Undefeated in four starts, Brightwork already dispatched next-out, graded-stakes winner and fellow Alcibiades entrant V V's Dream in the Debutante Stakes before shipping to Saratoga and winning the Spinaway (G1). This test marks not only her first time as favorite but also her first time around two turns, and I am willing to oppose her at a short price.
There are two other contenders in this race following the scratch of Emery in favor of the Frizette. They are V V's Dream, who avenged the disappointing Debutante by running off the screen in the Pocahontas Stakes (G3), and first-out, maiden winner Candied.
Admittedly, I preferred Emery over either of those, so her defection to Belmont at the Big A definitely has me keen to see how she fits there and at what price. As for this race I'm now on V V's Dream, who looked awesome when winning the Pocahontas, and trainer Ken McPeek has thrown down the gauntlet by saying he welcomes a rematch with Brightwork.
Candied is a bit of a wild card, because her debut was not what I normally expect from a well-meant, Todd Pletcher-trained 2-year-old. She did not take much money when making a four-wide move to just get up. Still, the number came solid, and she is in the mix with any improvement second out.
Wine On Tap figures to be the field's biggest underlay. There is some sheepishness involved with making a Pletcher trainee this long a price in a 2-year-old stakes, but she has burned money, losing two straight stakes as the chalk. Tapit juveniles do improve later in the year, and her dam is a graded-stakes winner around two turns, but I absolutely have to let this one beat me at the expected price.
From a wagering-strategy standpoint, I think the same edict has to apply to Brightwork as the favorite as well. I expect V V's Dream to be worth a win bet, and I'll also back that up with an exacta with Candied.