Curlin’s Wisdom (#9) is clearly the one to beat in this N1X allowance affair, which is a split division of today’s eighth race. He has really blossomed this fall for Linda Rice, finishing in the exacta in each of his last 5 starts, including a 3-race winning streak as he skipped through his New York-bred allowance conditions. He put forth one of his finest efforts two back when he just missed in the Empire Classic, and he maintained solid form last time despite settling for second at this level. However, I am a little concerned about the turnback in distance to a mile. He seems to have achieved his best results since he stretched out to 9 furlongs, making full use of his ample stamina. It’s unclear if he can be as effective over this shorter distance, and there are some worthy rivals in this spot.
The biggest wild card is Up to the Mark (#6), who will seek to get back on track after a couple of disappointing efforts. I won’t be too hard on him for his 9-furlong loss two back when he was facing a better field for this level and chased an honest pace. Yet he didn’t have an apparent excuse last time when he was uncharacteristically sluggish on the turnback to 7 furlongs. I do get a little worried when these Todd Pletcher runners lose their early speed, but this colt clearly has the ability to beat a field like this with his good effort. I just want to go in a different direction with another lightly raced option.
WATASHA (#8) makes his first start off an auction purchase for $120k and trainer switch to Bill Mott after starting his career with Chad Brown. He took a couple of races to figure things out, but he seemed to put it all together when he returned from a layoff this fall, showing improved early speed to dominate a field of maidens over this track. He was also flattered when runner-up Southern Flag came back to win with a 109 TimeformUS Speed Figure. He disappointed when he stepped up to this level last time, but the trip just didn’t work out. He broke a step slowly and was bumped soon after the start, relegating him to the back of the pack. He made a decent move into contention on the far turn, but was always out of position. I like this stretch-out to a mile, since he can make better use of his tactical speed from this outside post position. He’s certainly bred to go this far, as a half-brother to 29-time dirt route winner Our Caravan and marathon runner Muralist.
WIN: #8 Watasha, at 3-1 or greater