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Last week the Royal Oaks trainee LOCK N LOAD smartly made all and wired leg 2 to deny the Triple Crown bid of GOTCHA BABY. While the heavy action remained elsewhere in the betting, this time digitaldowns punters had wisely “spread” in what turned out to be another salty field.
With both GOTCHA BABY and LOCK N LOAD set to enjoy festivities in there stalls for leg 3, the Triple Crown high drama is noticeably absent for tomorrow’s race. Despite the void a Triple Crown bid or a “rubber match” between the leg 1 and leg 2 champions we still have a big money race pitting some of the best horses and trainers together. Let’s meet the field.
#1 THE WAR TROLL
Royal Oaks who won last week’s Preakness event sends out this sophomore filly who makes her first appearance this series. She’s been racing against softer foes in the mid level claimers and starter allowance ranks notching 1 win so far this season. She has a bit of back class having raced in the Juvenile Champ Route Final where she was troubled 9th. While the steady diet of mile races leading to the stretch-out trip was a winning move for this barn last week (LOCK N LOAD, Royal Oaks) this runner appears to be a bigger threat over the turf and would need to take a big step forward off her 3 YO resume to compete for top honors.
#2 DRAGON FIRE
Seems like long ago, but its been less than 3 months since this 3 YO won the Juvenile Route championship at big odds. As they say someday chicken, someday feathers. Its been the ladder for this son of TARRASQUE who’s been unplaced in just 4 starts at 3. He has had a 4 week freshening, hoping to capture that magic he had last season in yet another big spot. He’s won twice at this 12F trip, but we’ll need to see which dragon shows up to determine how much of a factor he is.
#3 PHUTURE PHAROAH
I keep waiting for this runner to get out of his own way and win one of these Triple Crown races, but he’s disappointed thus far in both previous legs. While the leg 1 race was encouraging he was a complete no-show last week in the Virtual Preakness finishing 7th. Its important to note, that the 10F trip was by far his worst trip having never been involved at any stage. He draws the problematic 3 post, and appears to be well out of his element going this distance. I like the jock switch back to Bejarano who usually gives a patient ride at this distance.
Leading conditioner TNT sends out the Juvenile Route Champion for the second time this Triple Crown series. In the Digital Derby leg 1 she was used hard from her outside post trying to get the lead, but faded after a half to be 11th. She’s been facing divisional foes in hopes of getting her elusive 3 YO win. She just raced on America’s birthday going 12F and I wonder how fit she can be after just two days of rest. Hard to trust for top honors with the 0 for 12 start to her sophomore campaign, but can be a factor in the minor board placings if she’s at full strength.
#5 YATTA YATTA
Another horse who’s burned plenty of money at the windows this Triple Crown series, while handicappers have played the “rebound”. He was a sure winner in the Digital Derby until fading to 5th in deep stretch. Last week he was a well beaten 8th and last after racing further off the pace this time in hopes of conserving something for the lane. The once consistent gelding has now dropped his last 5 decisions, most of which, displeasing to the eye. In a field of stetch-outs and others in poor form, he might just be the best option to grab the lead and not look back. My tepid top choice.
#6 GOOD LOOKING FACE
A familiar “face” in this series having finished ITM in both previous legs. Last week’s 10F Virtual Preakness, appeared to be his “amends race” given his running style and affinity for the marathon distances. He received the solid pace up front to make his late run, but no one challenged the free-wheeling leader and LOCK N LOAD held well clear. He’s been the most consistent of any of tonight’s runners and someone I struggled with leaving out of the top spot. My concern is the lack of pace with just 6 other starters and how far back he may be when they start turning from home. My 2nd choice.
The 2nd of the two TNT-owned entry and another who’s had trouble finding that consistency they relished as a juvenile over to their 3 YO season. He’s gone a bit better of late since starting the season in an 0 for 10 slide. He’s always been a tough customer at this 12F trip and the outside post should help him relax and settle into stride. He’s back in with homebreds tonight, but appears to be the best of the rest and my 3rd choice.
Picks: 5, 6, 7