Chad Brown seemingly holds a strong hand in this Knickerbocker, sending out 3 of the 10 runners in this field. However, I’m not enamored with any of his entrants and at least two of them figure to attract plenty of support. Public Sector (#10)could go favored here as the mount of Irad Ortiz. However, I’ve been somewhat disappointed with his last couple of performances. Perhaps he didn’t get the best ride at Pimlico last time, but he still didn’t offer much finish, nor did he take advantage of a fast pace two back in the Lure. It just feels like he’s tailed off a bit, and I’m not sure added ground helps him.
I’m more interested in L’Imperator (#5), but I also have some questions about his overall form. He comes in with some of the best speed figures, but one of those was earned when he wired a field over a boggy course in the Fort Marcy. His Bowling Green was solid, but he got away with a slow pace that day, and he doesn’t figure to enjoy the same advantage here.
Pao Alto (#8) makes plenty of sense after finishing ahead of Public Sector in his U.S. debut at Pimlico. He shouldn’t mind the added ground and is dangerous if he takes any kind of step forward.
Safe Conduct (#9) is a horse who must be considered given his running style. With little confirmed front-running speed in this field, it would be no surprise to see Jose Lezcano send this guy to the early lead. He was compromised by a run-off leader when chasing a fast pace in the Lure last time, and he has prior efforts that give him a chance against this field.
My top pick is Pixelate (#6). This 5-year-old has been a little disappointing in both starts this year, but I can make excuses for him. He had to alter course when attempting to rally off the layoff at Laurel two back, and then last time he got a strange ride from Joel Rosario at Kentucky Downs. He was never put in a position to make a run and altered course multiple times through the lane. He has a right to step forward third of the layoff, and this feels like an appropriate distance for him. He has prior form that would make him awfully tough against this field. He just have to work out a ground-saving trip over a course that seems to be favoring rail runners.
WIN: #6 Pixelate, at 6-1 or greater