The Fair Grounds offers a nine race Friday card with decent field sizes and a lot of competitive racing this afternoon. One note that I would suggest to players focusing on the Fair Grounds is to really go back and watch the replays as much as possible. I think the chart caller comments for DRF don’t always do justice to the trouble a horse may or may not have had.
Best Bet on the Card: Race 8: #8 Late Night Mischief (Turf only, 6-1 ML)
Most Likely Winner: Race 7 #8 Guilty Lover (3-1 ML)
Race 1: 4-2-3
Four of the seven in this race are exited a common race, Race 2 on 1/6/21. If you go back and watch the replay, you’ll see Annie’s Shenanigan (4) probably had the roughest trip of those four, being forced to steady and lose position in the first furlong. Then she went about 4 wide and then had another traffic incident in the stretch. Despite this, she finished 4th, only 4 ½ lengths behind the winner, and only 1 ½ lengths behind the morning line favorite, Goingtoagogo (3). Her best race was where she rated off the speed at Canterbury this summer, and I think with a better trip, she can work out a similar trip here. Beautiful Bella (2) is one of the newcomers to this division, as she drops in for a tag for the first time. Her two efforts on grass with maiden special weight company at Louisiana and Evangeline are her two best races. Goingtoagogo (3) also had some traffic issues in the stretch, in the 1/6 race, leading to a few others getting the jump on her. She finished a decent third, but she has had many chances. I think she’ll put forth a credible effort, but I’m not sure I love her on top.
Race 2: 1-3-2
This is a strong optional claiming/starter allowance contest. I’ll look to Woman With A Book (1) to pull the mild upset. He’s been really good in his last two starts and now makes his first start off the Amoss claim. Amoss opts to protect him from being claimed, which is a positive sign that this gelding is doing well. Overzealous (3) is a deserving morning line favorite after winning at this condition by over four lengths three weeks ago. It is worth nothing that race was a race taken off the turf, so this field should have a little more depth. He’s never been off the board locally with 3 wins in 5 tries. Zanesville (2) also is coming off a big effort in an off the turf race at this level. He’s been in the best form off his career ever since being claimed by George Leonard at Indiana Grand back in August.
Race 3: 8-4-5
I’m not in love with Adina (8) in this spot, but there doesn’t seem to be a lot of competition. She faced a better group of winners last out for the first time and had a pretty rough trip. She drops in to $5K N2L claiming two starts removed for being claimed for $10K when she broke her maiden, which isn’t ideal, but, she looks better than these. I’ll make a case for second choice Roman Jewels (4) to step up in this spot, after a dullish effort at two turns at Delta last out. She’s third off a layoff and back with state bred company, but I’m not sure 6 Furlongs is where she’ll excel. Foursweetnieces (5) had a rough go in the opening furlong of her last start with better. It’s hard to tell if she would have run better had there been no contact early on, as her previous start was below her norm as well. Perhaps the softer field will wake her up.
Race 4: 6-4-2
I’m A Cowboy Too (6) was in very good turf form before going on a three month hiatus. His return was a disaster, and his last race was transferred from the turf to the dirt. He showed improvement, but his best game is on the grass and he should get that today. I think 8-1 might be a bit of a pipe dream, but I like him a lot in this spot. Greeley Went West (4) only has two career starts on turf, but those race are where he owns his two best career speed figures. I thought his effort two back was strong and he should be right there at the end as well Payday Too (2) is also in his third race off the layoff, but he’s first off the claim, as Faucheux plucked him at this level last out. He was a bit wide, which should be rectified from his inner draw here. His turf record isn’t great, but I think he could improve in this spot.
Race 5: 8-7-9
This is not the easiest race to get a read on, but there are a lot of horses that want to be forwardly placed, so I’ll try Sworn Silence (4) on top, in the hopes that she can get by them all in the stretch. She’s been in the money in all of her last six tries, but hasn’t won any of them. She was pace compromised in her last two races, but still ran on well. I don’t love that Murrill hops off this one and rides the other Hartman horse, Money Inthe Stars (1), but I think her last race was really good and I think Hartman may have figured this one out. Money Inthe Stars beat N3X claimers for this tag last out, and now moves to N2X/N4L company, which is a little deeper. She’s been in the money in three of her last four, since returning from over a year on the bench. Margie’s Money (5) beat a few of these in the same conditioned race last month in her local debut. She was claimed out of that race and runs back in the same spot. She faces a larger field and will have more competition for the early lead, so she’s no lock here, but she still figures as a player.
Race 6: 2-9-10
We’re back on the turf with another restricted claiming race, this one for four year olds or horses that have never won three races, with a tag or $30K-$25K. We also have another field with a few horses that want to be on or near the lead. As a result, I’m going to try to beat the morning favorite Bring Me A Check (3), who makes a lot of sense, but I think there’s more competition for the lead, and when he went 23:1 and 47:2 last out, he was beaten four lengths. Simply (2) is the only true closer in the group, as he’ll likely be last in the early stages. You’re always relying a decent amount of racing luck when betting this type of horse, but I think 8-1 is fair value, as he moves up in class after being claimed last out. Miskho (9) was also claimed last out from the same race as Simply, but this guy won, despite a less than perfect trip. He loves the course here, winning 4 of his 5 races here, with his only off the board finish coming in stakes company. He typically likes to be closer to the pace, but he was further back last time out after a slow break. I’m curious as to where Beschizza will have him early on in this race. Barleewon (10) was claimed out of this a race with the same conditions last out by Mike Maker. He had a rough trip that day, but ran very well to win here with a perfect trip two back. He’s better than his last effort and must be considered as well.
Race 7: 8-1-6
Guilty Lover (8) dropped to this level in his second career start, and finished third beaten three. Watching the replay, he was probably the best horse in the race that day, but he had a rough journey. He was in close corners and was forced to back out of a five horse scrum for the lead in the early stages of the race. He was poised to make a run on the outside, but the winner shifted in a bit, causing him to lose position, and duck inside to look for a clear running lane. I think the outside draw will help him get a cleaner trip and unless one of the newcomers runs big, he should graduate here. Jackie Moon (1) debuted in the mud with state bred maiden special weights last out, and was forced to the back of the field after a rough beginning. He ran on well enough to get for 7th. He drops to maiden claiming for start number two, where he likely fits. I don’t love the rail draw for him, but I still think he can be a factor here. Mighty Able (6) debuts for the Maker barn, which has only three winners at the meet, but their 33 starters have finished in the money almost 55% of the time. His morning works aren’t great, but he’s been working consistently over the last seven weeks in preparation for his debut.
Race 8: 8-6-3
We have yet another, multi-condition, restricted claiming race on the grass, this one for four year olds and upward that have not four races life time or have not won two races at 1 Mile or longer on the grass in 6 months. Late Night Mischief (8) won last out on the grass at a mile beating a softer group. Prior to his last start, the last time he raced on the grass was 9/7/2019, and it seemed like he relished be back on this surface. I think he’s going to be very tough again here, despite moving up in class. Honovi (6) drops in for the straight tag for the first time after facing stiffer competition in his last several. He’s second off the layoff and I think he’s eligible to improve off his dull effort last out. Merlin’s Song (3) caught a good course last out and didn’t run well with better. Two back on a firm course, he was third with optional claiming/N2X allowance foes, which is usually a salty condition, especially in turf racing. He’s 0-8 on this course, but I think he’ll be able to rebound and run a more credible effort in this spot.
Race 9: 2-5-9
State bred maiden claimers compete in the nightcap, and these get out races have been giving me fits. G’s Squeeze (2) makes the most sense, making her third career start and running with a tag for the first time. Despite having a little trouble at the gate, she finished a credible 5th, pairing her Beyer from her debut. I don’t love the rail draw, but if she runs back to her first two starts, I see her being tough to beat. Kimmy (5) starts for the first time for Carl Deville after fading at two turns in a 6 and ½ Furlong trip at Delta. Her one turn race was a little better, so perhaps the change in scenery will help her. Eve’s Delight (9) is another Delta shipper, dropping out of state bred maiden special weight races. She’s been beaten double digits in all three starts, but she may appreciate cutting back to one turn.