Likely favorite Cousin Andrew’s (#2) three prior starts have all yielded the same result. He looked like he might be bound for a solid 3-year-old campaign following that encouraging debut here last winter. However, he didn’t really step forward in his subsequent start, and then the pandemic induced a layoff. He returned last summer with a solid performance in the mud, but was no match for Creed, who followed up that maiden score with an allowance win. This three-time runner-up now hasn’t been seen in 10 months, but he returns in a favorable spot. Chad Brown is 5 for 14 (36%, $2.12 ROI) with maidens returning from layoffs of 180 days or more in dirt routes over 5 years. He’s the horse to beat, but he doesn’t really scare me at a short price.
His main rival based on prior form is Continuation (#1). Yet this colt has also had his chances at this level. He never really ran back to that auspicious debut last winter, though he has picked up some minor awards since then. He ran particularly well last time when again checking in second at this level behind the improving Mystic Night. Now the connections add blinkers in hopes of pushing him over the edge. I’m using both of these runners, but I’m instead siding with upside.
My top pick is the other Chad Brown runner SAVOY (#4). His debut last summer was encouraging, especially considering that he was participating in a pretty live Spa maiden event. Both Ten for Ten and Speaker’s Corner returned to win next time out, with the former subsequently finishing second in the Grade 2 Remsen later in the year. Savoy gave the impression that he was one who would stretch out, but he failed to handle the added distance over a sloppy track in October. Now he returns from a layoff as a new gelding. He’s certainly bred to love the distance, since his dam is a half-sister to Grade 1 Kentucky Oaks winner Secret Status and graded stakes-winning router Alumni Hall.
Exacta Key Box: 4 with 1,2,5
Trifecta: 4 with 1,2 with 1,2,3,5