For us, this comes down to a three-horse affair, including both halves of the Saeed bin Suroor stable entry, Council Member and Afrashaad (6-5), second favorite First Word (3-1) and short-sprint specialist T.D. Vance (6-1).
The entry will be hard to beat. On performance figures Afrashaad is the fastest horse in here and by a significant margin. If he takes to the grass at all, being a first-time turfer, he will probably lead throughout. Stablemate Council Member showed an explosive turn of foot on the main track at Belmont this spring but won listed sprint stakes on turf in Europe. They will be formidable.
First Word is a Bobby Frankel trainee who finished second after making a bold mid-move in the listed Notoriety Stakes at seven furlongs. The turn-back suits his running style and Frankel is effective with horses shortening up. Grass maven Edgar Prado gets the call.
T. D. Vance is the interesting horse at early line odds. Never off the board in short turf sprints, he earned a good figure at this distance on the Keeneland turf last fall. A fresh five-year-old gelding, he’s stakes tough and won the Grade 2 Hall of Fame here as a three-year-old. Garrett Gomez, aboard for that Keeneland sprint, takes the call. He’s been working very well at his Fair Hill training center base.
We’ll take T. D. Vance to win at 4-1 or greater. Also making an exacta box with either or both halves of the Suroor entry and a trifecta part wheel of T. D. Vance and the Suroor entry first with those two and First Word in the second and third trifecta positions.
Running Totals: (79) 34-17-10 Dollar Return: $197.70 [win selections only]