Proven Reserves (#1) may win this race, but his recent dirt form has been pretty disappointing. He was uncompetitive in a couple of starts over the summer and he merely picked up pieces last time when back on the dirt in a race where no one really showed up behind the first two finishers. It’s concerning to me that he’s totally lost the early speed that he once possessed. He’s also going to take money based on the Chad Brown factor and a superior turf speed figure two back.
His main rival Promo Code (#6) at least has the tactical speed to work out a good trip in this race. However, his return from a layoff last December at Gulfstream was similarly disappointing. He chased the pace after briefly dueling for the lead, but had no answer in the stretch. I didn’t like that he failed to change leads through the lane that day, which doesn’t bode well for him stretching out in distance. Furthermore, Todd Pletcher doesn’t have great statistics with horses making their first starts for a tag.
I’m far more interested in ex-Pletcher runner WALKOFF (#2), who I am elevating to my top selection after the scratch of Zealous. While some may be disappointed in his loss as the 7-5 favorite last time, he didn’t have the greatest trip that day. He got shuffled back when steadied immediately after the start. Then while advancing around the far turn he had to alter course multiple times before ultimately squeezing through on the rail in the lane. All things considered, I thought it was one of the best efforts of this horse’s career. He’s been claimed out of that race by the Brad Cox stable, and it’s a good sign that this new barn is moving him up in class in his first outing for them. A one-turn mile seems like the ideal distance and I have confidence that he’s heading in the right direction whereas the two favorites may be on the downswing.
Exacta Key Box: 2 with 1,5,6,7
Trifecta: 2 with 1,6 with 1,5,6,7