There is a likely to be a short-priced favourite here in the unbeaten BOLT D'ORO (11). He’d looked promising in his first two starts but really came into his own when sent over today’s distance in a Grade 1 at Santa Anita. He blew away eight rivals with the runner up Solomini (2) almost eight lengths adrift. His winning time was over two seconds faster than the juvenile fillies ran and over a second quicker than a Grade 1 for older gals on the same card. That sort of performance would win this race more times than not. He does draw a wide post but seems to have enough speed to get a good position early on.
For Bolt d'Oro to be beaten, he has to regress or something improve (or a bit of both). Technically U S Navy Flag (1) doesn’t need to get any better. He is after all a two-time Group 1 winner including the Dewhurst Stakes. The question is can he transfer his turf form to dirt. It’s hard to be definitive off his pedigree. What is not in doubt is his class, a fine draw and tactical speed which is often a big asset on the dirt.
Firenze Fire (3) and Good Magic (6) ran one-two in Belmont’s Grade 1 Champagne. They benefitted from fast fractions up front, particularly the winner. Both showed improved form. The runner up is a twice raced maiden who lost by a length to Hazit (9) when both were making their career debuts. The winner had twice finished behind Free Drop Billy (5) when he was runner up in graded stakes over six and seven furlongs at Saratoga. Free Drop Billy seemed suited when stepped up to two turns next time. That was when an open length winner of a Grade 1 at Keeneland. Like the runners coming out of New York, more improvement is required but possible.
Hazit (9) was used up near the pace in The Grade 1 Champagne. The pace profile and this racetrack are likely to be kinder to his running style. He may be joined on the front end by The Tabulator (7). He was successfully upped from sprints to narrowly beat Hollywood Star (12) in a Grade 3 at Churchill in September.
Selection: BOLT D'ORO (11) Exotic Play: (no exotics)