Alan’s Argument (#5) might not look like a prohibitive favorite at first glance, since his debut speed figure doesn’t exactly make him a standout in this race. However, there are a lot of things going for him. He was only making his first start last time, so he stands to improve off that effort, and he’s reeled off two bullet workouts since then, suggesting that a forward move may be in order. Most importantly, he’s a logical participant at the maiden special weight level whereas most others in this field are moving up from the maiden-claiming ranks. I’m using him prominently, but there are others to consider.
Freedom Prince (#7) he has earned some of the highest dirt TimeformUS Speed Figures in the field, but all of those were achieved against maiden-claiming company in dirt routes. Now he turns back in distance and moves up in class. While he might be able to handle the level of competition, he has shown a tendency to break a step slowly in some races, and that could be detrimental going this shorter distance.
My top pick is, like the favorite, another horse who has yet to try claiming ranks. PUNCHLINE (#6) is coming off a significant layoff but is doing so for a capable barn. He showed nothing in his debut a year ago while racing greenly, but he took a significant step forward second time out in a race that may be faster than the speed figures indicate. The first-, second-, and fourth-place finishers from that affair returned to run 17, 14, and 27 TimeformUS Speed Figure points faster in their subsequent start. Punchline appears to be working well for the return and may be able to contend here with routine maturation.
Exacta Key Box: 6 with 1,5,7
Trifecta: 5,6 with 5,6 with 1,3,4,7