The Repole and St Elias Stables entry figures to take plenty of money in this opener, of which Crupi (#1) appears to be the stronger half. His two starts at Saratoga, both at 7 furlongs, looked pretty similar. He lost contact with the field in the early stages of his debut, was put to intense pressure on the turn, and finally responded through the stretch, passing horses quickly to nearly get up for second. He was slightly more engaged early in his second start, but still looked fairly sluggish, not kicking into gear until the stretch. I think he has to show some improvement to break his maiden here, but he is bred to appreciate added ground.
Stablemate Mindtap (#1A) was a little chilly on the board in his debut, and that seemed like the weakest division of three maiden races on that Sep. 3 card. He got a pretty good trip, racing inside early before angling out into the clear on the turn. He had dead aim on the tiring leader through the stretch, but seemed to stall in the last eighth. He’s also bred to appreciate more ground, but I think both of these Pletcher runners are facing a formidable foe.
SIGNATOR (#2) debuted over just 6 furlongs last month despite looking like one that wants more ground. He raced between horses in mid-pack early before advancing into the clear in upper stretch. The eventual winner got away from him at the head of the lane, but this grey son of Tapit lowered his body and lengthened his stride impressively on the run to the wire. He also proceeded to gallop out well clear of the winner. His Phipps-bred female family traces back to second dam Furlough, who won the Grade 1 Ballerina. Shug McGaughey is 8 for 30 (27%, $2.60 ROI) with maiden 2nd time starters going from sprints to routes on dirt over 5 years. I expect him to win today, and I suspect this colt could have a very bright future.
WIN: #2 Signator, at 6-5 or greater