Potential favorite Hawaiian Noises (#4) was no match for Grade 1 winner Complexity two back but rebounded to easily defeat an overmatched field as the odds-on choice last time. While he earned a respectable speed figure, he got a perfect trip. I won’t put anything past this barn, but this runner is facing a much sterner test here and seems a little dicey at what figures to be a short price.
I’m similarly skeptical of his former stablemate Life In Shambles (#3), who was claimed away from Servis by Mertkan Kantarmaci last time. He’d be tough if able to repeat that recent performance, but a lot of things went his way that day and he’s meeting a tougher field this time.
I prefer others, and one of the more trustworthy contenders appears to be Win With Pride (#6). This gelding is probably no longer capable of delivering the kind of performances we saw from him last winter, but his two recent efforts since returning from a layoff are actually better than they seem.
I’m using him prominently, but my top pick is the likely speed ARISTOCRATIC (#7). The Pace Projector is predicting a situation favoring the front-runner, and that is going to make this horse awfully dangerous. He found himself dueling for the lead through quick fractions last time and was swallowed up late by a couple of deep closers. Nevertheless he was extremely game that day and will be tough here with a similar effort. This is the kind of horse who can relax on the lead when allowed to do so, and he usually runs his best speed figures under those circumstances, as he did when winning by over 6 lengths on Nov. 3. If Eric Cancel is aggressive and secures the front, I believe he’ll be difficult to reel in.
Exacta Key Box: 7 with 3,4,6,8
Trifecta: 7 with 4,6 with 2,3,4,6,8