Impressive debut winner Schokolade (#3) will attempt to make it two in a row as he stretches out in distance. He took some money in that unveiling to get bet down to 5-2 and was professional during the race. He broke sharply, established the early lead, and never looked back en route to a commanding score. That 88 TimeformUS Speed Figure compares favorably to others in this field, so the real question is the stretch-out in distance. Bayern is a versatile sire, and his dam was proficient over a variety of distances and surfaces. Yet Bill Mott is just 2 for 25 (8%, $0.64 ROI) with debut winners making their second starts on dirt. He also may have to endure pace pressure from Lobsta and Writer’s Regret. There are some reasons to be skeptical at a short price.
I prefer some rivals who are already proven over this distance. Bingo John (#4) makes sense as he meets winners for the first time. He was heavily bet in his second start and delivered a solid performance to break his maiden over this distance. He has to step forward again to beat this field but is a contender. My top pick is actually a horse who finished behind Bingo John on Feb. 4.
It took FULL MOON FEVER (#2) five starts to break his maiden, but he had shown potential dating all the way back to his debut. He ran a strong race over this distance on Dec. 18, losing only to undefeated stakes winner Nicky the Vest with a field-best 99 TimeformUS Speed Figure. While he didn’t perform up to that standard in two subsequent losses to today’s rivals, he did finally register a smashing maiden win last time, beating an overmatched group by nearly 18 lengths. The cutback in distance shouldn’t bother him too much. One does have to wonder which version of this horse we’re going to get, but Tony Dutrow has been enjoying a very strong meet, and that has to be taken into account.
Exacta Key Box: 2 with 3,4,5
Trifecta: 2 with 3,4 with ALL