A glance at the morning line odds makes it clear that Mor Spirit is the horse to beat in the Essex at 1 1/16 miles at Oaklawn Park on Saturday. Trained by Bob Baffert, the son of Eskendereya makes his third start of the year after a solid effort in the San Antonio Stakes (GII) that earned the ridgling a 102 Brisnet speed figure (tied with Fear the Cowboy for the best last-race number).
But I’m going to take a stand against him and play Shotgun Kowboy, who I think could lead from flag fall to finish.
Bred, owned and trained (usually a kiss of death) by C. R. Trout, Kowboy has become Trout’s second-leading money winner — right behind Maysville Slew, who won the Essex in 2000 — wire to wire.
Provided he shows up for the post parade with four legs and a tail, I’ll be playing him on top and under Mor Spirit, Dazzling Gem and Fear the Cowboy.