I suppose #10 Devil’s Outlaw will attract plenty of support in this finale as he returns from a layoff and makes his first start for the Chad Brown barn. This will also mark his turf debut, as all of his prior starts came over all-weather going in Ireland. While he did run well in a few of those overseas starts, he appears to be a horse that has quite a bit of hang in him. He got winning trips in a few of those races and just seemed all too willing to let rivals pass him in the lane. He’s bred to be a good one, as a half-brother to Brown’s Grade 1 turf winner Competitionofideas. However, there are some younger rivals with upside in this field, so I don’t want to just default to these connections at a short price.
I have similar feelings about #1 Urban Forest, who is among the most experienced members of this field. His turf races have been pretty good, but he’s never run a particularly fast speed figure. I do like the turnback in distance for him, but it’s not as if he was meeting particularly tough fields when he ran well at Aqueduct last fall.
There are a couple of runner from lower profile barns that I find more intriguing. One of those is #9 Smoke and Heat, who makes his turf debut for Tony Dutrow. This horse has plenty of pedigree to handle the surface being by Street Boss out of a turf-winning dam who has also produced a turf winner by Tonalist. This horse ran on well in his dirt sprint debut, but was striding out like a horse that should have no problem transferring his form to turf.
My top pick is another son of Street Boss. #2 STREET FIGHT made two starts on grass last year, and I thought he ran pretty well each time. He was facing a decent field when he made his turf debut last summer at Saratoga, and he stayed on well after contesting the pace. He subsequently finished third by over 6 lengths in his only other turf start at Monmouth. However, that was an unusually strong field for that venue. Winner Unanimous Consent is now a stakes winner and still undefeated in 3 starts, while runner-up There Are No Words returned to break his maiden by over 10 lengths. This horse is on the smaller side, and will probably appreciate the slight turnback to 7 furlongs. He also goes out for a barn that hasn’t yet started any runners this year, so he figures to fly under the radar.
WIN: #2 Street Fight, at 5-1 or greater
UPGRADE: #9 Smoke and Heat, at 5-1 or greater