There’s plenty of speed in this $25k claimer, but Steam Engine (#8) could be the so-called “speed of the speed” as he makes his first start off the claim for Rob Atras. This gelding is always sharply away from the gate, and rarely isn’t in front at the first call. His last couple of starts have been on the dull side for him, but he got involved in a very fast pace that fell apart last time. It’s not a great sign that he’s dropping in for $25k after getting claimed for $45k, but Rob Atras places horses where they can win, and this is probably just the right spot. I view him as the horse to beat, and he could make things tough on the other speed types.
Dark Money (#2) should sit a good trip from just off the pace under apprentice Jose Gomez, who has been riding very well as of late. However, he was beaten for a cheaper tag last time and really just has that one effort from November at Belmont among his recent starts that makes him a serious player here.
I prefer GOLANI BRIGADE (#3). This runner’s recent form at Finger Lakes is solid. He ran particularly well last time when he survived a very fast early pace to hold off a couple of closers. That form was flattered when third-place finisher Fitzpatrick returned to run well at Aqueduct in a tougher spot. Golani Brigade has plenty of prior speed figures that make him competitive at this level and Jeffrey Englehart’s horses have run reasonably well at this meet despite the fact that he has just one win coming into this week. I’m hoping Dylan Davis can work out a stalking trip from the inside.
Exacta Key Box: 3 with 1,2,6,8
Trifecta: 3,8 with 3,8 with 1,2,6,7,8