Arthur’s Hope (#8) will be among the favorites this time after getting the job done in the Say Florida Sandy last month with an impressive 117 TimeformUS Speed Figure. That just seemed like the right spot for him and we got a generous $12 win payout that day. Not only was he the controlling speed going an ideal distance, but the main track on Jan. 11 was slightly speed-favoring, all of which contributed to him delivering a top performance. Now he’s going to be a much shorter price and I think this is a slightly tougher spot. Kendrick Carmouche is going to have to use him in the early going to make the lead over rivals such as Binkster, Amundson, and Eye Luv Lulu, and Arthur’s Hope sometimes has trouble making the front going this shorter six-furlong distance.
Eye Luv Lulu (#7) seems like a perfectly viable alternative, but wins have been few and far between for this gelding as he’s gotten older. That said, he actually ran quite well in a number of races last year, particularly when he earned a massive 127 TimeformUS Speed Figure in the Affirmed Success at Belmont last April. He remains slightly better on wet tracks than fast going, but he’s run plenty of competitive races over dry strips.
My top pick is MY BOY TATE (#1). He lost to Arthur’s Hope by six lengths last time, but I don’t think he had much go his way that day. He broke awkwardly and was pinched back to last soon after the start. Then Manny Franco tried to rush him into the race, sending him on a four-wide chase while trying to make up ground around the far turn. That trip combined with the speed-favoring surface resulted in a poor performance. Yet this horse had run very well just one race prior in his return from the layoff and he’s arguably going to be aided by this turnback to six furlongs. The majority of his sprint performances have been excellent and I believe he has the upper hand over this group if he can bounce back to top form.
Exacta Key Box: 1 with 6,7,8
Trifecta: 1 with 7,8 with 2,4,6,7,8