Might be all feathers in the winner circle with either the improving Eagle or comebacker Noble Bird. Eagle showed he might be a force in the older horse division when he gamely ran down the stubborn Noble Bird in his last. Decent record at CD and he's pretty much running against a similar group. Noble Bird likes CD and that should only help, combining that with third start off layoff, and shorter distance should make him harder to track down. Top Billing hasn't been the horse people thought he would be since his 3 yr old TC campaign but looks like he's getting better and is healthier.
Going with West Coast Invader Nodiac and improving Heavenly View. Feel like the distance is perfect for Nodiac and he always shows up in a race. Like Prat on him and if he can get a clear run, should be right there. Heavenly View seems to a different horse on turf. Hoping he keeps that up and with J. Velasquez/Pletcher combo worth a shot in here.
I'll be going with the bridesmaid of Songbird, Land Over Sea. Consistent runner that showed she is a better 3 yr old and ran well in her last to win a stakes race. Liked her race against Songbird two starts back and feel that she is getting better and like her chances in here (especially with Songbird out). Also like the longshot Royal Obsession. pretty consistent filly that I feel might be coming into her own after her last performance. Liked her a little closer to pace and ran a game second in the mud. F. Geroux has won with her before. Third pick would be the untested Go Maggie Go. Seems to have some tactical speed and shows grit every time albeit in only two starts. Won a solid race off a maiden (jumped to a Grade 2 race). She still has more to prove as others have more foundation but I think she will make a nice impression in this race (again no Songbird).
Sticking with my top three
1. Gun Runner
3. Mor Spirit
Interesting article. Appreciate the insight.
Liked Gun Runner since his debut race in the Risen Star. I think he has tactical speed to be placed in a nice spot regardless of pace scenario.
As of now, my top three are Exaggerator, Mor Spirit and Gun Runner (in no particular order). Exaggerator still hasn't found Nyquist's number yet but he seems to be getting better with each start as a 3 yr old (three preps - nice breakout move in SA Derby albeit on sloppy going) and should adapt to classic distance. Mor Spirit is a consistent runner and his last two looked (to me) like he wasn't really being pushed by Stevens in the stretch but still finished in the money (both 2nds). Seems to have some tactical speed as he is never too far behind pacesetters and Baffert/Stevens combo is always dangerous. Gun Runner just seems to be getting better with each start and the added distance in the LA Derby showed that he is better the longer they go and he has some tactical speed. He broke his mdn at CD and ran decent 4th in KYJC (Mor Spirit finished 2nd) over sloppy track.
I'm going with West Coast invader A Red Tie Day with Stevens in the irons (most likely the pacesetter but feel like he's improving and finally healthy to make some noise in this spot). Also like Idol Porteno (liked his first start in the US against nice stakes company on dirt. Decent past performance on turf and should be formidable 2nd start in US).
I'm leaning toward Page McKenney (been on fire the last four starts albeit in lesser stakes company), S'Marvelous (nice win in NO and think he is getting better with age and under Maker's care) and International Star (disappointed in last two starts but his overall beyer is getting stronger and has chance in here).
Don't think Swipe is cranked for this (first race off layoff) but by class alone he should be right there. I like recent mdn winner Direct Message. Liked his last two (with Lasix) and has shown likes two turns). At 15-1 ml odds worth a long look here should Swipe not fire his best and Collected gets some early pressure from likes of One More Round, Riker, etc.
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