Golden Award (#6) will be tough to beat if she returns to the form that carried her to victory in the Shuvee two back at Saratoga. I’m not sure exactly what happened in the Personal Ensign last time as she never seemed comfortable and backed up after about 5 furlongs. It’s always a concern when a horse is coming off such a poor effort, especially when that runner is going to be a short price. However, with the exception of one race in the slop this spring, she’s run well every other time, so it’s not as if she has a history of being unreliable. I’m using her prominently, but I’m leaning in another direction for my top pick.
GOTHAM GALA (#9) seems like a horse who’s finally found herself at the end of her 4-year-old season. She was initially targeted at a turf career and then showed an affinity for dirt, despite racing in sprints. Yet it turns out that going long on dirt is what she wanted to do all along, as she’s taken her game to the next level since being stretched out this year. She earned a series of TimeformUS Speed Figures between 113 and 116 in her starts during the summer, and all of those are higher than the best figs posted by Golden Award. She showed plenty of grit when she was resurgent two back after getting passed by the talented Mylady Curlin at Thistledown. Some might be turned off by her seemingly regressing in victory last time at Keeneland, but she didn’t get a great trip that day. Javier Castellano got caught in traffic when trying to make a move with her approaching the quarter pole, and they lost valuable momentum as others sped away in upper stretch. She actually did well to regather herself and rally for the victory. This 9-furlong distance is perfect for her and she seems to be doing very well right now.
Exacta Key Box: 9 with 1,4,5,6
Trifecta: 9 with 1,5,6 with 1,2,3,4,5,6