The horse to beat might be #1 Laochi, who breaks from the rail. The biggest knock against her is that she’s already had plenty of chances to break through at this level, and has been short prices in each of her last two starts. However, she was against rail biases on both occasions, and her prior form is superior to that of most rivals in this field. My issue is that she has a tendency to break slowly, which could be problematic as she leaves from an inside post.
I prefer her main rival #9 BAVARIAN CREME. This 4-year-old ran deceptively well in her career debut on Jan. 13. That day featured a strong rail bias early in the card, and she was chasing outside the entire way, going 3-wide on the turn before proceeding in the 2-path through the stretch. She did fade in the late stages, but so did most horses who chased outside in the surrounding races. She was clearly well intentioned that day and she should be highly competitive here if able to reproduce that form over a fair surface. I don’t love that she was a vet scratch when entered back on Feb. 11, but she’s worked well wince then and just seems very logical.
#7 Winter Siren is interesting as she debuts for Charlton Baker. There’s really no pedigree to highlight, but the barn is in the midst of a fantastic meet, and it’s a good sign that leading rider Dylan Davis takes the mount.
A horse that I would try to get into the mix somewhere, primarily in exotics, is #3 Vivazano. She’s had her fair share of chances after showing some promise at the start of her career. That said, she was compromised by a speed bias on Jan. 2 when getting a pretty tentative ride. Then last time she was incomprehensibly rated to the back of the pack after breaking well. She finally gets a rider upgrade to Jose Gomez, who should be able to make better use of her early speed. Yet it’s unclear if she has a winning effort in her, while others have more upside. Upgrade her if the price is right.
WIN: #9 Bavarian Creme, at 8-5 or greater
UPGRADE: #3 Vivazano, at 9-1 or greater