by EMILY GULLIKSON
#6 GOOD MAGIC (7-5) as both the morning line favorite, and the likely post time favorite is a logical favorite. He is tough to knock on OptixPLOT, and both his class, OptixFIGs and OptixNOTES Grades are solid. Any concerns would be a function of the layoff and the track, should he for some reason not take to Gulfstream Park. He did have a near perfect trip in the BC Juvenile, but did still run a winning race. Looking over the rest of the field, based on current form and reasonable projections he remains the horse to beat in this spot.
#8 MARCONI (8-1) is still lightly race and moving forward with each start. He is void of red keywords and coming into this off both X_BIAS and IMPROVE. He has not shown speed from the gate but has shown the ability to move early and sustain a late run, something more favorable than just a one run closer. He has marked himself as a distance type, MARATHON, an asset moving toward classic distances. The connections are always dangerous and the return to Castellano is noted.
#2 FREE DROP BILLY (9-2) a clear second behind a freaky good effort from Audible last out in the Holy Bull. He can certainly win, seems to run that same race each time and gives an honest account of himself. The problem is those efforts are decent but unexciting. He has yet to give that “wow” performance that would signal a push, at the same time tough to completely knock.
#1 HE TAKES CHARGE (20-1) has shown ability since his debut at Saratoga, finally broke through win a win last out. A couple things about that win give some hesitation. One, granted it was a solid effort, but he was looking a bit tired late and flipping leads, recovery time might not be enough for this class test. Secondly, the quality of that maiden field is questionable. While he has shown talent, just need to see a bit more facing this level of competition.
#3 PEPPERED (30-1) flashed talent on debut at Woodbine and backed it up with two consecutive good races. His last effort out at CD in the Kentucky Juvenile Stakes is forgivable based on the post and early trouble with the loose horse. At this point in his career, and there is still upside, it is a stretch to make the case that he will jump forward in this spot.
#4 STRIKE POWER (4-1) is not likely to get a lone lead here and with pressure and his natural quickness early there are questions about him sticking around late. His late visuals in both starts despite the open length wins were less than ideal. Admitting that I am being a bit harsh on a horse that has rattled off two solid wins, those visuals are tough for me to get behind at this stage in his career, especially at a short price.
#5 STORM RUNNER (15-1) since his near huge upset on debut, he has continued to be a hard knocking, maybe even an overachieving type runner. His run style looks favorable to this race shape which could be in his favor. The biggest concern is class. His last win came in restricted allowance company resulting in a B grade, solid but not enough of an effort to think the step up in company could be handled, for the top award at least.
#7 GOTTA GO (10-1) did not look fully cranked last out in the Swale Stakes. He should be a lot tighter for this second race back off the freshening. Two-turns and this stretch out in distance still remains unknown.
#9 MACHISMO (15-1) made a giant leap to break his maiden last out. Not only will he have to overcome the REGRESS? in last, he will have to do it around two-turns, with pace pressure and facing winners.
#10 PROMISES FULFILLED (20-1) has to answer the question on distance. Based on his juvenile races he looks more one-turn; though not seen in more than three months maybe there has been some growth. In those three starts, he has done nothing wrong; no red keywords, and is the only A- Grade in this field. He’ll have his work cut out for him with this post and run style but has some GRIT and could stick around to be a “best of the speed” type. One that is worth including, especially underneath at those odds.