Newly Minted (#7) is a deserving favorite in this race given her excellent résumé of consistently strong performances. Aside from one failed turf experiment, she’s run well in all of her starts, and she arguably put forth the best effort of her career when last seen on Dec. 22. She wasn’t facing much competition that day, bet down to 2-5 odds for a reason, and she dominated throughout to with a solid speed figure. Yet, it was just that – another solid speed figure – nothing more, nothing less. She’s earning figures that indicate she’s among the major contenders, but not numbers that suggest she has any significant edge over this field, and certainly not the kind of edge you’d expect of a horse who is 8-5 on the morning line. I respect her and will use her prominently, but there are other major players in this race.
I prefer her main rival, OUR SUPER NOVA (#2). From a pure speed figure standpoint, she’s every bit the equal of Newly Minted and actually defeated her when they met in the Empire Distaff last October. Our Super Nova legitimized that performance with subsequent successes, impressively winning a statebred stakes before finishing an admirable third in the Grade 3 Go For Wand. Some may be deterred by her loss as the 2-5 favorite in the Bay Ridge last time, but that effort is not a true gauge of her current form. Junior Alvarado made a tactical error that day, as he reined her in to rate off the pace despite breaking clearly in front. She ended up getting caught in a pocket behind the leaders and could just never find a clear path when it really mattered. She’s not going to mind turning back to a mile, and she figures to offer better value than the favorite.
The other major player that I would want to consider is More Mischief (#6), who steps back up into stakes company off a blowout victory against allowance foes last time. That was her first start going a mile and it’s possible that she’s just been looking for added ground all along, as that was clearly the best effort of her career. Furthermore, her tactical speed should play well in a race that lacks pace following the scratch of Out of Orbit.
Exacta Key Box: 2 with 4,5,6,7
Trifecta: 2 with 6,7 with 4,5,6,7,8