I’ll be interested to see how the public approaches this New York-bred optional claimer, as I had a very tough time making a morning line for this race. I suppose Full Moon Fever (#3) could attract support off his victory at the N1X level last time. However, I have some doubts about that 107 TimeformUS Speed Figure that he earned, which were validated when runner-up Simply failed to run back to that effort on Thursday. I do think this 5-year-old is in strong form right now, and Mark Hennig has generally done well with these Windylea Farm horses, sporting a positive ROI for that owner over the last 5 years.
I want to go with runners who already have experience at this level. Six Percent (#8) may have been facing a tougher field when he finished third at this level in October. Both Curlin’s Wisdom and the filly Truancy are talented New York-breds, and he took a good run at them in the stretch before settling for third. Yet the time away since that start is a slight concern.
Wild Banker (#1) comes off a victory in a similar spot last time, and is back in for the $45k tag here. Yet he got a great trip that day, sitting off a fast early pace before wearing down the leaders in the stretch. He’s handled a one-turn mile in the past, so I’m not that concerned about the cutback in distance. However, I prefer one of the horses who finished just behind him that day.
BALDIZAR (#9) is the most lightly raced member of this field, and is one of the few in here who still has some upside. I wouldn’t put much stock in his modest speed figure for that allowance victory two back, as he was always well in hand while coasting to victory. He stepped up his game last time, earning a career-best 108 TimeformUS figure. However, he wasn’t able to withstand early pressure going the 9 furlongs in a race where all of the fractions are color-coded red. While Heman Harkie didn’t make any major mistakes riding him that day, I thought he may have let this horse do a little too much in the early going. I like the slight turnback in distance for him, and I believe Jose Lezcano can work out a smoother trip from this outside draw.
The other horse that I want to use prominently is Advanced Strategy (#5). He’s making his first start off the claim for Linda Rice, who is 13 for 29 (45%, $3.12 ROI) with this move over the past 3 months. He’s run his best speed figures on the turf recently, but he’s handled dirt in the past and should appreciate stretching back out after trying 6 furlongs last time.
WIN: #9 Baldizar, at 3-1 or greater