I suppose Risk Profile (#7) and American Monarch (#11) will vie for favoritism after finishing second and third, respectively, behind the talented Happy Medium last time. However, they clearly weren’t in the same league as that rival and I didn’t think either one did anything particularly noteworthy in defeat. Risk Profile has a stronger overall resume, having run well in all three starts since getting claimed by Linda Rice earlier this year. Yet he hasn’t run that fast in his last couple of starts and I think he’s vulnerable at a short price. American Monarch can certainly improve off his return last time, but the Bill Mott barn has been in a slump for the past month at Aqueduct.
I’m not against Repo Rocks (#3), who finished just behind Risk Profile when they met at Belmont on Sep. 18. I thought Repo Rocks ran a comparable race to the winner that day, as he attended an honest pace and battled on gamely despite racing wide off a gold rail. He since ran deceptively well on turf two back and then crushed a starter allowance field last time. If he maintains his current form he’s certainly a win candidate.
My top pick is BUSTIN SHOUT (#1). I want to see this horse get sent directly to the front from his inside post position. There is not an abundance of early speed in this race, and I believe Bustin Shout is fast enough to secure the lead from Siena Magic, who breaks just to his outside with Eric Cancel. Bruce Levine has been quoted as saying that he used that turf race as a prep last time, but this horse nevertheless ran well that day against a pretty salty field for the level. While his best speed figures have been earned on turf, he ran deceptively well in a few dirt starts here last winter, particularly when he got involved in fast paces on Dec. 11 and Jan. 21. I think he fits well here and could get somewhat overlooked in this competitive field.
Exacta Key Box: 1 with 2,3,6,7
Trifecta: 1 with 3,7 with 2,3,4,6,7,11