Chad Brown has two of the most intriguing entrants in this New York-bred maiden special weight, sending out a pair of first time starters with credentials to be effective in this spot. The one who figures to attract more support is Multiple Expansion (#7), a $50k son of Tourist, who is winning with 16% of his turf route starters. His dam was unsuccessful on turf, but there’s plenty of grass breeding in the second generation as his dam is a half-sister to turf stakes winner Dynamic Cat. The one issue is that he’s unlikely to be much of a price with Irad Ortiz named to ride.
Grape Nuts Warrior (#4) arguably has the better pedigree for turf, since he’s by 15% turf route sire Vancouver out of Grade 3 turf winner Testa Rossi. Chad Brown is 3 for 13 (23%, $0.99 ROI) with first time starters in New York-bred turf routes over 5 years. It appears that this pair has been working in company, and it would hardly be a surprise if both can run.
Yet I tend to go gravitate towards runners with experience in these situations, and there are a few that intrigue me. Bernardino (#6) makes sense based on his turf races from last year, but I’m not sure how much more improvement we’re going to get from this now 6-year-old. Bar Fourteen (#8) has plenty of turf pedigree stemming from his dam, but the distance is a concern for a gelding who has shown so much speed sprinting on dirt. At a big price, I’d even give a look to first time turfer Lucky Brody (#5) for Orlando Noda. Brody’s Cause hasn’t been much of a turf sire yet, but this colt has the strongest damside turf pedigree in the race.
I’d use most of the aforementioned contenders in some capacity, but my top pick is OCALA DREAM (#9). I thought this colt showed ability in his grass debut last summer at Saratoga. That race did not feature much early pace and he found himself outrun at the back of the pack early while racing wide for much of his trip. He was finishing on best of all at the end despite being a massive longshot in that race. It wasn’t the strongest field but he was facing open company there. Now he meets New York-breds and gets a positive rider switch to Junior Alvarado for his 3-year-old debut.
Exacta Key Box: 9 with 4,5,6,7