I suppose I Love Jaxson (#3) has to be considered the horse to beat as he drops back down in class to face New York-breds for the first time in nearly a year. He just hasn’t looked like quite the same horse since returning from a layoff over the summer, though it’s fair to say that he was in against significantly tougher company every time. He’ll be a serious factor here if the drop in class wakes him up, but I’m a little skeptical.
I prefer his main rival OUR LAST BUCK (#6). This 6-year-old turned into a different horse for Michelle Nevin once they finally stretched him out in distance. His first two starts after returning from a layoff this summer were excellent, both good enough to defeat this field. While he lost by 13 lengths at Saratoga last time, I think that performance needs to be evaluated within the context of the pace. They were flying up front as today’s rival Freaky Styley unexpectedly pushed Our Last Buck through unreasonably fast early fractions. They both paid the price, but it’s worth nothing that Freaky Styley was eased and Our Last Buck was able to hang on for second, albeit far behind the winner. Our Last Buck is better than that, and he figures to appreciate the turnback to a one-turn route here. After the scratch of Freaky Styley, Our Last Buck should work out a great trip either stalking Hit It Once More or setting the pace, and that should help him rebound.
The other major players are all closing types. Twisted Tom (#5) certainly has races good enough to upset the favorite, but he’s generally best going 1 1/8 miles when he gets pace to close into. He’s arguably the greatest threat to my selection, but I’m primarily using him underneath.
Exacta: 6 with 2,3,4,5
Trifecta: 6 with 3,5 with 2,3,4,5