H Man (#2) has to be considered the horse to beat as he makes his first start off the claim for Jason Servis. He is especially dangerous in these situations, and it’s probably a good sign that he’s moving this runner up in class in his first start for the new barn. H Man would not have to improve much, if at all, on his runner-up finish behind the Servis-trained Planet Trailblazer last time. He carved out legitimate early fractions that day and just succumbed to the winner while well clear of the rest of the field. I’m hardly against him, but these low-level claimers are not that reliable, and I don’t want to accept a very short price on anyone.
Some may consider Sparty Boy (#6) as an alternative, but I find him difficult to recommend off his recent form. This horse exploded with an 11-length triumph in very fast time in his first start for the Rudy Rodriguez barn, but it’s been downhill since then. He showed some signs of life when back on a wet track at Parx two back, but his most recent performance at Aqueduct was quite dull.
Instead, I want to take a shot with RO BEAR (#4). These low-profile connections rarely take a ton of money, but this horse should probably be among the favorites based solely on his recent efforts. He easily won while defeating today’s rival Halloween Harrow the last time that he raced in a straight claiming event. Since then, he’s faced tougher optional-claiming and allowance foes, yet he has not disgraced himself in any of those performances. He had little chance chasing the very fast Charlie McCoy two back, but he nevertheless stayed on well to finish just a length behind the runner-up. And then last time, he took advantage of a good trip while finishing just behind Papa Shot and Horoscope, both of whom would be heavy favorites in a race like this. A one-turn mile is his best distance, and Harry Hernandez seems to ride him well.
Exacta Key Box: 4 with 2,6,7
Trifecta: 2,4 with 2,4 with 1,5,6,7