Al’s Rocket (#3) is clearly the horse to beat on the basis of his turf debut here just two weeks ago. He looked on his way to victory after working out a good trip, but he got run down by the favorite late. This grey colt has shown a tendency to hang on his left lead for the entire stretch drive, which may have cost him the win last time. He’s still a bit green, but he has talent and deserves to be favored.
A few second time starters were intended to get on turf in their debuts but got rained off in a Nov. 12 race at this level. The one that interests me most from that affair is Order of Magnitude (#5). He raced greenly towards the back of the pack early, and spent the majority of his trip right down on the rail on a day when you wanted to be in the outside paths. Now he gets on the surface for which he was originally intended, though he doesn’t have a ton of pedigree for grass. His best sibling is Breeders’ Cup Sprint winner Drefong, so it’s noteworthy that Chad seems committed to running him on grass.
I want to go in a different direction with a horse who already has turf experience. SMOKIN’ T (#9) has obviously improved on turf in his last couple of starts, though he didn’t make a significant impact on either occasion. That said, he ran into a pretty good rival two back, as winner Slipstream came back to win the Grade 3 Futurity, and some others also returned from that race to improve. Then last time he found himself in an oddly run race in which the field was incredibly bunched the whole way. He was stymied in traffic for much of the stretch drive, with Manny Franco never able to fully set him down, and he appeared to finish the race with more left in the tank. I’m hoping he gets a more aggressive ride from this outside draw because I suspect he has more grass ability than he’s shown thus far.
Exacta Key Box: 9 with 2,3,5,8
Trifecta: 9 with 3,5 with 2,3,5,6,8