I imagine that Gulfport (#4) will once again get bet down to favoritism in this Hopeful even though he lost the Saratoga Special as the odds-on choice. Some may contend that he could have won that debut if not for the trouble on the far turn, but I thought he just didn’t possess the quickness to maintain position when Damon’s Mound made his move. He enjoyed an uncontested lead when he won the Bashford Manor so impressive two back, and I’m still waiting for him prove his quality against tougher rivals.
Mo Strike (#5) seeks to make it three in a row after winning the Grade 3 Sanford early in the meet. I liked the way he finished that day as he responded to pressure late, drawing off from his main rival Andiamo a Firenze, who did come back to win off that performance. Mo Strike seems like one that should handle added ground, and he’s drawn well outside of his main pace rival. I actually think he’s the horse to beat in this spot.
Some will be intrigued by Blazing Sevens (#6) off his impressive debut win for Chad Brown. However, Brown has poor stats off debut wins in dirt sprints and I’m not in love with the race this horse exits.
My top pick is FORTE (#2). He did finish well behind Mo Strike in the Sanford, but I thought he was compromised both by the moderate pace that race and the intense kickback on opening week of the meet. This colt had been impressive in his career debut, and I don’t think he’s going to have to deal with as much traffic in this smaller field. He galloped out strongly last time, and I think this 7-furlong distance is going to suit him well.
WIN: #2 Forte, at 2-1 or greater