Empire Classic Handicap (10/24/20)

Belmont Park, Race 10 (for NY-breds)

#1 Our Last Buck 15/1

Positive sign of professionalism setting the 63/71 REV (Reversal) pattern in his first try around 2 turns, he caught a string of sloppy tracks which tend to carry speed before settling back into a 60/71 last out. The Final Figure needs some improvement, but he'll get a little more distance to move forward late with the dirt spreads (4F minus Final) going from -8 in the March route on a dry track to a -11 last out. There are several runners here looking to set 4F Figures in the 70s so there's a possibility he could get a good set up if he can learn to relax and pass horses late, something he hasn't had to do yet hailing from lower ranks however.

#2 Mr. Buff 5/2

The form of early 2020 included an 80/77 that would blow this field away within a string of 3 victories. However, we've now seen both his 4F and Final Figures regress in 4 straight starts leading to a needed layoff. He took a similar break earlier this year before starting a campaign that regressed downhill.

#3 Funny Guy 2/1

Runner has been professional taking 2 of his 3 route tries while showing good versatility to a range of different distances. His 8 furlong try allowed him to put a little more on top at 71/76 but when going longer to 9 furlongs, he relaxed to 4F Figures of 68 and 65 and re-produced those 76 Final Figures. The last out sprint was a bit uncharacteristic popping a +5 spread while he had traditionally been running more compressed when sprinting in the past. Plenty of past signs he'll handle this distance well to give him a pass on that last race.

#7 Sea Foam 4/1 vs #8 Evaluator 12/1

Both runners sport the NPT (New Pace Top) Pattern but it seems to have been earned under different conditions. With Evaluator, let's consider sloppy tracks can often carry speed so there's a question on how that 13-length romp will translate to getting back to a fast track today with more challenging rivals. He showed some good development young with several Form Cycle Patterns but hasn't put together many tries in the last couple years. With Sea Foam, The 78/74 NPT last out is especially powerful because it was earned coming off a 60+ day layoff. We would typically like to see an NPT runner turn around and race back a bit quicker than today's 63-day layoff, but we've seen this one be able to hold good form through rest periods in the past.

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