When the going gets tough, the tough throw deep. Not sure that’s the best philosophy but we purposely chose the toughest race of the day, a secondary allowances for older horses sprinting 6-1/2 furlongs featuring fast horses from top barns–but with many coming off extended layoffs.
The default would be either Mutaasabeq (2-1), who hasn’t been seen since winning last year’s Mucho Macho Man Stakes, or Collaborate (6-1), so well regarded and so impressive winning a mile event here last year that the connections felt he deserved a chance in the Florida Derby.
And, of course, there is a now horse, Bank On Shea (3-1), with his fast figures and faster connections, Carlos David and Irad Ortiz Jr. However, as advertised, we’re going for the gusto.
Violent City (15-1) is coming off a lengthy layup for the team of Ian Wilkes and Julien Leparoux, But sprinting is what he wants to do, he has won fresh, and broke maiden in Hallandale on debut here in 2020. Now a five year old, he returns to a surface he loves and as a first-tome gelding.
He, too, owns bullet works and if he breaks on time, Julien can settle him in behind what rates to be a strong early pace and, if good enough, can pull off an upset. But if he runs well and catch match his classier rivals, he still has a chance to breaking into the verticals at a big number. Check out his sprint win at Churchill as an ability indicator.
Wilkes has been on a bad roll of late so a price should be assured. A win play and vertical use beneath those mentioned could help start the new year on the good foot.
Betting Violent City to win at 15-1 or greater and key boxing exactas and trifecta.