I shared the results of my 20-20 Profile for this race yesterday and given the fact that I developed the profile my handicapping thoughts are going to heavily influenced by it's results. Battle of Hastings is not a difficult horse to come up with on top. He's a tough and consistent little horse who does not look completely genuine at 10f but he should be good enough to get the job done. The scratch of Nicanor means that he'll be favored and he might even go as low as 2/1. He is not an overpowering horse but he consistently grinds out results. The Virginia Derby has often played to class and he's got a ton of class. I'll be interested to see what price Hold Me Back is offered at. He's a much better prospect for the Turf transition than stablemate Court Vision was last year and that one came up a nose short for the same trainer. Hold Me Back should be flying late and I do expect him to have some kind of impact. Lime Rickey is another closer that should be included in the bottom of your exotics. Straight Story has yet to run a poor race on the grass and his Colonial Turf Cup was a most interesting race indeed. Had he not been shifted out into the center of the track he logically would have benefited by a length or two. I'm not sure that it would make him a winner though since Battle of Hastings seems to idle a bit in front. He would have responded if he had seen him. Still Straight Story looms a major threat. I may also include Florentino on some tickets, not only because he ranked well in my profile but because I was very impressed with him earlier this spring when he came to Keeneland. I thought he would gallop his rivals off the track in the Transylvania but the soft ground made him come a bit unstuck. Back on firmer ground he was not to be caught in the Jefferson Cup. There is a good deal of pace in here on paper but I don't think anyone wants to get suicidal. I think the pace will be solid but it won't cook the speed. But Battle of Hastings could do even better here with a healthier pace to run at.
Battle of Hastings
My play in this race hinges upon the buccaneering spirit of Steve Klesaris and Puglisi Racing. Their horse, Livin Lovin, is cross entered in the Delaware Handicap and the Delaware Oaks which is run the previous day. I think she would win both races but she'll be 2/1 in th Oaks and more like 7/1 in the Handicap because it's against older fillies. I happen to think that the Handicap is not a very tough race at all. Unbridled Belle is the horse to beat but how many times have we seen this horse go from world beater to money burner in back to back starts? Her last race was very impressive but that almost increases the confidence I have to go against her. She ran a huge race off a layoff and could be vulnerable to a regression. Acoma is the other threat in here but I think she'll flatten out going 10f on the main track. She might be able to get the distance better on the grass where she can reserve her energy and make on quick burst but the main track demands more speed earlier in the race and I think we'll see her move into contention but flatten out in the final furlong. Livin Lovin is another one of those Birdstone sophomores. She has never been this far but she is bred for the distance and she has been getting a lot of stamina building works. Those works are the main reason that I think she'll be in this race instead of the Oaks. As a 2yo Lovin Lovin showed remarkable promise. She has the ability to cruise near the pace and still accelerate quickly when asked. She might even have the most speed in this race and could find herself in front. She blew the break in the Acorn so you can discount that race although she still performed with credit. She has a win over the track and looks like excellent value to score an upset over her elders.