Both feature races this weekend are hugely competitive. This race could go to any of the entrants but it is because of that fact that I chose it as an opportunity. Octave is the class benchmark. She's done nothing wrong her whole life, she has a win over the track and it's hard to envision her running poorly. But she is not an overpowering horse and oddly enough she has never won a race around two turns. I think it might be worthwhile to play a few horses over her in the exacta. As I said before I could make a case for every horse in the race but I am going to stick with the two fillies that I believe are the most talented. I think when all is said and done Octave, Folk and Lady Joanne will be the best trio to emerge from this field. They may not all run their races this time but I think by years end they'll have confirmed their class. Folk ran a monster race in the CCOA Oaks and I think she is certainly entitled to turn the tables on Octave. She was slightly rank early on coming from the long layoff and really only surrendered in the final 100 yards. Her stable is razor sharp, she'll have come on tremendously for that race and speed is more dangerous going two turns. Moon Catcher does worry me though which is why I'll use Lady Joanne as well as Folk. Lady Joanne nearly matched Octave in her first test against real class. Her last race was a fraud, but given Nafzger's penchant for prepping I don't think it matters. She is not really bred for 10f but physically she has the look of a distance horse. She will be very tough. I also have respect for Panty Raid, she carries the dangerous "other Pletcher" angle. She is very capable and she ran one of the best races of her life over this track last summer. Prado knows how to get it done on her but I don't think you can use everyone.
Lava Man can certainly win this race but I think he is there to be bet against. You're never going to get a good price on him and there are enough interesting alternatives to take a shot elsewhere. I like closers on this surface, I think very few of these horses will actually stay the distance and Lava Man may find it tiring. Tiago is a horse on the upswing who will love every inch of ground. I think the world is at his feet right now and he is a serious contender. He's a closer but he's not a stone cold one run closer. He doesn't have to be last and I think that will give him an advantage over the Mitchell pair who are both going to be trying the same tactic. I kind of like Big Booster, I think he may be a better price than his stablemate Sun Boat and he essentially offers the same thing. He nearly got to Lava Man at Hollywood and that's a better form reference than anything Sun Boat has. I guess Arson Squad and Awesome Gem could both win but I don't love either at the distance and I really think you'd be better off taking Lava Man than those two.