Blackjack Davey (#6) is the horse to beat as he steps up against winners for the first time. He seemed like a horse who badly needed a start when he made his debut in June, and he took the typical step forward that you would expect from a Linda Rice second time starter next time out. In hindsight, there wasn’t much behind in that race, as he won with ease after making a blitz to the lead at the quarter pole. While he got the 1 1/16 miles that day, I still think there are some outstanding questions about this runner’s stamina, especially as he tries two turns for the first time. He’s bred to be a sprinter, and I’m just a little skeptical that he’s truly cut out for this demanding 9 furlongs at Saratoga.
His main rival appears to be Bebe Banker (#2), and he does appear to have a significant pace advantage in this spot. Yet he, too, seems like a dubious candidate to excel over this distance. Furthermore, he earned that last Beyer against a woefully weak group and has struggled at this N1X level in the past. I believe both favorites are somewhat vulnerable, so I want to go in a different direction.
Danny California (#8) is a viable alternative, as he clearly relishes this 1 1/8 miles trip. Yet he’s not exactly a winning type and there’s another horse who intrigues me at a far bigger price.
MICROSCOPE (#4) is a 3-year-old who comes in a little light on speed figures. Yet I think he’s run deceptively well in a few of his races. He nearly defeated next-out stakes winner Chowda when they met in January before he was compromised by a slow pace when they rematched in the Gander. He then returned from a layoff last time in the slop at Belmont and put in a decent effort. That distance is too short for him, yet he closed well to be fifth in a race where few made moves from the back of the pack. As a son of stamina influence Micromanage, I’ve been waiting for this horse to stretch out around two turns, and he finally gets that chance. Based on his winter form, it’s hardly outside the realm of possibility that he could step forward 10 points and upset the favorites.
Exacta Key Box: 4 with 2,6,8
Trifecta Key Box: 4 with 2,6,8 with 2,6,8