01/14/2009 1:00AM

Look for Our Royal Affair close to front


OZONE PARK, N.Y. - Trainer Bruce Brown hopes the frosty conditions predicted here Friday aren't as bad as advertised. Firstly, he is scheduled to leave for Florida early in the afternoon. Secondly, he has the horse to beat in Friday's featured starter allowance at Aqueduct.

According to weather.com, the temperature at noon here Friday will be 16 degrees with a wind chill of 2.

Brown hopes that is not bad enough to cancel racing, as he plans to run Our Royal Affair in Friday's $43,000 six-furlong starter allowance for older horses who have started for a claiming price of $50,000 or are eligible for an open first-level allowance condition. Our Royal Affair, who won his first three races, all against New Jersey-breds, finished third in a similar spot as this here on Dec 31. In that race, which was run in windblown snow, Our Royal Affair was caught four to five wide yet was beaten just a neck by Great Emperor in a blanket three-horse finish.

"He was pretty wide the whole way," Brown said before winning Wednesday's featured starter allowance with Kiss and Fly. "Usually, he's pretty close. Last time, he kind of laid back and had to come around the field."

That race was Our Royal Affair's first start in two months and first for Brown. Our Royal Affair had won his first three starts for Jason Servis at Monmouth Park and the Meadowlands.

In a race without much early speed, Brown hopes Our Royal Affair will be closer to the lead than last time under Ramon Domiguez from post 6.

Pay in Kind enters this race off a solid 3 1/2-length win in a $20,000 claiming race on Dec. 14. He overcame post 11 to gain that victory and has appeared to breeze well since that race. He could play out as the main speed under Anna Napravnik from the outside post.

Half a Note has not been out since June, when he was eased in the stretch of a starter allowance on turf. Last winter, he ran four solid races at this level on the inner track for trainer Linda Rice, who has excellent statistics bringing horses back off a layoff. Chuck Lopez, aboard for those four inner-track races, is back aboard on Friday.

Wolfson, Irish Blast, Merlin Circle, and The Truffle Man complete the field.