The two potential favorites in this spot $40k claimer are both dropping in class off poor performances and returning from layoffs. Beaver Creek (#8) is the one coming back from the shorter break, have just raced in early January. He didn’t put in a particularly competitive effort that day, just lagging at the back of the pack throughout. Yet this lightly-raced son of Speightstown had run much better in his two prior starts, including a third-place finish over this surface in December. However, he was a vet scratch since then, and the lack of early speed that he’s displayed in his two races for Linda Rice raises some questions about the trip he requires to be successful in this spot. The TimeformUS Pace Projector is predicting a situation favoring runners on or near the lead.
I do prefer him to the other potential short price, Giant Shoes (#1). This gelding never really panned out last year after a promising debut victory. Now he’s dropping in class off the layoff while making his first start with blinkers and as a new gelding. There are just too many variables for me to take a short price on him.
I was tempted to go back to Farragut (#5), who drops in class out of a series of failed attempts at the N1X allowance level, but his sprint races don’t inspire much confidence, and his form appears to be heading in the wrong direction.
My top pick is VICTORY BUILT (#7). He is moving up in class for this, but his form is heading in the right direction. He arguably ran the best race last time after getting held up for a long way while tentatively ridden on the turn before rallying late on the outside over a track that was favoring rail runners. Since then he’s been claimed by Antonio Arriaga, who is 10 for 43 (23%, $3.00 ROI) first off the claim on dirt at NYRA over the past 5 years. This is a positive rider switch to Trevor McCarthy and the addition of blinkers could signal that he’s likely to display more early speed this time.
Exacta Key Box: 7 with 1,5,6,8
Trifecta: 7 with 5,8 with 1,2,5,6,8