Hometown (#4) figures to go to post as a heavy favorite as he makes his first start against winners after breaking his maiden last month at Aqueduct. This colt had shown promise competing at Saratoga for Rodolphe Brisset last summer, just missing in a 9-furlong maiden event. He’s now returned under Chad Brown’s care and posted a strong 117 TimeformUS Speed Figure to graduate going 7 furlongs off the layoff. It was a workmanlike effort and it’s unclear what was behind him, but he won going away like stretching out again should suit him. I think he’s the most likely winner, but I’d be hesitant to accept too short a price on this favorite. Over the past 5 years, Chad Brown is just 2 for 14 (14%, $0.47 ROI) second off a 180+ day layoff in dirt routes with last-out winners. This colt may improve, but he’s also likely to be overbet. The problem is that there aren’t too many obvious alternatives.
One who merits consideration is Dust Devil (#1A) off his resounding 6-length victory against starter allowance company last time. However, he caught a sloppy track against a lesser field and now has to replicate that performance while moving up in class. I’d use him, but prefer a different alternative on top.
LOST IN ROME (#2) has tried this N1X level a few times without much success. However, he’s run better than it appears on a few of those occasions. He was racing against rail biases in each of his last two starts on Feb. 21 and Mar. 14. He was off a bit slowly two back and faded after making a middle move. Then last time he was hustled aggressively away from the gate, but tired after engaging the superior Yankee Division in a duel. Now he finds himself in a spot where he figures to be the controlling speed, and the Pace Projector is predicting a scenario favoring the leader. Furthermore, the Orlando Noda barn appears to have woken up recently, going 5 for 12 over the past two weeks.
Exacta Key Box: 2 with 1,3,4
Trifecta: 2,4 with 2,4 with 1,3,5