Best Bet: ALEX THE TERROR (7)
Best Value: RIFF RAFF (8)
FIRST: Jetsam Six bested a next-out winner by more than five lengths when a dominant maiden victor in last; more to come. Bellelarama, another much-the-best maiden winner, has trained sharply in the interim; very dangerous. Spirit Lets Hearit also was a winner in key-race debut; right in the thick of this.
SECOND: Dean Verdile is 3-for-3 on the winterized oval and compiled tight work tab for first start since August. You Know I Know is fresh and could be in the garden spot if pace meltdown ensues. Monster Mash gets price slashed in half in first start since claimed; damaged goods?
THIRD: Highway Star has won five of seven starts and owns favorable stalker’s style. Wonder Gal was just a neck behind top selection after doing the dirty work on the lead last time; dangerous. Chorus Line is 1-for-1 on inner strip and holds razor-sharp current condition; be no surprise.
FOURTH: Irish Marauder logged four tight works since much-improved third in last; more to come. It Must Be Nice was an ultra-game second in last but has failed as the favorite in last two starts; must take the good with the bad. Mar Vista Miguel owns speed and could prove very tough if able to secure an unchallenged lead.
FIFTH: Daring Prospect is riding a forward line on the numbers and should offer generous price in big field. Smile Big makes first start for Rudy Rodriguez after 11-length victory in last; easily could take another. Doukas is another much-the-best winner from the Rodriguez barn; care to flip a coin?
SIXTH: Remstin has trained sharply since fast-figured third in NY-bred stake last time; close call in wide-open field. La Cat Warrior delivered strong, front-end efforts in both starts; very dangerous. Tribecca is fresh and can prove very tough if able to secure an unchallenged lead. Mr. Buff should pack amplified kick with cutback to sprint; don’t ignore.
SEVENTH: Alex the Terror drops two price levels after chasing fast fractions and fading last time; improvement predicted. Patton Proud jumps two class levels after cruising to 8 1/4-length win last time; big-time threat. Sir Bond could be the prime beneficiary if pace meltdown ensues.
EIGHTH: Riff Raff ran past 10 rivals when a last-to-first winner in first start on inner track; pairs up at playable price. Fox Rules has been on the bench since Oct. 26 but owns speed and fast figures; more than good enough if ready. Taoiseach has finished second in last three starts; must be factored into the mix.
NINTH: Shut Your Trappe was a solid third when debuting in 12-horse field on Dec. 17; more to give. Italian Syndicate bested top selection by nearly four lengths when second last time; very dangerous. Chatter Pattern is rested and drops for Rodriguez; must consider. Sunday Soldier and Single Heist both own speed and each must be factored into the mix if able to escape AE list.