Royal Realm (#3) is a deserving favorite as he drops back down in class to a claiming race after picking up minor awards at the starter allowance level in his last two starts. He was simply second best to the talented Texas Swing that day and was justifiably favored when he came back at the same level last time. He was never beating No Burn, who ran a surprisingly fast race. However, I thought this horse was a little dull in defeat, after getting good early position. A repeat of either of his last two speed figures still make him formidable here, but I’m most interested in an alternative at a better price.
ROCCO STRONG (#4) ran a strong race going this distance back on Oct. 17. The problem is that his surrounding performances don’t quite measure up. That said, he has had some excuses in his last couple of starts. He actually had tactical speed in that Nov. 11 affair, but his rider allowed him to lose position in the opening furlongs, and he couldn’t rally into a slow pace. Then last time he steadied in traffic coming out of the chute and then never looked comfortable striding awkwardly over that sloppy track. I like him stretching back out in distance and it’s encouraging that the blinkers also come off. I’m hoping Dylan Davis can give him an aggressive ride, as he seems to do best when he’s forwardly placed.
I’ll primarily use Rocco Strong with the favorite, as well as with Purple Hearted (#6) and Big Castle (#8) in exotics.
Exacta Key Box: 4 with 3,6,8
Trifecta: 3,4 with 3,4 with 1,6,7,8