This is a highly competitive race in which you have horses converging from a variety of different class levels. The horse to beat is probably the class dropper I Love Jaxson (#1A). This gelding really turned a corner off the claim for Linda Rice last year, reeling off 5 wins in 6 starts dating back to the Saratoga meet. He appeared to have found a good spot to return from the layoff last time at Belmont, but it just looked like he wasn’t quite the same horse that we had gotten accustomed to seeing over the winter. While he was never going to beat Its All Relevant, he was incredibly dull throughout that race, and now Linda Rice is dropping back in for the $40,000 tag. He has to be used, but I prefer to rely on others.
Not That Brady (#2) is a perfectly viable win candidate as he returns from the layoff. He got thrown into some pretty tough spots as a 3-year-old. The last time that he was competing in an optional claiming race on dirt, he ran a career-best 125 TimeformUS Speed Figure while just barely losing to the once-promising Looking at Bikinis. While he probably won’t get back to that kind of number off the layoff, plenty of his surrounding efforts were solid and he figures to give a good account of himself. The fact that some of his main pace rivals, particularly the speedy Foolish Ghost, have scratched out of this race will help his cause. Of the closers, I would give a long look to Blugrascat’s Smile (#5). He doesn’t win that often anymore, but he typically runs well at this level and should not be overlooked at a square price.
I’d use all of these in some capacity, but my top pick is the “now” horse, OUR LAST BUCK (#10). This 6-year-old has just been a completely different horse since Michelle Nevin stretched him out on dirt two starts back. He’s been able to make better use of his tactical speed and has shown a good finishing kick closing off his own fractions. This is by far the toughest field that he’s faced, but he’s coming out of a race that proven to be strong. Yankee Division, Kid d’Oro, and Danny California have all run back out of that June 11 affair to improve their speed figures next time out. Our Last Buck is drawn well outside of the other speed and figures to sit another great stalking trip.
Exacta Key Box: 10 with 1,2,5,7
Trifecta: 10 with 1,2 with 1,2,3,5,6,7