The major players in this race exit a Belmont maiden event in late October. One horse who figures to attract significant support out of that race is the fourth-place finisher Stare Decisis (#5). He was making his career debut in that spot and he had to make a run from far back to reach contention. The early pace of that race was on the quick side, so he had that working in his favor, and the winner did close from a similar position. Whereas that horse, Box N Score, made a clear outside run, Stare Decisis tried to weave his way through traffic inside and lost some momentum. I believe he can improve with that experience under his belt and the added distance doesn’t figure to hinder him. I’m using him prominently, as I do prefer him slightly to Betterment (#4), and definitely prefer him to Malthael (#1), who is questionable going this distance. However, my top pick is exiting a different race just 6 days ago.
It’s highly unusual for Shug McGaughey to run a horse back that quickly, but I think it could work out with his entrant, NORTH DAKOTA (#9). This horse has a regal pedigree, being by top sire Medaglia d’Oro out of a dam whose progeny includes international leading sire War Front. While that sibling was a speedy type, the majority of the runners in this female family have been turf routers, with many of them preferring longer distances. Therefore, I believe this stretch-out to 11 furlongs may really benefit this colt. Furthermore, he’s run out of real estate in his last two efforts, the mile being far too short last time. Two months earlier, he had run deceptively well closing into an extremely slow pace at Churchill Downs, and if he can build upon that effort I think he’s a threat to win here.
Exacta Key Box: 9 with 1,4,5
Trifecta: 9 with 4,5 with 1,3,4,5,6