The 7-year-old Control Group (#6) loves to win races, having crossed the wire first in over a third of his 42 lifetime starts. He will attempt to make it two in a row after just getting up to win by a nose when last seen on Feb. 15. He got a great trip in that spot, stalking on the rail on a day that featured an inside bias, before angling out to rally in the two-path through the lane. While he’s content to rate, he also possesses tactical speed that could come into play in this largely paceless affair. He’s a 7-time winner at this 1 1/8 miles distance and has run plenty of races at or around this class level that make him the horse to beat. I’m using him, but I do have some questions about his overall form at a short price.
Another horse who could benefit from a slow early pace is Kumar (#3). This runner’s last few performances have been lackluster, but they have all come against significantly tougher company. He had little chance last time against the likes of Family Biz and Limonite, and prior to that he was over his head at the N2X optional claiming level. He’s capable of competing in cheaper races like this when he’s at his best, though it is fair to question whether 9 furlongs is pushing him past his limit. He’ll be a much better price than Control Group, so he’s worth including.
My top pick is AIR ATTACK (#2). This horse ran well at the same level and distance two back, engaging in a protracted duel with eventual winner Super Dude before fading to second. While it might appear that he regressed last time, he was wide against a rail bias that day and actually did well to make a premature move on the far turn prior to fading. Now he makes his first start off the claim for Rob Atras, who is 9 for 29 (31%, $2.30 ROI) first off the claim in dirt routes over the past 5 years. Air Attack should relish stretching back out to two turns, and showed two back that he has the tactical speed to work out the right trip in this field.
Exacta Key Box: 2 with 1,3,4,6
Trifecta: 2 with 3,6 with 1,3,4,6