Red Smith Handicap
I debated not making any selection in this race because I think Lauro is pretty solid. But I came up with a possible alternative at a price so perhaps its worth a tilt. First off I'll start my saying that Lauro doesn't really look vulnerable. Although he is not going to be able to lead this race like he did at Woodbine he could easily just outclass this group. The one oddball horse I'd use against him is Wheels Up At Noon. At first I wondered what on earth he was doing in this race but trainer Douglas Fout is perhaps better known for his success with jumpers. I always think it noteworthy when a jump trainer takes a horse who has never really tried distance races. This is his first time stretch out and he's being shipped in from Maryland. I'm betting Fout has him ready to go this far. He's got good tactical speed and from the outside he can get a good look at the field and pace before deciding where to slot in. Some may think he's a bit short on class but he did show enough talent to beat Silver Tree so I'm not that worried about it.
Wheels Up At Noon
A very even field on paper, it will be quite interesting seeing how the bettors settle them out. I think the top four finishers exiting the Durham Cup are the main ones you have to use. I have taken to ranking the entire field in the order of my preference and those four come out as my top selections. I do think the order of finish will be slightly altered though. I'm not going to use Palladio on top, not because he can't win but because he is no better than the rest and the odds of him beating them twice in a row aren't good. He's 4 races into his form cycle and he's not a young horse. it's hard to keep the old ones on edge. I think Torquay has a huge shot to turn the tables on his rivals. I'd love him all the more if this race was 10f but even at this distance he has a huge shot. This season has been a disaster for him but his last race was his best of the year and it's perhaps a sign that he is getting good in the fall again like he did last year. He was just coming off a layoff in the Durham Cup and he looked a bit rusty. The recent sharp workout should have him ready for a peak effort. You should get a nice price on him because he's 0 for 6 this year. Marchfield is the class benchmark. He's is nearly a lock to be in the top 3 and I'd be surprised if he missed the exacta. The trouble with him is that he's always the same, and thus is always susceptible to a horse stepping up. Last time out it was Palladio, this time it could be Torquay. Artie is the most brilliant of the quartet but struggles to produce consistently. He likes route races on Woodbine's main track but it's hard to know when he going to be at his best. His rather listless morning sessions have me leaning towards ranking him last of the four. If you want a stranger in case the Durham Cup form falls to pieces I'd look at Stunning Stag. I think he might get bet down a little because of his hot recent form and I don't like the outside post but he is a horse in the zone and he has always appreciated two turns at Woodbine. I won't use him as a primary but he would not shock me. Marchfield is the horse they all have to beat and Torquay is the logical price horse. I suspect Palladio will run a solid third.