Backsideofthemoon (#6) will obviously beat this field if he runs back to his performances prior to the Jazil. However, it’s unwise to just ignore a poor performance, especially for a horse that’s going to be a prohibitive favorite. There was certainly a strong chance that Backsideofthemoon was going to regress off his bias-aided win in the Queens County, but he did more than just regress last time. He just didn’t look like himself right from the start, racing sluggishly through the opening furlongs while never able to muster a rally. Perhaps racing without Lasix affected him that day, but if he indeed had a significant bleeding incident, would he really be running back in just two weeks? I’m skeptical.
I’m want to go in a different direction, and the two best alternatives appear to be sent out by Mike Maker. Someday Jones (#2) was no match for Lil Commissioner last time going a mile, but he was running back for the third time in just 28 days. Now he’s had a month to recover from that frenzy of activity, and he’s also getting out to his preferred 1 1/8 miles distance. However, I’m a little dubious of the speed figure he earned for that Dec. 20 performance, and I wish he had shown a bit more life off the claim for Mike Maker. I prefer this barn’s other horse.
EMPTY TOMB (#3) has been a little inconsistent lately, but he had a valid excuse two back when always wide against the rail bias in the Queens County. He rebounded last time with a good effort behind bias-aided winner Mad Munnys going a mile. And it’s not as if that performance came out of nowhere, as he had previously matched that 115 TimeformUS Speed Figure when winning a solid September allowance race over today’s favorite Backsideofthemoon. I’m not too concerned about the stretch-out to 9 furlongs since he’s handled two turns in the past. Furthermore, the TimeformUS Pace Projector is predicting a No Speed scenario, and he appears to be the most likely early leader.
Exacta Key Box: 3 with 1,2,6
Trifecta: 3,6 with 3,6 with 1,2,4