I suppose The Big S (#7) is the horse to beat in this competitive starter allowance affair. He has faced some superior fields in his races since returning from a layoff this summer. He ran well first off the long break at Saratoga in September and then had the misfortune of catching Nashville in an allowance race at Keeneland. He dropped in for the tag last time at Churchill, making him eligible for this race, and put forth a game effort to be second. While the pace looks fast, that race was dominated by speeds, so I’m not sure he deserves any extra credit for surviving the fractions. He’s obviously a major player, but he’s hardly a standout in this field.
Horses like Jake Rocks (#10) and Beaver Creek (#2) are somewhat interesting as they cut back slightly from another race at this level on Dec. 13. Beaver Creek made a wild late rush in the last furlong that day, but he also got plenty of pace to close into. I’m not sure the pace projects to be as fast this time.
That’s why I’ve landed on SIENA MAGIC (#1). It was apparent that his connections made a choice to rate him on Nov. 21 when he allowed eventual winner Money Ride to go on with it early. That didn’t work out so well, and I’d imagine they’ll look to get back to the more aggressive tactics that have worked for him in the past. He’s quick enough to make the front from his inside post position and he has plenty of prior speed figures that suggest he’s good enough to beat this field. Plus he figures to be a square price as he goes out for a trainer with a small barn.
Exacta Key Box: 1 with 2,7,10