The three major contenders are, from inside, out: Maddy’s Lion (5-1), My Cousin Matt (5-2) and Royal Moment (3-1).
Maddy’s Lion might offer value given his lower profile connections. He’s a two-time winner on this surface and all five lifetime wins have come at today’s distance. He was narrowly beaten last time out and is versatile, either as an off-the-pace runner or a stalker from close range. Pablo Fragoso takes the re-ride and trainer Tim Hills is a profitable 19% efficient when his horses make their third starts off a layup.
My Cousin Matt is, from memory, the horse with the best performance figures. The 9-year-old veteran won both since starts following Tony Dutrow’s claim, even if one came last season here, necessitating a lengthy layoff. But he returned at Delaware Park Oct. 28 with a game come-again victory in an unintended match. He, too, is a dual winter-track winner and he owns eight victories at today’s six-furlong trip. Ramon Dominguez rides him back here.
Royal Moment is a sharp winner of his latest and was claimed from Steve Asmussen by Gary Contessa, pretty much a wash at this level. In fact, Contessa is a profitable 19 % first time off the claim and is another at home as a rallier or a stalker. He has finished off the board once in 14 starts at the distance, including four wins, and loves the surface, evidenced by his (5) 2-1-1 slate. Elliott gets along nicely with this guy and retains the mount despite the barn change. His outer position in a relatively small field should insure a pleasant trip.
Royal Moment is the percentage play at 5-2 or greater. Also, key him in exactas first and second with Maddy’s Lion and My Cousin Matt.
Running Totals: (159) 57-34-17. Total Dollar Return: $358.40 [win selections only}