Sunday TimeformUS Highlight Horse: General Banker should enjoy move back to turf

Belmont | Race 7 | Post Time 4:08 p.m. (ET) | TimeformUS PPs are now available on Go to PPs

Battle Scars (#2) is the horse to beat as he drops back down into New York-bred company. He ran very well in his two appearances on this circuit last year. He closed strongly for fourth at Saratoga in August despite getting a wide trip against a rail bias. He then was entered one condition higher at Aqueduct in the fall, and held his own against a tougher group. Since then he’s competed in open company races in Florida, running some solid speed figures. He’s arguably hung a bit in the late stages of a couple of those efforts, and he will have to work out a trip from well off the pace here given his deep closing style.

There are some intriguing 3-year-olds in this field who might have upside. Among those is first time turfer Victory Money (#3). This runner has some pedigree for the surface, being by good turf influence Constitution out of a dam who was best on grass. I think he’ll take to this surface, but he does need to improve quite a bit and I’m not sure he’s going to be an appealing price with Irad Ortiz aboard.

Gem Mint Ten (#4) is another 3-year-old that offers some appeal. He obviously took a step forward with the switch to turf last time, finishing up that race more powerfully than he had in his prior dirt starts. That was just 6 furlongs, but he only hit his best stride at the end, and feels like one that will appreciate added ground. He could be a similar price to the runner drawn inside of him, and I think he’s a much more likely winner.

My top pick is General Banker (#5). He’s developed a reputation as a dirt horse recently for the black type he earned in a few Derby preps earlier this year. However, I always felt this horse was better on turf during his 2-year-old season, and this is the first time he’s getting to try grass after clearly improving over the last 6 months. His last turf race in October was a very good effort, as he chased outside, and made an early bid for the lead while finishing well clear of the third-place horse. I think this one-turn mile is absolutely perfect for him, and he’s also getting Lasix for the first time.

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