BEST BET: RACE 6, DIGHTON
HOLIDAY PRINCE is unveiled by Steve Asmussen, who at 6 for 17 (35%) had the best hit rate at the meet among trainers as the week began; purposeful work tab. OASHAAR is a half-brother to five winners, notably the long-winded marathoner Eldaafer; top connections do well with first-time starters. WILD IMPULSE is fastest of the experienced runners based on his penultimate effort; caught wide in last.
SWIVEL is third off the bench and dropping to a cheaper restricted claimer after being strung out wide on the first turn against Combat Driver, who returned to win again eight days later; gets seven pounds from OUR LUCK. The latter capitalized on closer-friendly conditions to graduate despite a stumbling start first off the claim; fits well for leading barn. SUGAR GOLD has changed hands in two of his last three; consistent sort may be along for a share once again.
No knocks on WAKE UP IN MALIBU, who tries open company after getting through his New York-bred conditions; has won fresh, and has won previously from off the pace cutting back to six furlongs. FORTUITOUS PATH was a very game second (of 14) with blinkers added at Belmont; may be cycling back to another peak performance after wide trip as the choice. DRUM ROLL super sharp now after consecutive Beyer Figure tops; faces a fight for the early lead with CALL DADDY, POSSILICIOUS and/ or STILL KRZ, who appears to have found a home on dirt.
Probably unfair to penalize FLEXIBILITY for that perfect trip off a three-way pace dispute in the Jerome, because after all he did show tractable speed and a solid finishing kick to take full advantage; he may get another terrific setup in this field. SUNNY RIDGE just missed in the Delta Jackpot with seven weeks off, so he is assumed fresh, fit and dangerous; never taken a backward step by the numbers. KING KRANZ broke through with a long overdue win with blinkers on for the Lost in the Fog, and two subsequent works were solid; intriguing stretch- out may argue the early fractions with ADVENTIST, DONEGAL MOON and VORTICITY.
INVESTIGATOR was only beaten 4 1/ 2 lengths for second when unveiled at the fall meet against runaway odds-on winner Spooked Out; nominal improvement puts him in the hunt in difficult conclusion to the pick five and early pick four. LITTLE BIT A DOMINIC steps up from an above average $ 40,000 sprint when nipped at the line by Taoiseach, who then won an allowance before running a close third in the Damon Runyon; catch him to win. ROSS BOSS and SARATOGA CHARLIE are sons of King’s Bishop winner Discreetly Mine who have posted bullet works recently for profitable debut connections.
DIGHTON couldn’t deal with Dad’z Laugh when that 3-2 shot freaked with a lifetime best 99 Beyer on Jan. 3, but finished well to edge a next- out winner for the runner-up spot; consistent pattern of improvement since beginning current form cycle in the fall. LANE ALLEN had a useful tune-up first out in three months, pressing a fast pace under deteriorating weather conditions that forced a cancellation right afterward; outside stalking trip in store. REGAL MINISTER tries open company after getting his N3L win on the fifth try; hardpressed early by BRASS PEAR, COLLIN’S SMILE, FIRST RANGER (entered not to be claimed first time back) and PERFECT DISCO.
BUILDING PERMIT moves on to the open ranks after a breakthrough effort figure-wise against N2X statebred types opening week; training right along, will likely need a repeat performance. RACHEL’S TEMPER has never been better, while out-running her odds on several occasions since September; takes the worst of it moving from the rail to the far outside after a career top. LA INESPERADA a must-use in exotics after exacta finishes in her last five on fast, good, sloppy and muddy tracks; figures close with THERESAS CANDYROSE based on their photo on the main.
The stakes-placed DONTBETWITHBRUNO has back class to handle the step-up back to allowance company after being claimed from a big-figure win first time back on dirt since the Haskell against youknow-who; capable of grabbing the lead if no one else wants it. FARHAAN won a couple stakes here two winters ago, and could be rounding back to form after a mild rally for third in a spot like this; needs some pace up front. BIG BUSINESS was caught wide early and flattened out behind BULLHEADED BOY in the Alex M. Robb - a race he had won the year before; claimed for a pricey sum two back.
Toboggan, take 3... GREEN GRATTO is in such good form now that he was able to run right through a strong anti-speed bias wiring the Gravesend with a lifetime top figure; no mystery about his tactics in the season’s twice-postponed first graded stakes sprint. DADS CAPS led to deep stretch of last year’s Toboggan and ran down Green Gratto to win a second straight Carter Handicap two starts later; training forwardly for first outing in almost eight months. HEAVEN’S RUNWAY was a decent third behind the choice at the fall meet; has posted 97 Beyer Figure tops in his last three starts on fast tracks.
FAKEITTILUMAKEIT seems to be figuring things out since blinkers came on, capped by frontrunning try in which he saved the place over BORROWED DREAMS; may get loose unless one of the newbies has speed. Borrowed Dreams woke up first time in blinkers; gets off the rail. MILITARY PARADE has turned in three sharp blowouts this month, and rates a long look right out of the box, as do BLARNEY STONES, FLEETING GOLD and GHOST SLAMMER.