Jerry the Nipper (#4) may go favored after finishing second in his debut here in late January. This $310,000 weanling purchase is bred to stretch out in distance as a son of Liam’s Map out of a dam who was a stakes-placed router. He’s also a half-brother to recent one-mile starter-allowance winner Freedom Prince, so the pedigree is certainly there to excel going this distance. However, I didn’t love the effort he put forth first time out as he was never a serious threat to winner Impetuous, who returned to disappoint badly in a race here on Thursday.
I prefer some of those who already have experience going this trip. Aintitfunkynow (#1) makes plenty of sense after transitioning his solid turf form to the main track last time. He did get an honest pace to close into, but he stayed on well in the stretch while just unable to contain the late surge from Wild Banker. He has the versatility to work out another good trip here, but I prefer a different runner out of that Jan. 24 affair.
FARRAGUT (#2) was the one setting that quick early pace, doing so while being challenged all the way. He turned back the other speeds at the quarter pole and gamely responded to the closers’ challenges in the stretch before ultimately settling for fourth. It was an encouraging step forward for a horse who had also run deceptively well overcoming a difficult pace scenario in his debut. He’s bred to keep getting better as the distances get longer since both his sire and damsire are Belmont Stakes winners. Furthermore, there isn’t nearly as much early speed in this affair as he encountered in his first two starts, so he should control the early tempo. It also doesn’t hurt that he’s getting a significant rider upgrade to Eric Cancel.
Exacta Key Box: 2 with 1,3,4,5
Trifecta: 2 with 1,4 with 1,3,4,5