Thin White Duke (#11) has to be considered the horse to beat off his performances two and three back at Saratoga. He signaled his improvement with that close third-place finish behind Golden Pal at odds of 30-1 in the G3 Troy. Yet he then validated that form next time when winning a slightly softer Lucky Coin Stakes. He got great rides and trips on both occasions, but things didn’t work out as well last time in the Belmont Turf Sprint. He was always too far back over a yielding course where the winner dominated up front. He’s clearly better than that and can rebound here if any pace develops.
My top pick is NOBLE EMOTION (#1), who should get the right trip from his inside post position. He rebounded from a disappointing effort at Saratoga in July to win a tight photo at this level a month later. However, he was unable to replicate that form at Woodbine last time when defeated by a rival he had beaten in his prior start. That said, he didn’t get the best trip that day as he was out of position early before launching a mild premature bid that quickly flattened out. I think he’ll be more aggressively handled from the rail here as he’s reunited with Jose Ortiz.
The other horse that I would use is Maxwell Esquire (#3). He started off his 5-year-old season the right way, winning at this level. Things have gone awry since then, but he hasn’t really had a fair chance in either start since getting claimed by Mike Maker. He was going too far with a wide trip two back, and last time couldn’t close in a speed-dominated race. He may fare better here if he gets some pace up front.
WIN: #1 Noble Emotion, at 7-2 or greater