City Mischief (#5) could go favored in this New York-bred optional claimer after beating open company in his maiden score. He was bounced around between horses following a crowded start, but got a very good trip thereafter, working his way into the clear for the stretch drive. This son of Into Mischief has an unusual action, running with his front legs splayed apart as he extends his stride. Though, that apparent flaw hasn’t hindered him much yet. The bigger issue for me is that a few runbacks from that Mar. 6 race have fared poorly in subsequent starts, calling into question the legitimacy of the speed figure. I prefer some others who figure to be better prices.
I think the horse to beat is actually Dancing Buck (#9). He only made one prior turf start in his debut last fall and it was a strong effort. He stalked a fast pace and made an early move to take over in upper stretch before getting run down by the talented Perfect Munnings. This gelding was hardly disgraced when he switched surfaces this winter, but he’s by turf sire War Dancer and his dam earned all 4 of her career victories on grass. He’s probably just now getting back to his preferred surface.
Following the scratch of my original top pick, I’m most interested in first time turfer DR. BLUTE (#1). It’s a little surprising to see this horse move directly over to turf following that impressive debut victory on dirt. However, he actually does have plenty of turf pedigree, as sire Not This Time has won with 11 of 47 turf starters, good for a strong 23% win rate. The dam was unraced, and she is a half-sister to Grade 3 turf winner Khancord Kid. He showed talent in his debut and John Kimmel has solid statistics with first time turfers. He also should be forwardly placed in a field that lacks an abundance of early speed outside of Bardolino.
Exacta Key Box: 1 with 4,5,9
Trifecta: 1 with 4,9 with 3,4,5,7,9