Friday TimeformUS Highlight Horse: Watasha should get better pace setup

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

There is quite a bit of pace signed on in this allowance affair. Excellent Timing (#6), Ikigai (#7), and Rotknee (#8) all seemingly need to be on the lead to have their best chances, and they can’t all vie for the front end without giving away some of their ability to finish. Among those three, Ikigai is shown just slightly behind on the Pace Projector, but he’s the one that might have the best chance to break clear of the field. He is so fast out of the gate, consistently leading after the first couple of jumps, and that could give him an edge here. I do have some doubts about his overall quality, but he could be a factor until very late in the race if he takes the starch out of those chasing him.

The good news is that there are some closers to consider. The most logical of those is Who Hoo Thats Me (#9), who will step up to this level for the first time after clearing his New York-bred conditions. He consistently runs well, though he’s not the most reliable win candidate, even when he gets favorable pace setups. I do wonder if he’s best going slightly farther than this, and he just seems a little obvious for my liking.

If I’m going to take a closer, I’d rather go for a price. Watasha (#2) owns the highest Late Pace Rating of anyone in this field (LP flag on the Pace Projector) even though he hasn’t been particularly competitive in his last few starts. Yet I think he’s had some significant excuses for those results. He was compromised by a slow pace going a mile in December when he actually did well to get up for third. Something seemed to go wrong in January, and he subsequently got time off. His return might look like more of the same on paper, but he didn’t get a good ride that day. He was shuffled back early, held up on the turn, and then only allowed to run on belatedly. He’s clearly better than that and may work a better trip this time if the pace spreads this field out.

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