I’m not wildly against either favorite in this state-bred maiden special weight event that closes out the card, but I also don’t want to default to either at a short price. #10 Highgate Road is probably the horse to beat as he drops out of a solid try against open company in his career debut at Tampa Bay Downs. He faced a solid field that day and earned a respectable 93 TimeformUS Speed Figure for the performance. The problem is that he’s going to be a short price getting a rider upgrade to Jose Ortiz, and these runners don’t always translate their form coming to New York. Catherine Day-Phillips is also 0 for 13 with maiden second time starters on turf over the past 5 years, with just one hitting the board.
#1 Mr. Connecticut appears to be his main rival as the other short price in this affair. He ran well in all of his starts last year. He looked like he needed a race when fourth in a solid maiden event on debut, and then just missed second time out. He finished off the board as the favorite in his 2021 finale, but he was essentially blocked for the entire stretch drive. He’s better than that, but Christophe Clement doesn’t have particularly strong statistics off layoffs. I don’t see that much speed in this race, so I want to lean in another direction towards a runner who should be forwardly placed.
#12 BARREL OF QUESTS is a horse that I’ve been waiting to see back on turf. This colt made just one start on turf last year in his career debut, and he didn’t run nearly as poorly as it may seem. He got a little rank heading into the first turn and then raced 3-wide without cover before fading late. He got some time off after that and has returned with some improved efforts on dirt. He actually made a nice middle move going a mile in his return, and then last time showed improved early speed in the slop before settling for second. I think he’s getting back on the right surface as a son of turf winner Barrel of Joy, who has already produced 2 multiple turf winners. He also could play out as the controlling speed if ridden as aggressively as last time.
WIN: #12 Barrel of Quests, at 7-1 or greater