Both Christophe Clement runners figure to attract support in this New York-bred maiden special weight event, but I can’t say that I’m convinced either one is worth taking at a short price. #5 Topic Changer is the one with experience, having closed for second in a maiden claiming event on debut. He didn’t get a particularly strong speed figure for the effort, and finished far behind the winner while just barely edging out some inferior rivals. He has to do better to contend here.
#10 Olympic Dreams is perhaps more interesting as a first time starter for a barn that does well with these types. However, it’s not really a turf pedigree, as his dam achieved all of her wins on turf, and his lone sibling is dirt runner Frost Me. That said, he is by Medaglia d’Oro so he does have a right to handle this surface. It won’t be a shock if he fares well here, but I don’t need him as the potential favorite.
I’m interested in a couple of runners trying this surface for the first time. The more logical of the two is #6 Compromiser, who merely has to transfer his solid dirt debut performance to the grass. That’s often easier said than done, but he does have pedigree to handle turf, being a half-brother to 2 surface winners. He lacked speed in his debut, but was really finishing with interest, as Trakus caught him getting his final quarter in 23.51 seconds. He goes out for low-profile connections, but he appears to have real ability in a race where others have yet to prove their quality.
My top pick is #9 CONQUIST. He obviously has to take a step forward with the surface switch, but I’ve been waiting for this colt to get a chance on the grass. Nyquist is just a mediocre turf influence, getting 10% turf winners overall, and there’s limited pedigree on the dam’s side. Yet this horse just moves like one that should take to turf. He has a big, loping stride that should lend itself well to stretching out on the grass. I would have liked to see him run a bit better in his return last time, but John Kimmel doesn’t do that well off layoffs. Kimmel is, however, 5 for 33 (15%, $4.83 ROI) with maidens trying turf for the first time over the past 5 years. There isn’t much speed in this field, so he should be able to get to the front end through moderate fractions, and I’ll find out if he can handle turf at a square price.
WIN: #9 Conquist, at 4-1 or greater