Rudy Rodriguez holds a strong hand in this starter allowance affair, sending out a pair of contenders. #4 Perceived could go off as the favorite after running a strong second at this level last time in his first start off the claim for Rudy. He got a pretty good trip that day and was just second best to the improved Rocco Strong, finishing ahead of today’s rival Group Hug. This horse owns plenty of prior speed figures that make him formidable against this group, but he’s going to be a much shorter price than the 9-1 he was last time.
Rudy’s other horse #2 Midaswellrun is more interesting to me. He’s stepping way up in class after defeating $30k maiden claimers last time. However, I liked the way he took control of that race in the late stages, opening up on the field across the wire. He was flattered when the horse who defeated him two starts back, Rock Sugar, returned to win here impressively earlier in the week. I have him as a major player, but there are others to consider.
Some may take a liking to #5 Purple Hearted off his blowout win last time, but he was riding a gold rail that day. The aforementioned #6 Group Hug is always a contender in races such as this, but he often settles for minor awards. I actually prefer a runner who finished behind Group Hug last time.
#1 FULL MOON FEVER showed improvement off the claim for Mark Hennig two back, dominating a claiming affair in the slop. It appears that he regressed last time out when moved up to this level, but he had some subtle trouble in that spot. He attained forward position coming out of the chute, but got steadied between horses about two furlongs into the race, losing position down the backstretch. He never stopped trying after that, but the pace was very slow and the leaders failed to back up. I expect him to get a more aggressive ride from the inside post position this time and believe he’s a candidate to rebound at a square price.
WIN: #1 Full Moon Fever, at 7-2 or greater