Thursday’s TimeformUS Highlight Horse: Clever Royal looks like a wire-to-wire threat in a paceless race

Belmont | Race 7 | Post Time 4:13 p.m. (ET) | Go to the FREE TimeformUS PPs

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With the scratch of morning-line choice Touchofstarquality and the likely speed Ocean Knight, Economic Model (#1) will probably inherit the favorite’s role. However, I’m not quite sure what to do with him as he attempts to rebound from a poor performance at Saratoga. The main track was favoring inside runners that day, and he was wide for his entire trip. That said, so was his stablemate Threefiveindia, and he was no match for that foe in an uncharacteristically dull performance. I’ve never been this runner’s biggest fan, and I think he’s going to get overbet here.

The Pace Projector is predicting a situation that favors runners on or near the lead, since there really isn’t much early speed signed on. Given that scenario, I’m taking a shot with CLEVER ROYAL (#2), who is now predicted to be in front early.

This horse was claimed out of his last race at Del Mar in July and now makes his first start for the Robertino Diodoro barn. He gets a 93 Trainer Rating first off the claim, and I like that they’re showing the confidence to move him up in class. When last seen, this horse was in the best form of his career, finishing just behind seasoned graded stakes performers Collected, Accelerate, and Danzing Candy in his last two starts at this distance. He has the ability to sit close to the pace in his route races, and there just isn’t any other speed left in this field, except for perhaps the South American runner Big Daddy.

The others that I would want to include somewhere in my wagers are Red Rifle (#5) and Backsideofthemoon (#8). The former makes his first start for David Jacobson. He has great numbers first off the claim with horses switching from turf to dirt. Backsideofthemoon may have made the lead too early last time when drifting down to the worst part of the track late in the race, allowing Securitiz to catch him at the wire. On his best day, he could beat a field like this.

THE PLAY

Win: 2

Exacta Key Box: 2 with 1,5,8

Trifecta: 2 with 1,5,8 with 1,4,5,7,8

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