Potential favorite Wicked Trick (#3) has been unstoppable since the transition to dirt. Though he lost his initial attempts going long, he’s now 4 for 4 in dirt sprints. He got plenty of pace to close into last time, but still came from behind over a sloppy track that was favoring speed. Yet this is a significant step up in class, and I believe there are other legitimate contenders in this spot who will offer better value.
Puttheglassdown (#7) has a similar running style to the favorite. He appeared destined for a perfect trip when this race was originally drawn for the Dec. 19 card that was subsequently canceled. While there’s slightly less speed signed on this time, the pace should still be honest, so he shouldn’t be badly compromised. He wasn’t helped by getting sent down to the dead rail when second to Chateau in July, but he nevertheless got a fantastic pace setup that day. His form since then has been decent if uninspiring, and he’s going to need to run a bit faster to take down this crew. I prefer the horse that defeated him in Saratoga.
CHATEAU (#5) posted a couple of impressive victories over this strip last winter, earning some flashy speed figures. While it might seem that his form has tailed off a bit since then, he’s actually run extremely well in each of his last two starts. He set an insanely fast pace when beating Puttheglassdown at Saratoga, running better than the neck margin of victory would indicate. Then last time he got cooked in an early duel, putting away his main pace rival before getting run down by his vastly improved stablemate Happy Farm, who has since gone on to win a stakes. This slight cutback in distance helps him, and it wouldn’t be a surprise to see him put away Runforthemunnings and run the rest off their feet, just as he did back in July.
Exacta Key Box: 5 with 2,3,7,8
Trifecta: 5 with 3,7 with 2,3,6,7,8