Sir Winston (#2) is the main attraction in this one-mile optional claiming event. He was rerouted to this seemingly easier target after was initially slated to participate in the Jazil Stakes won in the slop by Mr. Buff. Yet it’s unclear if things are going to work out as well for him here as they would have last weekend. Whereas the Jazil featured plenty of pace going a two-turn distance that would allow him to make use of his ample stamina, this one-turn test will force him to show more speed. Sir Winston was in very good form when he won the Belmont Stakes last year, having also put forth an excellent effort in the Peter Pan prior to that. However, it took a long series of races for him to reach that point and I’m not sure that his one turf prep at the Fair Grounds has been enough to put him where he needs to be. I’ll use him defensively and I’m rooting for him to continue progressing, but I think this is the day to play against him.
The logical alternative is Musical America (#5), who would be pretty formidable if merely repeating his last performance. After easily beating a softer allowance field at Laurel in his first start for Rob Atras, he immediately stepped up to face tougher company last time. Grumps Little Tots was the class of that field exiting a graded stakes placing, yet Musical America ran right past him on the far turn and widened in the stretch going today’s distance. That 120 TimeformUS Speed Figure is the highest last-out number in the field one of the highest earned by anyone in this race.
I’m using him prominently, but my top pick is LEITONE (#6). It’s curious that Jason Servis has entered him here on short rest, since it’s not a typical move for this barn. In fact, Servis is just 2 for 6 (33%, $2.15 ROI) on 1 to 7 days’ rest over the past 5 years, indicating how infrequently he does this. Leitone was put into the difficult position of chasing Mr. Buff through swift early fractions in the Jazil and understandably faded in the lane. It’s possible that he didn’t care for the wet track, as he’s never run well on such a surface before. The fact that Servis is turning him around so quickly probably indicates that the race didn’t take much out of him. He’s generally been more brilliant is his one-turn races, so I like him getting back to a mile. Furthermore, he figures to play out as the clear speed this time unless Brass Compass is sent on a mission. That 124 TimeformUS Speed Figure that he earned at Belmont three back is the highest in this field and it’s not as if he’s run that much worse in two subsequent starts. In my opinion, he’s the horse to beat and he’s unlikely to be favored.
Exacta Key Box: 6 with 1,2,3,5
Trifecta: 6 with 2,5 with 1,2,3,5,7