#2 LIAM’S MAP – Ran an unbelievably strong race in the Whitney as he nearly pulled off the win. This field looks loaded with speed, but none of them will be able to run with Liam’s Map if he fires his best race. To me this one goes one way of two ways: Liam’s Map shows up with another big effort and runs them off their feet, or he shows up with a dull effort and it becomes wide open. I’m looking for a big performance obviously since I’ve made him me top pick. Go to the front and don’t look back…
#8 PROTONICO – Plectcher enters four into this one, and perhaps Protoncio is the most intriguing. Last time out he beat Noble Bird at Chruchill Downs, and then Noble Bird came back to crush in the Stephen Foster next time out. So we know the class is there, but why haven’t we seen him in four months? The layoff may drive up the price, but Pletcher is usually pretty good off layoffs so I’m willing to give him a big shot. Might be the classiest horse in the race.
#4 BAY OF PLENTY – Got a big win over the track last time out, and if you draw a line through his Met Mile effort you can see he’s been pretty consistent. This is a class jump for him for sure, but he should be ready for the challenge since he’s been competitive with a few of these already. He most likely is not going to get the trip he got last time, but he can still hang around in this race for a piece of it.
#7 EFFINEX – I’ll keep this one short and sweet…If the race were at a mile and a quarter I think he’d be a top contender to win this one. This horse needs that extra furlong to run down a quality field like this, or at least have a very hot pace up front. I can’t see all the front runners backing up enough for Effinex to catch them, but he will come with a run like always.
#1 WICKED STRONG – Felt like last time out in the Whitney was his best race of the year, but he still was beaten by six lengths. As of now he might be one of the most disappointing horses of the year as it seems like his connections are searching for some way to get him back into the winners circle and haven’t had much luck. He’s not impossible in here, but its just not logical that he will win.
#6 COACH INGE – Has ran three straight really solid races in a row, and even though he finished third in the Suburban he ran extremely game considering the hot pace he set in that race. Two problems came up for me in this one that made me prefer others a little more though. First, he could be on the back end of the Pletcher progression system meaning I don’t believe we’ll see his top effort here. Secondly, the distance might actually be a little short for him today. This horse might be a distance specialist as his strongest race ever was at a mile and a half.
#5 MYLUTE – Off his debut win with Todd Pletcher my hopes were pretty high, but since that race Mylute has returned back to his old self. He has never been what I would call a “bad” horse, just an average one. He was a non-factor in the Suburban, but did improve last time out to finish second in the ungraded Alydar Stakes at Sartatoga. That race wasn’t terrible, but h has not shown enough to make me prefer him over some of the others here. Not impossible, but not not likely either.
#3 COMMANDING CURVE – The lone throw out in a race which is otherwise very much up for grabs. However, if this horse wins I will quit handicapping for at least a few hours! No chance.