Today’s feature, the West Point Handicap for older state-bred runners at nine furlongs on the Mellon Course is usually a good betting race and this renewal is no exception. But it’s a little too good (read hard) of a wagering event.

We left five horses open for consideration. Each has merit, obviously, but they will need the right trip, the smartest handling. From the inside, out: Classic Fran (8-1), Dave (3-1), Golden Commander (5-2), Red Zipper (4-1) and Pa Pa Da (10-1).

Classic Fran has always been competitive with this group but seldom has gotten over the top. Now it goes first time for Gary Contessa, a profitable 21 percent efficient off the claim and picks up Rafael Bejarano, 1-for-1 aboard the horse. An alert break is desirable here since there will be traffic to deal with if he lags in the early going.

Dave is a horse for the course (5) 2-1-1 and comes back off the month layup for Barclay Tagg, profitable in that scenario. Second in this race last year and with competitive performance figures, he’ll be happy to be back at the Spa.

Golden Commander loves it here (5) 3-0-1, benefits from a brief freshening and has go-back figures that are tops in the group. He reunites with Edgar Prado, aboard for his last win, and hails from the Serpe shed that’s lifetime profitable at the Spa and in non-graded stakes, and he’s one of the live trainers at this meet.

Red Zipper comes from a key race that produced three next out winners and drops from open Grade 1 company. One for one on Spa turf and (2) 1-1-0 at nine furlongs, he can set the pace or stalk from close range. He will appreciate the turn-back from 10 furlongs.

Finally comes Pa Pa Da, a big price on the early line who probably should have won last year’s edition, coming from far back after being virtually eliminated at the start. Dave Donk, profitable in non-graded company, switches to Ramon Dominguez, and they are 27 percent profitable as a team.

Like I said, this one’s tough, and we won’t take a short price.

We’re betting Red Zipper to win at early line odds of 4-1 or greater, and keying him in all three trifecta positions with the other listed contenders.

Running Totals: (78) 34-16-10 Dollar Return: $197.70 [win selections only] {Saturday’s results not included}