#2 Cousteau has gone favored in each of his 7 starts, yet he owns just a single victory to date. The horse has some talent, but he’s been an underachiever throughout his career. That trait was on display last time when he was unable to capitalize on a perfect setup, setting a slow pace before getting run down in the stretch. It’s not clear that he really wants to go a mile, so I’m reluctant to take a short price on him even as he drops in class second off the claim for Linda Rice.
Some may look to #1 Emperor’s Cause as an alternative, but I’m a little skeptical. While he’s making his first start off the claim for the dangerous Rob Atras barn, his form prior to dropping in for the tag was pretty spotty. He ran reasonably well last time but did so against a weaker field than this, and now he’s catching some legitimate rivals who are dropping out of tougher spots. I’d be more interested in the others exiting starter allowance events.
Blu Grotto and Rock Sugar return out of the same Feb. 26 race, in which both were soundly defeated. I find it more difficult to trust #5 Blu Grotto, who lacks early speed and has been totally unreliable as of late. His best effort is surely good enough to win here, but he has completely failed to show up in two of his last three starts.
I’m more intrigued by #6 ROCK SUGAR. He did have things working in his favor when he broke his maiden two back, as he may have been on the best part of the track. His first start off the claim for William Morey was undoubtedly a disappointment, but he appeared to get discouraged right from the start when racing out of position. He got shuffled all the way back to last at the quarter pole before staying on mildly. I think he’s better than that, and he projects to be in a more favorable position stalking a moderate pace this time.
WIN: #6 Rock Sugar, at 5-2 or greater