The last two days, weather wreaked havoc on the card, transferring races from the turf course to the main track. The stewards have also been earning their money this week, with at least one disqualification in each of the last three days. Originally, the forecast was for clearing weather yesterday, but it looks like some more rain fell. I’m hopeful they’ll be on the Stall Wilson turf course today, but again I will prepare for both scenarios.
Best Bet on the Card: Race 8: #5 Awesummer (Turf only, 8-1 ML)
Most Likely Winner: Race 3 #4 Goforthewinecourse (5-2 ML)
Race 1: 1-6-4
The opener is a pretty uninspiring group of state bred N2L, filly and mare claimers, all running for a $5,000 tag. Bobbies Reason (1) would be in the best form of the bunch, coming off a decent second at this level last time out. She’s shown some ability before, and may be appreciating moving to Joseph Foster’s barn a few starts back. Lauralee Cocodree (6) might be the most consistent horse in the race, hitting the board in her last three starts. She’s back in with state bred claimers and may have found her softest spot yet. Breezin Bye You (4) got within 4 lengths of Bobbies Reason last time out and now makes her third start off the layoff. Three of her last four have been competitive.
Race 2: 1-4-3 Turf/ 5-7-4 Dirt
We had a competitive allowance race scheduled for the turf yesterday that was transferred to the main the track, and the race was absolutely decimated, leaving only three starters. We may see a similar scenario in this race if the race comes off the grass. Complex System (1) was claimed by Louie Roussel at Belmont last out, perhaps with an eye on bringing some horses south for this meet, as this is the second horse this weekend that he sends out that last raced on the NYRA circuit. This colt has never finished off the board in five starts and looks to be faster than anyone else in this race. Brew Crew (4) may have the best chance to beat the favorite, as he closed well in his second turf sprint at Indiana Grand two back. His race on New Year’s Eve was washed off the turf and contested on a very sloppy course. He broke on top and led for about six furlongs before backpedaling late. He may be ok if Foley decides to keep him in the field if this race comes off the grass, but I prefer him on the lawn. On The Muscle (3) makes start number 12, but reunites with trainer Michael Stidham, who had more success with him than Paul Holthus was able to have with him while racing at Indiana Grand. He’s been competitive on this course and may be able to grab a slice. On the main track, I think Schmoozin (5) is the one to watch out for. He’s been decent on the main track before and should be more fit in his second race off the layoff. Outerbanks (7) is a $700,000 horse that makes his first start today as a four year old gelding. Silva doesn’t have a great track record with first timers, but he’d likely be facing a small field if he goes on the dirt, and his pedigree says dirt should alright for him.
Race 3: 4-6-2
Goforthewinecourse (4) and Jackfruit (6) seem like the two main players in this race. I’ll give the edge to Goforthewinecourse, who beat Jackfruit last time out in his first effort at two turns on the dirt. There is absolutely no early speed in this race to challenge him early, so if he breaks clean, he might be gone. He looks like the most likely winner on the card. Jackfruit (6) keeps on trying hard despite winning only once in seventeen tries. The barn connected with Ekaterinoslav, who also ran in the same race these two on January 1st, in the opener on Thursday. Hashtag Speed (2) has done most of his racing on the grass. His only dirt start was a DNF, as he lost the rider following a spill in that race. The class relief and surface switch could lead to a better effort.
Race 4: 2-4-9 Turf / 2-7-1 (Dirt)
This race revolves around what you think of the Maker horse, Corruze (3). He’s only six moths removed from finishing within 2 lengths of the winner in the Grade 2 Shakertown at Keeneland. He was claimed for $62,500 in September, and has one race since, which was an okay third at Indiana Grand. He was offered for $40,000 that day and now he’s in for $25,000, and he hasn’t raced in two months. He still could win this race on class alone, but I’m skeptical about his current form. I’ll look to About Our Time (2) who making the first start off the Broberg claim. He had a rough trip here two back, but I thought his last on this course was strong. I think he’s the one to beat on either surface. On grass, I’ll take a flyer on Keys To The Palace (4) who is moving up in class after facing strictly Louisiana breds. He has two decent races here on the grass last season before going on the shelf. He returned with a dull effort on the dirt, but all of his dirt races have been dull. I think he could be running late in this race, which has a decent amount of early speed. Xy Speed (9) is a former Jorge Navarro trainee, who is making his second start for Asmussen. He was crushed while facing tougher on the dirt at Laurel in his return from a 10 month vacation. He’s never been a great dirt horse, but he could be a factor on the grass. On dirt, I’ll use Hilton Magic (7) underneath. He’s probably the fastest horse from the gate in the field, but he’s been struggling of late to carry that speed. There will be less competition for him on the main track. Little Kansas (1) has been primarily running in dirt races. If Hilton Magic stays in the race, he should get some pace to close into.
Race 5: 1-10-4
Maiden three year old Louisiana bred fillies at two turns here in the fifth, most with some very spotty form. Seeking The Stars (1) was well bet last out in her first start since September, but she was very keen, and forced her way to be wide on the first turn, and pretty much throughout the race. She faded badly in that spot. She’s got the rail, and should be a little more fit after her last. I’ll take a chance on Kaitlyn’s Court (10) for Steve Flint, shipping in from Delta. Her one two turn race on a traditional mile oval at Evangeline wasn’t bad. Some horses don’t love the tight turns at Delta, so maybe she’s one of them as she didn’t run much in either start there. She’s now in the third race off a layoff, and finds a soft group here. Heart That Binds (4) is your likely favorite, but she’s never gone two turns before, and this is a tough race to take a short price on a horse that is unproven.
Race 6: 9-3-2 (Turf) / 7-8-9 (Dirt)
On or off the grass, this is another challenging and wide open Louisiana Bred race, this one an optional $12,500 claiming or N1X allowance. I’ll go with G’s Deadline (9) in the top spot, making the switch back to grass in her third race off a layoff. She’s been competitive in all three of her career races on the grass and her last two on the dirt suggest that this four year old filly has improved since the summer. She’s also playable on the main track, coming off a win with $5K N3L state bred claimers last time. Freda’s Smooth Air (3) is a six year old mare that might not be as quick as she used to be, however, she didn’t have many turf opportunities in 2020, and I think that’s her preferred surface. Grand Isle Girl (2) draws the rail for her first try against winners. She’s been first or second in four of her five career tries, with her only off the board finish coming against open maiden special weight company. She’s never raced on a firm course, which is a plus today if they race on the grass. On the main track, I’ll upgrade both horses from the John Ney barn, Lookout Mountain (7) and Galaxy Thirtysix (8). Lookout Mountain has been away since June, but has fired well fresh before. His strategy is usually rolling along on the front end, which hasn’t been a bad place to be on this track this week. Galaxy Thirtysix is second off a layoff, returning after showing some brief speed, before fading on the grass last out. I think she’s better on the main track, and should show an improved effort here.
Race 7: 5-2-8
I haven’t watched a lot harness racing lately, but this race reminds of a type of harness race where the horses in better form are intentionally slotted to the outside and the horses that have struggled more are posted inside. I don’t know which harness tracks (if any) still card races like that, and obviously, that is not intentional here. I liked Maga Man (5) in an off the turf race yesterday, and I like him better in this spot, especially seeing as how they opted to run here instead of against off the turf rivals. He’s been very consistent with his efforts at Delta, and he has been solid over the larger ovals as well. He’s adaptable to the pace of the race, so I think Saez will be able to put him in a good spot. Louisiana Moon (2) is one of the horses with some less consistent form in here, however, he does have some efforts in his running lines that would be very competitive at this level. He returned from a four month break last time out in an off the turf optional claiming/allowance race against a better field. He also scratched out of the off the turf race yesterday in favor of this spot. Taken Back (8) is making his third start off the layoff today. He has run okay in two sprints, but looking at his running lines, it seems two turns is what he wants to do. I don’t love the outside draw for this race, as any disadvantage in an evenly matched field, should be considered. I think he will still give an improved effort in this race.
Race 8: 5-3-10 (Turf) / 10-6-5 (Dirt)
On the grass, the theme of this race is “blue bloods vs. blue collar”, as half the field was purchased for over six figures, while the other half has some more modest beginnings. That being said, I’m siding with three of the less expensive purchases in here. I liked the debut from Awesummer (5) last month, competing on the first stakes laden card on the meet, on 12/19. The maiden races on these stakes heavy cards at the Fair Grounds are always deep, and that turf race was no exception, featuring fourteen two year old horses. Awesummer broke from post nine, was a little wide into the first turn, and set the tempo with another longshot. He put away the horse on the rail with the better trip, and finished well in front of that one, but faded late to finish 9th. I think that was a very educational race for him and like his chances in his second career try. I would consider playing him on the main track as well, but I’m not as high on his chances as I am with him going on the grass. I think James Baker has two live horses in here, both moving up in class from the maiden claiming ranks. Fed Money (3) drew post nine in a 13 horse field last out, didn’t show much speed, but closed well late to get third, less than a length away from the winner. He moves up in class, which I like, as there is a desire to protect this $4,000 purchase. He adds blinkers and draws much better for his second try on the grass and third try overall. Cody’s Legacy (10) is my top pick on the main track, but he’s interesting moving to the grass as well, as the dam sire for this one is War Chant. Like his stablemate, he was wide on both turns last time out, but he ran a solid race behind a next out winner. He’s another low price investment of $3,000, which is being protected from the claim here. Kinetic Sky (6) has two decent maiden tries at two turns on the main track here and at Indiana Grand. I don’t love the switch to turf, but this $450,000 sun of Runhappy makes a ton of sense on the main track for the Brad Cox barn.
Race 9: 2-4-8
War Rogue (2) was a little slow from the break, but finished with interest in his debut, while tipping wide for the stretch run. He adds blinkers today and I think he can cut into that five length margin between him and Southern Light (6). Midnight Spirit (4) was in the same race as those two on 12/17, and finished behind Southern Light and in front of War Rogue. Midnight Spirit turned the tables on Southern Light in the 1/3 race, improving and finishing a close second that day (War Rogue did not race that day). I think he’s a deserving favorite off two decent efforts for the conditions, and definitely the one to beat in this race. Cajun Navy (8) has been dull in both starts coming off a year plus layoff, however, both of those races were against maiden special weight foes. He drops to a level where he may be more competitive.