Morning line favorite Dalika (#8) is simply the horse to beat. She displayed her class facing some nice 3-year-old stakes foes last year, and her 4-year-old debut suggests that she has some added versatility. Turning all the way back to 5 1/2 furlongs off the layoff seemed like a curious move by Al Stall, but this filly handled it with ease, making a strong late run from the back of the pack to win going away. She’s stepping up to face a tougher field here, but she’s beaten rivals of this quality in the past and she should get some pace ahead of her with a few key speeds in this field.
Jonathan Thomas sends out a pair of runners in Bridlewood Cat and Escapade. The former tries turf for the first time without much pedigree for this surface. Escapade is a confirmed turf sprinter, but she has to improve slightly on her recent turf form to beat this field. She didn’t get the most comfortable trip at Tampa last time, but she flattened out late and now has to go 6 furlongs. I’ll use her, but I prefer some others.
I’llhandalthecash (#4) makes plenty of sense as she makes her second start off the layoff. She was going to win her return at Churchill last time when she was totally knocked off stride in mid-stretch. Furthermore, her form from late last year was strong, as she had some trouble in a few starts, particularly on Nov. 23 at Aqueduct. I’m using her prominently, but I actually prefer the winner of that Aqueduct race.
GETMOTHERAROSE (#3) went down to Gulfstream and put in a couple of excellent performances, overcoming a poor trip to be fourth in the South Beach before breaking through with a graded stakes triumph in the Honey Fox. She’s disappointed since then, but I think you can make some excuses for her. She got a little too rank in the opening stages of the Sand Springs, and then last time she clearly didn’t handle the yielding ground of the Intercontinental. Now she’s bad at 6 furlongs, a distance she has relished in the past, and she should get her preferred firm surface.
Exacta Key Box: 3 with 4,6,8
Trifecta: 3 with 4,8 with 1,4,6,7,8