The public is likely to gravitate towards the two lightly raced options in this intriguing optional claimer. Patagonia (#3) was ambitiously entered in the Bernardini Stakes on Saturday, but his connections opted to scratch and instead target this easier spot. He ran very well in his first start off the trainer switch to Jonathan Thomas, loving the stretch-out to 1 1/8 miles as he ran down the highly regarded Communicator. However, that race may not have been as strong as it seemed at the time. Communicator returned to finish 10th as the heavy favorite in this next start at Oaklawn, and third-place finisher Moretti also lost at 3-5 odds when he returned at Laurel recently. Patagonia has a right to continue improving, but he’s going to be a short price in here and others have already run faster races in the past.
Frank’sgunisloaded (#5) is in a similar situation, as he looks to build upon his N1X win going a one-turn mile. Yet he was beating an even weaker field than Patagonia in that race and he still has to prove that he’ll be as effective going this distance.
I think both of these runners will need to improve to beat the seasoned ROAMING UNION (#4). Some may be deterred by that pair of off-the-board finishes in his last two starts, but he was facing significantly tougher company on both occasions. He was unfortunate to run into Belmont Stakes winner Sir Winston last time, and prior to that he ran deceptively well chasing a fast pace in the Queens County. Roaming Union has always been best going this 9-furlong distance, and he probably just needs this slight drop in class to return to the winner’s circle. If he recaptures the form that we saw from him at Belmont last fall he’s going to be a serious rival for the two aforementioned 4-year-olds.
Exacta Key Box: 4 with 2,3,5
Trifecta: 4 with 2,5 with ALL