Royal Blessing wins Don K Memorial Starter Handicap
Royal Blessing and Francisco Torres drew away from the field of eight in the second round of the $30,000 Don K. Memorial Starter Handicap held at Indiana Grand Wednesday, June 8. The duo covered the seven and one-half furlong event over the firm turf course in a time of 1:32.67.
Starting from post five, Royal Blessing used enough speed early to be a contender around the first turn, and was able to sweep to the lead comfortably heading down the backstretch with Impassable Canyon and Fernando De La Cruz applying some pressure from the outside.
As the field turned for home, Royal Blessing kicked into another gear and drew away from the field, opening up to a four and one-quarter length margin at the wire. Impassable Canyon finished a comfortable second over Hoochie Poochie and Odhair Mayta for third.
Royal Blessing, selected as the favorite of the field, paid $6.20, $3.80 $3.00 across the board. It was his first trip over Indiana Grand’s turf course and the first time Torres had been aboard the seven-year-old chestnut son of Kitten’s Joy.
“It was the first time I had ridden this horse (Royal Blessing) and the first time I have ridden for Mr. (Brendan) Walsh,” said Torres. “I put a little pressure on myself going into the race because I’ve always wanted the opportunity to ride for him because he wins almost everywhere he goes. Mr. Walsh filled me in before the race and said if I found myself on the lead, he would finish well. We got on the lead with easy fractions and he did the rest.”
Royal Blessing is owned by Joseph Strazzanti’s Premier Stables and trained by Walsh. The win was his second of the year in four starts, bringing his career bankroll to more than $250,000.
“He (Royal Blessing) has an odd way of going, but he’s a really tough horse,” said Walsh. “He has a huge heart, and gives it his all every time.”