But there are questions: For one, why did this $275 yearling debut for $100,000 for the powerful Darley Stable? Further, he was reluctant to load into the gate. Will that be the case again vs. stiffer company, and why no gate work coming into this, although hopefully he was schooled.
Trainer Tom Albertrani in any case gave him 54 days of recovery time to bring his back and he has worked steadily since debut. The fact that none were of the bullet variety suggest he might be more than simply a precocious speed-crazy youngster. Should he run back to his debut, the competition is racing for minor honors.
Other horses of major interest are Jess Not Jesse (8-1), Taqarub (5-1) , Fellow Crasher (4-1) and Prince Charming (9-2).
Taqarub was another impressive maiden breaker in fast time, albeit not as fast as Pop Artist, but it was a visually impressive win over tougher rivals.
Jess Not Jesse is interesting because he will offer value at 8-1 or more. But his first two races were on turf, including a Canadian G3, then made his dirt debut showing good early speed--a change of pace effort--before finishing third. Ramon Dominguez, winning everything in sight recently, takes the ride.
Fellow Crasher ships in with experience and fast figures. The problem is knowing how to translate his good 5-½ furlong efforts into six furlongs here. But the drop into a claimer for the first time augurs well, as Tony Dutrow is a profitable 27 percent with that angle.
Prince Charming was ambitiously placed behind Back Water Edison in the G3 Nashua Stakes, getting bogged down on the inside in that mile contest. But he switches outside here, enjoys a pace edge with his tactical speed and kick, benefits from a switch to an outside position while reuniting with Javier Castellano. His half-mile breeze in :48 on 11/26 was 14th fastest of 170 two-year-olds to work out that week.
Taking Prince Charming to win at 4-1 or greater, keying him first and second in exactas with Pop Artist and Fellow Crasher, and in trifecta and superfecta money positions with all horses here, plus sharp-working price shot Fotographia (15-1).
Running Totals: (322) 97-66-44. Total Dollar Return: $680.80 [win selections only]