The Caretaker (#6) looks formidable based on his recent form. He ascended to new heights off the claim last year, finishing a strong second to the promising Free Enterprise before walloping open N1X foes with an impressive 114 TimeformUS Speed Figure on Dec. 29. Rudy Rodriguez acknowledges that he may have run him back too quickly in the Say Florida Sandy thereafter, but the horse also has a valid excuse, since he was rated off a slow pace over a speed-favoring track. If he bounces back he’s going to be awfully tough to beat. However, Rudy also made a point to say, as reported in Dave Grening’s DRF article about this race, that the horse hasn’t been doing as well recently, which makes the drop back in for the $40,000 tag somewhat alarming.
I want to go in a different direction, since there are other viable options in here. Playthatfunnymusic (#5) makes a bit of sense as he gets needed class relief after failing against tougher open company rivals recently. However, I wonder if he can recapture the form he displayed late last year, which may have been somewhat situational.
I prefer LE GENERAL (#7), who figures to be a square price this time. This colt switched back to dirt in his most recent start but caught a muddy track. While that may not have hindered him, getting involved in a torrid early duel certainly did, as he put away main pace rival Hushion but was left vulnerable to closers in the lane. Yet that was a subtle step forward for a horse who had once shown high ability, and he’s apparently trained well out of the race. He matched The Caretaker’s 114 TimeformUS Speed Figure when he broke his maiden over this track in late 2018, and he seems to be cycling back to that kind of form now. There is other speed here, but he’s drawn well outside and gets a positive rider switch to Franco.
Exacta Key Box: 7 with 2,5,6
Trifecta: 7 with 5,6 with ALL