Workingman’s Dude (#9) is the one to beat after twice checking in third at this level. He had legitimate trouble in his career debut, but rebounded nicely in his second start, showing improved early speed before fading. He again performed well last time, taken off the pace by Jose Lezcano before rallying in the stretch. That was going 7 furlongs so he just has to stretch out an additional eighth of a mile here, and he looks like one that should handle the distance.
I have more faith in him getting the mile than Devious Banker (#10), who arguably owns the best dirt races in this field. He was a solid third on debut behind the superior Who Hoo Thats Me, and then was compromised by a two-wide trip against a rail bias on Oct. 22. A repeat of those efforts makes him a major player in this spot, and he goes out for the underrated Cleveland Johnson barn. However, he has more of a sprint pedigree and I’m somewhat skeptical of him handling a mile.
My top pick is CONVERTIBLE FREEZE (#11). This colt ran like one who badly needed the experience in his only dirt start, as he was off slowly and just looked unfocused racing at the back of the pack. He has subsequently improved in two turf starts, but I’m not sure that he’s necessarily a turf horse. He was making a move two back when he got guided into traffic in the stretch. And last time he was ridden pretty conservatively, not angled into the clear to hit his best stride until it was too late. I like him switching back to dirt, as progeny of Connect have combined to win 8 of 36 (22%) dirt route attempts. Brad Cox also has solid numbers with maidens going from turf to dirt routes.
Exacta Key Box: 11 with 5,7,9,10
Trifecta: 11 with 9,10 with 5,7,8,9,10