Thursday TimeformUS Highlight Horse: Shotski’s recent form is better than it appears

Belmont | Race 5 | Post Time 5:13 p.m. (ET) | Go to the TimeformUS PPs | Not already a TimeformUS member? Sign up 

I suppose O’Trouble (#3) will go favored once again after just barely getting the job done last time as the overbet 4-5 choice. Tony Dutrow, to his credit, is being realistic about this horse’s quality, opting to put him in this conditioned claimer rather than an N2X optional claimer where he’d surely be overmatched. The issue I have is the stretch-out in distance. I’ve never gotten the impression that more ground is supposed to benefit this horse and I wouldn’t want to take another short price to find out whether or not he can handle it. 

There are a few logical alternatives to consider, but I’m not interested in the ones drawn to the outside. Fast Break (#6) has never gotten back to the races he ran for Jason Servis, and Democratic Values (#7) rode a rail bias when he won last time. I instead prefer another horse making his first start for a tag. 

SHOTSKI (#2) has yet to recapture the form that he displayed in taking the Grade 2 Remsen as a 2-year-old, but I do think his recent form is better than the results would indicate. I won’t fault him for running poorly off the layoff in January, since Jeremiah O’Dwyer doesn’t have great stats off lengthy breaks. Since then he’s run well in two starts at Laurel. He got engaged in an honest pace two back, losing only to a pair of horses who are both in excellent form right now. And then last time he got engaged in a four-horse battle for the front end. Unsurprisingly, that race fell apart with Mischief Afoot sweeping by the field from far back. Yet the quality of that race was validated when Mischief Afoot returned to win a fast race on Preakness week. Shotski now gets some slight class relief and he should play out as the speed of the speeds under Luis Saez.

Another horse that might be worth considering at a bigger price is Mo Gotcha (#4). I have my doubts about his current form, but he may appreciate stretching back out in distance for Rob Atras. He’s the primary backup for me.

THE PLAY

Win: 2

Exacta Box: 2,4

Trifecta: 2 with 3,4,5 with 3,4,5

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