Venerable 9-year-old gelding Always Sunshine (#3) is obviously the horse to beat given his ample back class and superior résumé of speed figures. He also figures to enjoy a tactical advantage in this race, as the Pace Projector is indicating that he’ll attain a clear lead in a situation favoring the front-runner. While he won his return from the layoff at Laurel two back, he benefited from a very favorable setup in victory going 5 1/2 furlongs. He wasn’t as effective last time, when unable to make up ground in the slop at the same level. He’s spotted realistically for his return to the NYRA circuit, offered up for the $50k tag. However, I’m a little concerned that he’s heading in the wrong direction in a race where others are clearly performing at their peaks.
One of those “in form” runners is Square Shooter (#4), who exits a narrow loss in the Kelly Kip starter stakes. He earned a strong speed figure for that race, improving upon his victory first off the claim back in January for Wayne Potts. He’s shown improved tactical speed in recent starts so he figures to work out a good trip.
He’s a major player, but I prefer fellow rival CLENCH (#2) at what figures to be a slightly more generous price. This horse ran well to win a $32k claimer in his initial start for the Antonio Arriaga barn back on Feb. 8. He got claimed away that day, but those connections snatched him up in his very next appearance for $40k. While he didn’t run particularly well for different connections in the slop, he rebounded under Arriaga’s care in the Peeping Tom, finishing well for second behind the impressive winner Ryan’s Cat. This horse figures to get ridden for position by Kendrick Carmouche and I think he can overcome a slight pace deficit with the strong late kick he’s displayed in his two starts for the current connections.
Exacta Key Box: 2 with 3,4,5
Trifecta: 2 with 3,4 with 3,4,5,7