Sanctuary City (#1) may got favored again after finishing a solid second when bet down to 5-2 at this level just 16 days ago. Most handicappers will see that 96 Beyer and 115 TimeformUS Speed Figure he earned for his performance in the Mohawk two back and assume he has a significant class edge over this field. However, he was very much carried along to that career-best figure due to the nature of turf racing, and I’m not optimistic that he can do much better than his performance last time. He got a great trip in that November 6 allowance and just couldn’t quite reel in Microsecond. He’s a player here, but I thought there were some alternatives that were more interesting at better prices.
One of those is the new face, Austrian (#6). This colt makes his first start against New York-breds since his career debut at Saratoga in 2019. Since then he’s raced primarily in the Midwest. While he may look a little cheap at first glance, this horse has subtly improved in recent starts, running a strong race at Kentucky Downs two back before holding his own in a tough optional claimer last time. He was privately purchased since then and is now in the barn of Danny Gargan. If he improves at all off his recent form he’s a real threat here.
My top pick is ADVANCED STRATEGY (#8). This son of Karakontie made his first start against winners last time, cutting back to 7 furlongs. While it seems like he never made an impact looking at his running line, this horse was actually in the midst of a sweeping move to challenge for the victory in midstretch last time before flattening out. I suspect that he lost some momentum and interest when pushed out to the outer part of the turf course on a day when the rails were already placed far off the hedge. I just don’t think that was the best part of the course and it hindered his run. He proved that he could handle a true route distance when breaking his maiden two back, and I think he’s dangerous here if he gets back to that kind of effort while reunited with Joel Rosario.
Exacta Key Box: 8 with 1,2,6,9,13