Eminency (#6) is obviously the horse to beat as he makes his third career start. He did disappoint as the even-money favorite last time when unable to get the job done after working out a decent trip. Despite that regression, this colt showed ability in his debut, in which he took a good late run at talented winner Agility. Third-place finisher Impressionist returned from that race to win his next start impressively, and the same was expected of Eminency. Now he adds blinkers and gets a rider upgrade to Trevor McCarthy. Yet the latter of those two changes will just ensure that he’s a short price once again, and he faces some others worth considering who exit that same Jan. 9 race.
The one that I prefer is second time starter BEACH BOY AL (#3). This gelding made his debut in that common race last time and arguably ran a better race than Eminency despite finishing just behind that rival. He contested the early lead and engaged in a battle with third-place finisher Raw Courage a long way out from the wire. Beach Boy Al actually surged to the lead in mid-stretch, but understandably got leg-weary late. The early pace of that 7-furlong affair was fast, and it took its toll on this horse in the late stages. Now he stretches out for his second start and should have gained some needed fitness from the debut run. He may have to deal with the early speed of Pineapple Man to his outside, but Beach Boy Al didn’t seem like a horse who necessarily needed the lead in his debut.
I’d also use He’s Got It (#7) and State Planning (#2) from that same race. He’s Got It handled the transition to dirt and stayed on mildly, whereas State Planning obviously has room for improvement after blowing the start and racing very greenly.
Exacta Key Box: 3 with 2,4,6,7
Trifecta: 3 with 6 with 2,4,7,9