#8 HIDDEN PROMISE has a longshot look in this field and offers up as an alternative in this starter allowance. In terms of speed figures (OptixFIG in RANGE) and class (OptixGRADES) he stacks up in today’s race. Ortiz will send out this gelding first off the claim with this barn sending in live runners to start the meet. Hidden Promise has run some of his stronger numbers here, and that likely part of the decision to claim him back on Nov. 26 for the higher $20k tag with this meeting right around the corner. The route distance is a big unknown with just two starts around two turns in his career. Both of those starts were recorded early in his sophomore season while in the maiden ranks and run on off-tracks back in early 2020. This spot is as good as any to test him at the route distance bringing along live connections, and could find the right pace scenario with his current form (Standard) as a stalking Quad II Square.
#1 TEZ will wheel right back for Diodoro coming off the place finish at this condition here two weeks ago. Tez recorded a solid B OptixGRADE, an effort competitive for the level. Trip is key and has to be considered as he could be favored given his off-the-pace running style and Quad IV Plot position. #6 EXEMPLAR was scheduled to run in that same Dec. 3 starter allowance, though was a late scratch as the 5-2 morning line favorite. While certainly capable, he does not have the strongest record here or at this starter allowance level, factors that make him a softer favorite should he land in that role today.
#7 JACK’S ADVANTAGE also returns from that Dec. 3 starter allowance staying on as the “best of the speed/BOS” for third. The “Fire” Contention and honest 45 SpeedRate could present a challenge for him in terms of pace once again without much of an edge as a Quad I Circle or his Surface/Distance Quad IV smaller Square. #3 HOME RUN TRICK could find himself as today’s “best of the speed” type with his positional speed at the first call (furthest left on Plot) and slightly higher than his Quad I rivals above the Par Line. Finishing ability is questionable (Circle) and will be put to the test under today’s pace dynamic.
#2 CHICORY BLUE finds a lateral class change exiting the Dec. 4 claiming race (along with Home Run Trick) with the 90-84 FIGRANGE, the same class par today. However, he does not hold any edge projects to be part of that early Contention and is the lone “E” RunStyle in this field, a contributing factor to the SpeedRate. #4 PRAETORIAN also plays a role in the Contention and Speed Rate stretching out to a route off his recent sprint races noting a change in his Surface/Distance Plot position. This group will be joined up front by #5 SLICK SILVER stepping up in class off a taxing (HARD OptixNOTE Keyword) effort just 13 days ago, and some regression could set in today. #9 FLATOUTJUSTICE will make his second start off the claim and returning to the this starter allowance level exiting the common race 15 days ago. His C+ OptixGRADE two weeks ago is below average for this class level and his OptixFIG also track below the FIGRANGE for that top spot.
#2 LONE ROCK has been assigned the 8-5 morning line and as the projected favorite in this race has the look of a vulnerable favorite. He was well-meaning and well-rewarded in the Aftercare Alliance (G2) on the Breeders’ Cup undercard. His placement as of late by Diodoro has been exclusively at marathon distances and the connections could be looking into the Temperance Hill Stakes, a 12-furlong event, that will be run in April this year. The change in distance does not provide Lone Rock any edge over the others in this race to justify leaning on him at a shorter price, especially with other alternatives and contenders in this field.
His stablemate #6 THOMAS SHELBY will be tested for class today though has been able to find success with “LONE” leads in his recent races. That very ideal scenario for him could take place here looking at the Plot. He has the advantage on the first call (furthest left) and is likely to see Cohen use that advantage to try and separate early, looking to pull off the “upset” gate-to-wire.
The “Snowflake” Contention can assist a runner like Thomas Shelby, however, the 43 SpeedRate also has to be considered. #1 HUGE BIGLY also shares the EP RunStyle though could struggle at today’s class level to establish early position. The rail draw and hustling Reylu Gutierrez are likely to try for the lead, even if they drop back at the second call as his Standard Quad III Circle position suggests. Both #5 TENFOLD and #7 WARRIOR’S CHARGE sit above the Par Line, a factor to suggest the pace will be honest. Without much between the two horses the board will be the deciding factor splitting this pair. As they also lack an edge in this race as contenders, the pattern of finishing in the money can continue for this duo.
The race shape should be set up ideally for #4 TITLE READY (contender/value) as he has some tactical speed shown on Standard sitting as a Large Square in the center of the Plot. He comes into this race in good form making his second start off the layoff gaining fitness from the one-turn mile last month at Churchill Downs to prepare for this race. His positional speed should allow for first run on #3 BEAU LUMINARIE and Title Ready holds a class edge with a series of graded stakes appearances for Stewart.