I’m somewhat against both Joe Sharp horses in this field, as they each figure to take money off blowout victories at Churchill Downs.
The one that I want no part of is Runnin’ Ray (#9). This horse did come home pretty fast when taking a one-turn mile event at Churchill Downs last time, but he was beating a much weaker field that day. Horses have not come back out of that race to run particularly well, and I’m skeptical that he can repeat that effort stepping up in class and stretching out in distance.
Hombrazo (#2) is a little more appealing, as he achieved his last victory going two turns against slightly better company. That was his first start for Joe Sharp, and he won during a time when the Sharp barn was sending a series of live runners at Churchill. The stable has since cooled off a bit, and I think there are other more appealing options in this field.
My top pick is WINTER POOL (#6). This gelding tried this level at Churchill last time and put in a strong effort to just miss. He was steadied badly coming out of the starting gate and did well to make a sweeping move to the lead in upper stretch before he was passed in the late stages. A repeat of that performance with a clean break should make him pretty tough to beat, and he seems like one who should relish this 9-furlong distance.
I would also use Beachwalker (#7) at a price. This horse is obviously a little slow on speed figures, but he was hindered by a slow pace last time and has handled distances this far and beyond in the past.
Exacta Key Box: 6 with 2,7,8
Trifecta: 6 with 2,7 with 2,4,7,8,10