Meanwhile, it appears that Christophe Clement has this surrounded with a strong uncoupled entry of Nergal (7-2) and Operation Red Dawn (3-1). His main contenders appear to be Al Basha (6-1) and Pick Six (6-1).
Nergal is a late developing five-year-old gelding whose performance figures have been forging forward incrementally, indicating further development is possible. He draws the fence, attracts Ramon Dominguez, and appears to class up nicely given his recent third in the Grade 3 Cliff Hanger at the Meadowlands. The 1-1/16th miles suits nicely.
Operation Red Dawn is the logical favorite and most probable winner. He has been highly competitive in recent graded stakes, including a very game third despite a wide trip over soft ground in the G2 Kelso Handicap. But it’s his versatility, an ability to act over any footing, that suits him very well here and does reuniting with Alan Garcia, aboard for this gelding’s most recent victory.
Al Basha has disappointed often this season but it’s not as if the 4-year-old hasn’t raced well on most occasions. His figures are competitive and consistent and the switch to Rajiv Maragh augurs well considering the success he’s enjoyed riding for Angel Penna Jr. this season. Interesting to note, too, that Penna is 38 percent profitable in these non-graded stakes events.
Pick Six, meanwhile, is very sharp, improving with competitive figures and has been going well recently with today’s partner Cornelio Velasquez. He must prove, however, whether he’s as effective at today’s trip as he is going a bit shorter.
We’ll opt for whatever value is offered on Nergal to win at 7-2 or greater, keying him first and second in exactas with Operation Red Dawn and Al Basha--extra ticket with the former--and in trifectas as well, adding Pick Six, and the fast strong-working absentee, Buddy's Humor (8-1), to that mix.
Running Totals: (312) 95-64-41. Total Dollar Return: $650.20 [win selections only]