I’m not thrilled with any of the likely short prices in this finale. The two horses who could vie for favoritism are both switching from turf to dirt. Curlin’s Wisdom (#10) and Excursionniste (#4) had both previously run well on the dirt, but it’s not like their prior form suggests they’re all that formidable here. I prefer the early speed of Curlin’s Wisdom, who was forwardly placed sprinting in his debut. He faded that day, but was racing wide against a rail bias. I don’t know why his connections tried turf in his second start, but he’s probably getting a chance to do what he prefers this time – route on dirt – since he’s by Curlin out of a half-sister to Connect.
Excursionniste ran a respectable speed figure on the dirt two back in the Sleepy Hollow, but he wasn’t really competitive there and he just hasn’t moved forward as much as one might have expected following his second start. I want to get a little more creative.
SALTY HEIR (#3) should get somewhat overlooked after losing his two starts by a combined 30 lengths. However, I think this horse may have more ability than his running lines indicate. He never had a chance against an unusually strong field in his debut, and he took a subtle step forward second time out. He was ridden to chase the pace after a poor start but dropped back on the turn while racing extremely wide. He looked hopelessly beaten in upper stretch but stayed on well through the lane and was actually gaining at the end. He ran like a horse that needs more ground, and his pedigree supports that notion. He’s a half-brother to Lobsta and Chowda, both of whom improved going longer. Whereas they’re both by Emcee, this colt is by established route sire Micromanage, so the distance really figures to work in his favor.
Exacta Key Box: 3 with 4,6,10
Trifecta: 3,10 with 3,10 with 1,4,5,6,7