I suppose Good Old Boy (#6) could go favored as he returns to New York-bred company after facing open rivals during the winter at Gulfstream. However, this is not the kind of horse that I would recommend betting at any kind of short price. He’s already a candidate to be overbet with Irad Ortiz aboard, and I felt that he was facing some weaker fields when he competed in New York last year. I didn’t see him do much running against starter allowance foes last time, and I’m just not convinced he’s good enough to win at this N2X level.
I strongly prefer his main rival KLICKITAT (#5), who returns from a layoff and gets back to his preferred surface. They took a shot on dirt last time to see what he might do over the winter, and the experiment failed. However, his prior tur form was pretty strong. He improved a great deal through the fall, defeating Good Old Boy on Sep. 5 before running a career-best race to just miss in a photo with the talented Graded On a Curve in October. He lost at the open N1X level thereafter when skipping a condition, but he even ran better than it looks in that spot. He was much too close to a fast pace and actually did best of the horses involved in that pace despite his rider overcommitting to the rail path. As long as he returns in decent fitness, I think he’s going to be tough for this field to handle.
I could also use Step Dancer (#8), but I think it remains to be seen how good this 3-year-old actually is. He clearly relished the boggy going when he won the Awad last year and his surrounding performances aren’t nearly as good.
At a big price, I’m actually somewhat intrigued by El Hermano (#7) getting back on turf. His recent form since returning from a layoff is abysmal, but he was eased last time and might appreciate getting back on the surface over which he once broke his maiden. There isn’t much speed signed on here and he figures to be leading them early under dangerous front-running rider Jose Lezcano.
Exacta Box: 5,7
Trifecta: 5 with 6,7,8 with 6,7,8