This is a very confusing race going an unusual distance. I suppose Leitone (#7) may go favored, but I’m concerned about the stretch-out. He’s handled 1 1/8 miles, but this is 1 1/2 furlongs farther than that and he’s not the kind of horse that is ever finishing with great energy. Furthermore, while the Pace Projector is predicting that he will be on the lead, he may face some early pressure from horses like Ekhtibaar and Armament. I’m using him prominently given his overall superior form, but I want to look for better value on the win end.
Adventist (#6) makes plenty of sense after running right by Leitone in the late stages of the Jazil. He was just picking up pieces late in a race that was falling apart, but at least you know that he’s going to get the distance given that he won the G3 Greenwood Cup going 1 1/2 miles. I’ll use him, but I think we can get a bit more creative with the top selection.
BLUGRASCAT’S SMILE (#8) is a horse who I have always wanted to see stretched out in distance, since he’s this imposing, long-striding type who often runs out of ground going shorter. He’s tried stakes company in the past to no avail, but this feels like a weird situation in which many of the top contenders could run below their best form. Blugrascat’s Smile’s recent efforts have been solid and he put forth one of his best performances to win going a mile last time, bulling his way through traffic late. Some will be deterred by the fact that he’s claimed away from Rob Atras, but Gary Sciacca is actually 10 for 55 (18%, $4.08 ROI) first off the claim on dirt over 5 years, suggesting that his recent claims are often overlays. It also doesn’t hurt that he picks up Eric Cancel, who has been winning races in bunches lately.
Exacta Key Box: 8 with 3,6,7,9
Trifecta: 6,7 with 3,6,7,9 with 8