This optional claimer is the race of the day, as you can make a case for many runners in this wide open event. Arguably the most intriguing member of this field is #8 Ocala Dream, who came through with a breakout performance second of the layoff last time when beating a strong field in the Kingston. He traveled well every step of the way and produced a nice turn of foot in the stretch to slam the door on that field. A repeat of that 118 TimeformUS Speed Figure makes him dangerous here, but repeating that career-best effort may be easier said than done.
#1 Floriform is a logical alternative as he drops out of graded stakes company. I like the slight turnback to a mile for him, and he ran respectably against some tough company earlier this year. I think his form is a little more exposed than some others, which should be reflected in his price, though he does project to work out a great trip from the rail.
I’m interested in a couple of other 4-year-olds with upside. #6 Hombre has always had ability and showed some hints of talent for trainer Barclay Tagg. Yet he seemed to really take a step forward first time out for the Cherie DeVaux barn. He ranged up powerfully at the quarter pole and dominated that affair through the stretch. He’s stepping up to meet a tougher field here, but he appears to be moving in the right direction and has a running style that should allow him to adapt to any pace scenario here.
My top pick is #7 WINFROMWITHIN. This horse had shown turf ability early on in his career for Todd Pletcher before a series of trainer changes seemed to briefly derail him. Yet he ran well on the dirt when switched into the Jorge Delgado barn even though that’s not his preferred surface. He got back on grass last time in the Cliff Hanger and clearly ran the best race. He contested a very strong early pace – 174 and 145 TimeformUS Early Pace Ratings for those first two fractions – in that race and battled back gamely in a race that was dominated by closers. Some may not trust these connections coming to New York, but this jockey has a pretty simple job. He just has to get him to front end in a race where the TimeformUS Pace Projector is predicting a situation favoring that running style.
WIN: #7 Winfromwithin, at 9-2 or greater