Gold Panda (#1) and Big Bobby (#4) figure to vie for favoritism in this New York-bred allowance event. The former showed ability in his debut when staying on well behind the promising duo for Water’s Edge and King Angelo. He then took a significant step forward in his second start, showing vastly improved early speed to wire a field in the slop. He earned a strong 106 TimeformUS Speed Figure for that performance and a repeat of that number will make him tough. However, he is coming back just 15 days after that maiden win. Big Bobby was no match for the impressive Judge N Jury at this level last time but he still ran a respectable speed figure to be second. I do wonder if this horse was just ready to fire on debut because he really hasn’t moved forward at all since that unveiling. He’s obviously a major player once again, but I thought Gold Panda had more upside between the two favorites.
Another 3-year-old to consider at a better price is Work Out (#6). He never had a chance last time after dumping his rider and running off prior to the start, and probably should have been scratched.
My top pick, who should also be a square price, is PRINCE OF PHAROAHS (#3). This 4-year-old gelding returns for Linda Rice with prior form that makes him competitive here. He ran poorly as a heavy favorite when last seen in February at Aqueduct, but he was off for a long time after that so something may have gone wrong. He had previously run well going this distance on Jan. 8 and I love the way he’s training for his return. Furthermore, Linda Rice is a strong 5 for 13 (38%, $4.30 ROI) off layoffs of 120 to 240 days on dirt at Saratoga over the past 5 years.
Exacta Key Box: 3 with 1,4,6
Trifecta: 3 with 1,4 with 1,4,6,7