I struggled with the morning line in this race, as it feels like a toss-up as to which direction the public will go. Just Right, The Caretaker, and Daddy Knows all figure to take money for different reasons. I made Just Right (#1) the slight favorite off the strength of the claim by Rob Atras. This barn is a strong 7 for 23 (30%, $2.07 ROI) first off the claim in dirt routes over the past 5 years. While he was defeated by both of those aforementioned rivals in that Dec. 19 event, he was coming off a couple of victories at this levels prior to that. He’s stretching out off the claim, but he’s handled his one-mile distance in the past. I’m not the biggest fan of this horse, but I do expect him to move forward with this barn change.
The Caretaker (#4) arguably has the strongest form of anyone coming into this race, but I’m skeptical about him stretching out in distance. He’s tried routes in the past with little success, and he has a tendency to flatten out at the end of even some of his 7-furlong races. He’s getting some class relief and undoubtedly ran well on Dec. 19, but I prefer others this time.
The horse I want most out of that Dec. 19 affair is DADDY KNOWS (#9). This 5-year-old has been a different horse since getting claimed by Rudy Rodriguez for $14k in October. And that performance last time when finishing third at this level was the best of his career. He chased the pace while racing three-wide over a rail-biased track in a race that fell apart. That 119 TimeformUS Speed Figure is the highest in this field. Some might be skeptical about him stretching out as well, but recall that he broke his maiden going 9 furlongs at Saratoga as a 3-year-old. Furthermore, he’s the younger half-brother to popular New York-bred Mr. Buff.
Exacta Key Box: 9 with 1,2,4,8
Trifecta: 9 with 1,8 with 1,2,4,7,8