Steve Asmussen shows up with a solid pair in this race including the projected favorite, #1 SPARKY HALE. As shown on the Plot, Sparky Hale should track in a favorable forward position as a Square in Quad I with the advantage given the lower SpeedRate. The “Sun” Contention which comes into play on Surface/Distance could assist #2 TOTALIZER, in a tracking role as a Large Quad II Square. Class should also assist Totalizer as he will find a drop today from his two most recent starts, race with higher OptixFIGRANGE (OFR) than today’s event. As far as Sparky Hale, this class change is more of a lateral move out of the races he has been entered and racing at over at Sam Houston.
The distance of this race could present a challenge in terms of stamina for #2 EKATI’S VERVE, #5 ENGLANDER and #7 TOMA TODO, all horses that hold OptixNOTES Keywords to suggest SHORTER, ONE_TURN or NO_FINISH when running in route races.
#6 WARTIME HERO moves forward in this event with the favorable Surface/Distance OptixPLOT position stalking Englander and Toma Todo as a Quad I Square. The class and distance change is positive, exiting the higher-level allowance at the 12-furlong distance here just three weeks ago.
#3 GREAT FACES should find a similar stalking trip as Wartime Hero; however, he lacks the same finishing ability as a smaller Square. This will be his second start off the claim and he should benefit from the change in distance returning to a route of ground from the sprint just 18 days ago. While positive intent could be projected here, Great Faces must improve off his C OptixGRADE last out and from his races at the similar claiming condition and OFR this season as today’s race does not present any type of class change.
A value case can be made for both #1 TILLIS and #4 SUN DADDY on form (OptixGRADE/NOTES) to offset their Plot position today as Quad IV Circles. As far as the Plot itself, the “Red” PlotFit should be taken into consideration and both Tillis and Sun Daddy come into this race as still lightly raced four-year-old runners with upside available.
Tillis will make his first start off the claim today and freshened for this return given the 47-day break. He will return under similar conditions and OFR from the Feb. 19 race where he was given the BTL Keyword for the effort in that show finish. The rider (TACTIC-) handling along with the far outside draw played a role in his finishing position. He is upgraded (BTL) with that show finish running against a profile where the top two finishers of that race were forwardly placed and finished together at the wire.
Sun Daddy will also return from that same common race on Feb. 19 similarly receiving the TACTIC- Keyword as well as picking up rider change in his first start off the claim. As far as today’s 9-furlong distance, he has been tested and proven at this route of ground from his races last season at Woodbine. Granted his OptixFIG that fit today’s OFR were run on the Tapeta surface rather than today’s dirt surface, he has those numbers to run back to in order to compete here. This will be his third start of the meet and he has yet to be in a spot to run to his top effort. He was placed above his abilities back on Jan. 8, his first start of the meet, and looked to have “prep” intention with that class level and first start off the layoff.