Regal Quality (#6) will be tough for this field to handle if he repeats 112 TimeformUS Speed Figure that he earned last time. He worked out a good trip that day but beat a pretty nice horse in Daddy Knows, who returned to win his next start with a similar number. Regal Quality is just in great form right now for Rudy Rodriguez, and it doesn’t appear that 9 furlongs is a major issue for him given the way he ran two back. You just have to accept a shorter price this time on a horse with 14 career second-place finishes who is now trying to win two in a row.
Rudy’s other runner Prioritize (#7) is also logical on the class drop, if a little less trustworthy. He looked like a claim that might work out at the time, since he had an excuse on Dec. 31. However, he failed to step forward last time, and is now immediately plummeting in class. There are some red flags, but he handles the distance and has plenty of races that will put him in the winner’s circle.
An enigma in this field is Blewitt (#3). He’s always dangerous when he makes the lead going 9 furlongs. However, it’s unclear if he’s fast enough to outrun Striking Speed to the lead. He also ran his two best recent races for the Rob Atras barn, and he significantly regressed first off the claim for John Toscano last time.
I want to go in a different direction with MICROSCOPE (#8). This gelding has been popular at the claim box recently, and he’s actually held his form pretty well from a speed figure standpoint. He’s been beaten by a couple of rivals that he meets again here, but I like the stretch-out to 1 1/8 miles, and the addition of blinkers could signal that he’ll make better use of his tactical speed. Pat Quick is 4 for 24 (17%, $2.39 ROI) first off the claim over the past 5 years. It’s not like he’s exiting particularly live barns, so I think there is potential for some improvement.
WIN: #8 Microscope, at 9-2 or greater