04/30/2007 11:00PM

Westchester Handicap preview


Wednesday, May 2, 2007
Belmont Park - Race 8
Westchester Handicap (Grade 3)
1 Mile
3-year-olds and upward
Purse $100,000

PARK AVENUE BALL stalked three wide over an inside, speed-favoring track as the 1-2 favorite in the Artax at Gulfstream, and understandably tired behind the gate-to-wire winner. He won the Grade 2 Futurity over this course and distance as a juvenile, and will now make the important third start of the form cycle with consistent Beyer Speed Figures on display. Two back, Park Avenue Ball just missed to the undefeated Half Ours after breaking awkwardly. He has good tactical speed, and shouldn't be too far away when the field turns for home.
UTOPIA hasn't been out since winning the Godolphin Mile in 2006, but this will be his first start for Godolphin, and the addition of Lasix should have him ready to roll. He showed good speed overseas, and figures to be close early. EVENING ATTIRE's best races have come at either Saratoga or over the Aqueduct main track, and he may want a bit more ground, but he earned a triple-digit Beyer Speed Figure in the Excelsior last time out, and seems to be rounding back into form. He was outsprinted during the middle portion of that nine-furlong test, however, and failed to switch leads in the stretch. If the pace is fast, he'll be closing late.
SUN KING hasn't raced since the Breeders' Cup Classic, but he may be at his best at a mile. The late-runner will use this as a springboard to the Metropolitan Handicap, a race he lost by a nose in 2006. He's the horse to beat, but will be undervalued off the layoff. POLITICAL FORCE turns back to his best distance after faltering late in the nine-furlong Skip Away Handicap at Gulfstream. He may control the pace from the get-go, and his trainer has had an exceptional start to the year.

1. Park Avenue Ball
2. Utopia
3. Evening Attire