After a rough weather week in New Orleans last week, the forecast looks calmer this week, so we will hopefully be back on the turf. If there races do come off the turf, I will make some edits in the post. The field size is pretty solid to kick off the last week of racing for the month of January.
Best Bet on the Card: Race 8: #1A Embolden (Turf only, 9-2 ML)
Most Likely Winner: Race 9 #7 Shakin’ Silver (9-5 ML)
Race 1: 3-1-2
Explosively Hot (3) ran her first two career races on the grass at Evangeline, and ran respectable races in those turf sprints. She went on to run three sprint races on dirt before post her best career speed figure in a two dirt race. I suspect this mare might prefer the turf, and could put in an improved effort while trying a turf route race for the first time. If her odds climb over the 8-1 ML, I think she’s an intriguing longshot that’s worth a look. Darling Joanna (1) has never been on the turf, but her two dirt starts in sprints have been solid at this level. Her trainer has a high ROI in turf races, so he seems to have a good feel as to which of his horses will have success on grass. I don’t love taking short prices on unproven horses, but many in this race have questionable form. Steal The Stars (2) looks to be the main danger as she switches back to the grass after a dull try on the main track. Her last three races have been solid on the grass and she looks to be the pacesetter here. She’s faded in all of her races though, so it’s hard to get excited about her as a win candidate.
Race 2: 1-2-4
Cajun Up (1) looks like the one to beat in this state bred N2L claiming race. He has improved, while Calhoun experimented with different distances and surfaces. He dropped into maiden claiming company for the first time to break his maiden, and now slides into this spot, which looks like the right level of competition for him. He looks like the horse that will be finishing best here. Herewecometogetyou (2) faced a decent field at the $12,500 N2L level last out. He was outsprinted in the first 100 yards, lost his rail position, and was forced to switch to the outside, where he went wide and came up empty. He wants to be closer to the front end to run his best races, and he should have less competition for early positioning here. I think he can rebound off the drop in class, as his maiden score two back was decent. Amazing American (4) has six decent efforts in a row, but only one win in those races, breaking his maiden in a five furlong dash at Evangeline in August. I would have liked to see him fight a little more in the stretch last out when he was swallowed up close to home. He’s still an exotics player, but I’m nervous taking him to win at a short price.
Race 3: 4-6-2
The second choice on the morning is Token (1) who is unraced since May at Gulfstream, and has been moved to Tom Drury’s barn since. She is bred to go further than this, and her debut in a sprint was not good. I’m looking to play her next time, as this looks like a starting point for her. I think the three in here from the January 2nd maiden special weight race, are the ones to play. I’ll look for Love Enough (3) to improve after setting the pace for the half mile in that race, before fading to finish 5th in her debut. She’s had two solid works since that race and should be more fit now for this spot. San Destin (5) is the deserving morning line favorite after closing well to hit the board in both career starts. She’s the one to beat, but not a ton of horses have been winning on this course lately with her closing style. Portofina (6) was game in her local debut after trying New York bred company in her previous three starts. She’s had many chances and hasn’t been able to break through. She seems like more of an underneath horse in this spot.
Race 4: 2-11-9
Matheson (2) has eight career starts, four on dirt and four on turf. All four dirt starts have been on sloppy tracks and he’s been beaten double digits in all four tries. The four turf starts have been much stronger efforts, making improvements each time. He’s always been slotted near the outside part of the field and today he gets a rail draw, which along with the drop in class, may be enough to push him over the top. There are two different races at this same level that at this course that are showing up in the PPs (12/18 R2, 1/6 R4). Day Trip (11) is coming out of the 12/18 heat at 7 and ½ furlongs, which appears to be the deeper of the two races. I think the distance was a little short for him that day, as he was closing well, but left himself a little too much work to do. He’ll have to secure a good position from an outside draw, but I think he fits well at this level. Conative (9) moves to the Dorochenko barn and is probably racing at the right level of competition for the first time in his career. Two of his better efforts have come with higher level restricted claimers. He might need a race since he hasn’t run since September at Kentucky Downs, but this one could be overlooked in the wagering and has a shot to make it into the exotics.
Race 5: 8-7-9
I’m trying to beat the morning line favorite, Dictator (1) here, as he tends to run races that are below average for him when he races here. I’ll look for Two Mikes N Doc G (8) to improve in his third race off the layoff and the drop in class. He’s been successful at this level before and now drops back after an odd effort with N1X allowance foes last time out. He is versatile, and should be comfortable sitting off the early pace that is likely to be set by Dictator. Son of a Saint (7) is probably the most consistent horse in the race. He was beaten by Woman With a Book in his last two starts, who is just in really good form right now. I think he’ll be right there again today. Thetrashmaniscoming (9) has been in better form, but he drops to a lower level after a few dull tries at Delta. He has better efforts on mile ovals, and his last start on the dirt at Canterbury would be competitive with this group.
Race 6: 9-3-5
This is a very evenly matched optional claiming/allowance on the grass for fillies and mares. I’d recommend a lot coverage in this opening leg of the late Pick 4, especially because I think your ticket can get more narrow in the later races. I’ll try Moon Of Love (9) on top, making her first start for the Stidham barn and racing for the first time since July. Her two North American tries were decent after taking some big swings in Europe as a two year old. She fits at this level and could be a factor coming off the shelf. Lea’s Princess (3) was a solid second in the 1/3 race at these conditions. She’s been knocking on the door in her last four tries on the grass at the N1X level. She should be right in the mix. I’ll give a look to the recent maiden breaker Oooh Barracuda (5) who has a win and a photo finish loss in her two turf tries. She’s third off a layoff and she has paired her two Beyers in the first two starts since a dull dirt debut. She’ll need to step up, but I think she’s capable of doing that.
.Race 7: 6-3-9
Hiccup (6) is one of four going turf to dirt in this maiden claiming contest. He’s been overmatched with better on the grass, but he’s been making progress. His barn has been very successful with a limited sample going turf to dirt. Redoux (3) is probably the one to beat, as he tries going two turns again after three straight efforts sprinting. There’s not a lot of speed in here, and he’s been reasonably close to the front in those races. He could make the front and be hard to pass in the long stretch here. Macho Mark (9) is the only horse in this race that has ever finished on the board, finishing third in his last two at Delta against $10K maiden claimers. He may be the best late threat in this race.
Race 8: 1A-4-8
I really like Embolden (1A) in today’s featured allowance, as he’s dropping into optional claiming/allowance company for the first time. All three wins have come against Virginia breds, but he’s been close against stakes foes in open company. He was wide a little flat in the Scherer Memorial last out, but I think the drop and second run over the course will benefit him. He’s my best bet on the card. Tom Amoss has It’s a Wrap (4) in good form right now, coming off a strong effort at these conditions three weeks ago. He’s got a strong late kick and enough tactical speed to be in a good striking position. Duncastle (8) is all about front end speed, but he didn’t get to run his race last time out. He broke well, but the race winner, Readyforprimetime, surged early while Duncastle was trying to secure position, and made his way to the front and cleared from his outside post after the first furlong. I think Murrill will be much more aggressive in the early stages from his outside position to secure early position. He’s dangerous when loose on the lead.
Race 9: 7-10-4
State bred maiden claimers compete in the nightcap. It’s hard to look past Shakin’ Silver (7) who just missed at this level last out at 6 Furlongs. He’s been close in his last two and unless someone else takes a big step forward, he should be graduating this afternoon. The Three K’s (10) was about nine lengths behind Shakin’ Silver in his debut last time out. He was a bit slow from the gate that day, but showed some interest closing with a wide run to get 4th. There’s reason to think he can improve and get closer to the favorite this time around. Nosy Banker (4) is the main danger as he drops in class after a dull try last out. He’s not too far behind the top choice, but Shakin’ Silver is trained by a more successful trainer and ridden by a more seasoned jockey.