The TimeformUS Pace Projector isn’t predicting a situation favoring any particular running style in this New York-bred optional claimer, but I don’t see that much speed signed on. Freewheeler was depicted as the early leader on the Pace Projector, but now he’s scratched.
I think VALMONT (#8) is going to the front here, and I believe he’s a major threat to lead this field from gate to wire. Some will be deterred by the presence of Jalon Samuel, but he rode this horse very well to a minor award at this level two back. Valmont encountered some traffic last time at Monmouth, so I don’t want to be too hard on him for that loss. Furthermore, impressive winner High Light Room might be faster than any rival he meets in today’s race. I don’t think he’s the best horse in this race, but I can envision him working out a favorable setup and there are some others in here at much short prices that I just don’t trust.
Shiraz (#7) is always some kind of factor in these races, but he’s never been the most reliable win candidate and his recent form is fairly spotty. I suppose some might consider Dancing Buck (#5) the horse to beat off his runner-up finish at this level last time. However, I thought he got a great trip that day, allowed to dole out fairly slow fractions up front before yielding to Call Me Harry in the stretch. Perhaps turning back to 6 furlongs will work out for him, but I don’t think he has any significant edge over this field. My bomb to use underneath is Steelersfanforlife (#2). This horse did not get the right trip off the layoff last time and can do better, though 6 furlongs may be a little sharp for him.
Exacta Key Box: 8 with 2,4,5,7
Trifecta: 8 with 5,7 with 2,4,5,7,11