Its All Relevant (#1) is the horse to beat in this spot on the heels of his facile win at this level back in March, which earned him a career-best 120 TimeformUS Speed Figure. He’ll be almost impossible for this field to catch if he repeats that kind of performance. The return to a one-turn configuration shouldn’t pose much of a problem, especially in light of the Pace Projector, which is predicting that he will be on the early lead in a situation favoring the front-runner. The one reservation I have with regard to this horse is class. He beat a relatively weak group last time, especially when you consider that heavy favorite Patagonia ran a bizarre race, clearly not at his best that day. Perhaps this race isn’t much tougher, but it’s a deeper group, and I just don’t fully trust Its All Relevant to hold his form.
The obvious alternative is I Love Jaxson (#6), who has been in raging form for Linda Rice. He’s won 5 of his last 6 starts while moving up the class ladder all the time. This will be one of his toughest assignments yet, but that 118 TimeformUS Speed Figure he earned last time puts him squarely in the mix, and his versatile running style should allow him to adapt to any kind of pace scenario. I believe he’s dangerous.
Yet my top pick is a horse that I cannot resist. I’ve always been a fan of the Finger Lakes-based gelding WINSTON’S CHANCE (#5), though I have taken issue with the way he’s been managed on a few occasions. While he’s enjoyed most of his success at his home base, he has been compiled a modest list of achievements in his trips to NYRA over the past several seasons. Yet this time he comes into a NYRA start for a new barn, having been transferred to David Donk over the winter. Donk is a decent 5 for 33 (15%, $3.47 ROI) off trainer changes over the past 5 years, but more importantly he actually wins his fair share of races here, which is not true of his prior conditioner. Furthermore, I love that he’s bringing this horse back in a dirt route. For whatever reason, his prior trainer kept trying to turn him into a sprinter even though he has clearly run his best races going longer. The fact that he gets a rider switch to Luis Saez is an added bonus, as this upgrade might be equal to the trainer switch in terms of importance.
Exacta Key Box: 5 with 1,4,6
Trifecta: 5 with 1,6 with ALL