I’m still trying to figure out how #1 Maxwell Esquire went off at 3-1 last time in a spot where he looked very logical. He’s kept some strong company over the past year, and was just getting the class relief that he needed dropping into that optional claimer to race for a tag first off the layoff. He also got a surprisingly strong pace to close into, as heavy favorite Artemus Citylimits ran off on the front end. He now makes his first start off the claim for Linda Rice, who is just 3 for 22 (14%, $0.73 ROI) first off the claim in turf sprints over the past 5 years. He’s dangerous again, but he is meeting a couple of talented rivals.
#2 Matta was in strong form last year and has run well on this circuit before, having upset a Saratoga allowance field at 14-1 last year. However, he’s returning from a layoff and may be better off going slightly shorter than this.
My top pick is #6 VOODOO ZIP. Although he concentrated on route races for the majority of his career, I thought put forth some of his best efforts turning back to sprint last year. He ran very well to get the job done on July 11 last year when closing over a turf course that was favoring speed. He then showed the ability wo in at today’s distance in October when slicing through the pack to get the job done. He’s only raced once since then, when returning from a layoff at Gulfstream last month. However, he didn’t get the right trip that day, as he was in traffic right from the start and was just never in a position to do any serious running. He’s better than that and should benefit from having that race under his belt.
WIN: #6 Voodoo Zip, at 9-5 or greater