RACE 2: LOST IN ROME (#2)
There are four major contenders in this race. Three of those are coming off career-best efforts, as Anzio Beach and Pier Forty broke their maidens last time out, and Allied Invasion took a significant step forward switching to dirt for the first time. They all figure to have a say in the outcome if able to repeat those efforts. However, there are some reasons to be skeptical, as the two recent maiden breakers are moving up in class and Allied Invasion got a perfect trip when second at a cheaper level last time. I think they’ll all have to improve again to beat Lost In Rome if that one is able to recapture his best form. This 3-year-old was consistently earning some of the fastest speed figures in this field while facing maidens through the summer. While those efforts came sprinting, he successfully stretched out to 1 1/8 miles in an off-the-turf race on September 3, running a race that would probably put him in the winner’s circle here. He obviously didn’t run well in his first start against winners last time, but he was in over his head that day and lost all chance at the start when getting away sluggishly. He’s clearly better than that and I think he can use his tactical speed to rebound at this more appropriate level.
RACE 6: FARRAGUT (#10)
Blackjack Davey is clearly the horse to beat as he encounters a relatively weak field for this level. He didn’t have a major excuse to lose as the 6-5 favorite last time when checking in a dull fifth. However, that was a stronger N1X allowance field, as third-place finisher Six Percent returned to win again with a strong speed figure. Blackjack Davey might not have to improve much on the 100 TimeformUS Speed Figure he earned that day to beat most of the runners in this field. However, I do think he’ll have to recapture some semblance of his top form to defeat one rival. Farragut finished one spot ahead of Blackjack Davey when they met in that Sep. 25 affair, and I felt that the Pat Quick trainee had the tougher trip. This colt was conservatively ridden early and then forced to make a wide move to nowhere on a day when horses were better off being on the inside. While he was again defeated at this level on Oct. 17, I felt hat he took a subtle step forward that day. The early pace was extremely fast for the distance, and Farragut got caught chasing the run-off Red Zinger, who ended up finishing last. Considering how fast he went early, Farragut had every right to lose ground to the talented pair Six Percent and Cold Hard Cash. I still think this horse is best going longer, and I like the outside post position for him in this spot, especially considering that there isn’t that much early speed drawn inside of him.
RACE 8: CONVICTION TRADE (#6)
If this race stays on the turf, we’re confronted with a potential favorite, Value Engineering, who I’m inclined to bet against. This horse has some talent, but he’s been a little disappointing this year, not quite taking the step forward that was expected of him as he’s struggled to break through this allowance condition twice now. He probably was best on July 17 when moving too soon into a fast pace, but I didn’t think he had much of an excuse last time when he had dead aim at the leaders and just hung in the late stages. I’ll use him defensively but I prefer some new faces. Christophe Clement entered the pair of Arthur Kitt and Mr. Alec, both of whom are contenders. Yet both of them need to rebound from poor efforts. I slightly prefer Arthur Kitt, who returns from a layoff, as I believe Mr. Alec will attract support due to an exaggerated poor trip last time. Some others are stepping up in class out of claiming races, and the one that I find most intriguing is Conviction Trade. This horse always had ability for trainer Jorge Abreu and just found this N2X level to be a little beyond his capabilities. Yet now he’s claimed by Mike Maker, one of the top turf trainers in the country. I’m expecting him to improve, and he’ll be pretty dangerous here if able to step forward off a visually impressive win at Belmont last time. That victory was accomplished over yielding ground, and he is a horse who has proven that he handles some give in the course in prior races. Furthermore, the Pace Projector is predicting that he’ll get a fast pace to close into.