With this race coming off the turf, I would be looking to play against possible favorite Claytonthelionheart (#7). Some may say he’s a horse-for-course given the fact that all 3 of his career victories have been achieved at Saratoga. However, I’m somewhat skeptical of that speed figure he got two back on July 15. He was a dominant winner against inferior foes last time but didn’t run nearly as fast. He’s arguably the one to beat in his current form, and I do prefer him to Thomas Shelby (#10), who could also take money. This son of Curlin has won 4 of his last 5 starts for Robertino Diodoro, whose barn has woken up lately at this meet. However, he’s been facing some weaker competition at Lone Star and I wonder if he really classes up with this field. I’m also not convinced that he really wants 10 furlongs.
My top pick on dirt is BACKSIDEOFTHEMOON (#11), and I’m intrigued by this trainer switch to Pat Reynolds. He may be one of those rare horses that just doesn’t perform well without Lasix, as all three of his efforts without that anti-bleeding medication this year have been poor. They all have to answer the 10-furlong question but at least this guy has a body of work around two turns, and has run well over that demanding winter dirt track at Aqueduct. He’s dropping into a realistic spot off the bench and it wasn’t so long ago that he was running speed figures that would make him pretty tough to handle in this spot.
I also wouldn’t totally discount Fortuity (#6) among those entered for turf. I do think the added distance helps him, but obviously others have stronger main track form. I’d throw him in underneath.
Exacta: 11 with 6,7,10
Trifecta: 11 with 7 with 5,6,10