The Big S (#11) is likely to be the prohibitive favorite in this spot, but I’m starting to get a little sick of this horse losing at short prices. He looked like he had found the right field on Jan. 22 but was run down by Mister Phil. He was in over his head two back, but last time he again had found a field that should have been at his mercy and he surrendered the lead in the stretch. He earned an 85 TimeformUS Speed Figure for that performance, which is merely mediocre for this level, and I think he’s vulnerable at a short price.
I think the best alternative is the last-out maiden winner BRUNATE (#4). I admit that this isn’t a horse I would have tabbed to ever pick against winners when he resurfaced this winter. Yet I cannot deny that his last race represented a huge improvement over his prior form. He was stalking two-wide against a rail bias on Feb. 26 and he just ran away from that field in the late stages, earning a solid 86 TimeformUS Speed Figure. H. James Bond has solid numbers with horses coming off maiden wins and I like that Trevor McCarthy is back aboard after getting him more involved in the early stages last time. Plus, a wet track doesn’t figure to hinder him given how well he ran over a sloppy track last summer at Saratoga.
The others are tough for me to endorse. Macho Boy (#3) figures to lead them a long way, but he usually finds someone to pass him late. Gratto Swing (#5) would have been somewhat interesting at a huge price based on his against-the-bias trip last time if he had a competent rider named. And Spitball (#9) has prior races that make him competitive but his last few have been fairly disappointing.
Exacta Key Box: 4 with 3,5,9,11
Trifecta: 4,11 with 4,11 with 2,3,5,9