Freewheeler (#8) was a little disappointing in his first start back off the layoff last time to lose as the 4-5 favorite. However, he had excuses as he was last away from the gate, putting him out of position in the early going, and then had to close into a moderate pace. I think he’s better than that based on his solid two-year-old form and his encouraging workouts coming into that return. However, he will have to break better this time if he’s going to beat this deeper field.
Another horse who disappointed at this level last time is Uncle George (#13), who was never in contention as the 7-5 favorite at Belmont last time. I’m not really sure what was going on with his trip that day, as he was down inside at the back of the pack and his rider appeared to ride him like he was intimidated by getting placed in tight quarters. Ultimately, I don’t think that race is a true gauge of his ability. On the other hand, he got a great pace setup in his debut and there’s no guarantee that a repeat of that effort will be good enough to beat this field.
I think there are plenty of other horses worth considering. Three Outlaws (#11) owns a win over this track, and even longshot Big Package (#5) could make his presence felt if he moves forward off his juvenile form.
Yet the alternative who intrigues me most is INSIDE INFO (#12). For a large field like this, there really isn’t much pace in this race. The Pace Projector is predicting that Inside Info will be on the lead in a situation favoring the front-runner, and I think that makes him dangerous. Linda Rice tried to get this horse on the turf two back and was rained off, but he’s nevertheless shown improved form in his two dirt starts for this barn. I think he can handle the turf since he ran deceptively well in his debut on that surface last year. Some may also be deterred by the 5-day turnaround, but this is a strong move for Linda Rice.
Exacta Key Box: 12 with 5,8,11,13
Trifecta: 8,12 with 8,12 with 2,5,11,13