The two horses likely to vie for favoritism are Walkoff (#2) and Lil Commissioner (#6). The former is a deep closer who is always at the mercy of the pace. Walkoff got plenty of that last time when he rallied from far back to prevail in the mud. It did take a drop down to a bottom level claimer second off the claim for him to get back to the winner’s circle, but at least he got back on track following a poor performance to conclude his winter campaign. The waters get deeper here and there isn’t nearly as much speed signed on, but Cox’s runners have been firing and this guy has generally been one of the more consistent runners in this lineup. He’s a logical player in this spot, but he may need some help up front if he’s to achieve back-to-back victories.
I’m less confident in Lil Commissioner. At first glance he seems like the horse to beat, as his recent form is solid and he’s consistently posted some of the best speed figures in this field. However, the elephant in the room is the trainer switch. Rob Atras does an excellent job, but horses exiting the Jorge Navarro barn have generally underperformed. This runner held his own in some tougher spots at Gulfstream, but it’s just difficult to trust that form given what we now know.
I want to take a shot with ARMAMENT (#7) getting back to dirt. It’s interesting that Eric Cancel is sticking with this runner rather than Mills – before that one was scratched – whom he won aboard last time. Overall this gelding possesses the superior form and class lines, but he’s yet to reproduce his best efforts since the claim by Ed Barker. Yet you can make some excuses for his winter efforts. Then they tried the turf upon return this month, and while he does handle that surface, he lost all chance when he got steadied back to last after the start. This outside post position is perfect for him and he should fall into a great trip either on the lead or stalking California Night (#4). As long as he gets an aggressive ride this time, I think he can take over from that rival be tough to reel in.
Exacta Key Box: 7 with 2,4,6
Trifecta: 7 with 2,4 with 1,2,4,6