUS Speed Figure in the Fort Lauderdale going this distance last December. He’s drawn perfectly right outside of his main pace rival Dr. Edgar so Edgar Prado should be able to work out a more comfortable trip than last time. If he can get back to top form with that one start under his belt, he’s a serious threat.
Exacta Key Box: 2 with 1,3,5,7
Trifecta: 2 with 3,7 with ALL