Fair Grounds Racing Preview – 2/15/21 – By Eric Solomon

It’s just like old times as there’s Monday and Tuesday racing this week at the Fair Grounds. There’s a 9 race President’s Day card this afternoon after a day off to recover from the 13 race marathon on Saturday. Do note, I’ve made changes based on the surface switch from turf to dirt. There were also several scratches on the card in other races, where I have adjusted my selections accordingly. 

Best Bet: Race 7: Blueridge Mountain (#8, 4-1 ML)

Race 1: 8-6-3

Lady Kaza (8) is one of two MTO’s in here, and definitely the one I want to use. She ran a mosnter race three back under similar circumstances, beating a N2L group at the same tag by 10 lengths. Better Biz (6) ran well enough and showed some progress on the main track before a troubled trip effort two starts ago. She got back to better form on the turf and should run a better race today. Threewickedwishes (3) hasn’t been seen since September back at Louisiana Downs. She just missed on the main track three starts ago. I don’t love the drop to claiming company off the layoff, but it’s a short field, and the others don’t appear to be nearly as good on dirt.

Race 2: 5-2-3

My top and third choice for this race were scratched , so I’ll try Talking Notes (5) after being eased up in his last against significantly better competition. He was well bet two back against better, where he was third to Freedomfi and Bayou Jam (The latter beat a better group here on Friday). Three starts back, he beat $5,000 N3L claimers by over 9 lengths, so my thought is there could be decent value on him as he returns to face $5,000 claimers. Star Banjo (2) and Rifle Man (3) were both close up in a similar spot last time out. I’ll give the slight edge to Star Banjo, who has a better off track record.

Race 3: 3-7-8

There’s a ton of suspect form in this race, so I’m looking to Ice Peak (3) who hasn’t run that bad in his last two. He looks to be coming back to his better races from 2019, before an injury knocked him out of racing for over a year. Alma Derby (7) faltered with state bred allowance company in his last try. Two back, he rolled over Louisiana bred $5,000 N3L claimers. He has the same amount of wins on this oval as the rest of the field combined. Maintainance Matt (6) was claimed after a dull try last out. Jeansome is 0-12 off the claim in the last year, but this one only needs to improve slightly to hit the board with what’s left of this field.

Race 4: 1-4-6

I liked Kuhlke (1) better on the grass, but she’s shown enough to use her on the main track as well. She took a big step forward trying grass for the first time, closing well to be 4th at this level, beaten less than 2 lengths. With the rail draw, I’m thinking she’ll be a little closer to the early pace, and unless someone takes a big step forward, she should be passing everyone late. Hotmolly (4) has a sprinter’s pedigree on top, but the dam sire is Sky Classic, so it’s possibly she could handle the stretch out.. Her last was respectable in a sprint, and I’m thinking she’ll be on the front end, which probably a good spot for this group. Strummer (6) was okay under similar circumstances last time out. She’s playable in this race as well.

Race 5: 4-5-2

Two Mikes N Doc G (4) had an outside draw with similar and was 5 wide early, before fading badly late. He draws closer inside today, and should have an easier time in the early stages today. Last out was his first time off the board on this oval, but I’ll wager that with the leading trainer and rider teaming up, a rebound is likely today. Gato American (5) is third off the layoff and is a distance specialist, winning four of five starts at one mile, and finishing second in the only race he didn’t win. His best races have come on other tracks, but he’s third off the layoff and showed improvement with similar last time out. Citali (2) is most likely to be closing late here. Closers didn’t have the easiest time on the drying out course here on Saturday, so that’ll be something to watch in the first few main track races on the card. His last few tries with straight claimers have been solid, especially at this level.

Race 6: 5

There’s only four here, so I’ll talk about my top pick. I thought the turf debut from Katie’s Karat (5) looked better on the replay than it looks on paper. She has bumped hard early and as a result, failed to secure early position. She made an eye catching 6 wide move before flattening out in the stretch. She followed that up with an improved two turn dirt try. I’ll look for her on the grass in the future, but she seems to be the one to beat in this race.

Race 7: 8-2-9

Amoss claimed Blueridge Mountain (8) off Mark Casse last out, when he didn’t fire after a tardy beginning in a 6 Furlong sprint. He prefers to be closer early on, and he seems to be better suited for middle distance races such as this one. Amoss is strong off the claim, and he finds a spot where the form is spotty at best from many competitors. He’s shown ability to rebound off poor efforts in the past. I really like his chances today. No Exaggeration (2) has only one dirt start to go off of, but having Exaggerator as the sire, you’d have to think this one won’t mind a wet track. He gets the rail draw and drops to a more appropriate level today. Conative (9) has more turf and synthetic tries than dirt races, and he’s never hit the board in 5 career dirt tries. However, all five of those efforts came against significantly better field. He has some late speed and could pass some tiring foes to add some value underneath in the exotics.

Race 8: 7-5-10

I’ll look to the lightly raced Darling Joanna (7) to get the job done in her first try against winners. Her first two races were dirt sprints, which were solid efforts. She took a step forward, routing on the grass last out, getting up in time as the odds on favorite. I think she’ll be fine at two turns on a wet track today. Freda’s Smooth Air (5) won by open lengths at this condition last out when the race was taken off the turf. She’s back at the same level and in for the tag again. Her dirt form is better is better than her turf form, so she’s logical today. Sincerity (10) ran a big number on a sloppy track last out. She’ll be dangerous if she can duplicate that effort.

Race 9: 6-7-4

Comerunninboys (6) improved in his third career start at this level last out. He adds blinkers, which I think will help him stay focused as it looked like he was wandering a bit in his last start. Mighty Able (7) was a bit slow into stride against better in his debut, but he did start to figure some things out late. He drops in class and should improve in his second career start. Get The Net (4) has caught nothing but mud in his two career starts and might get to run on a dryer track this afternoon. He seemed up against it at two turns last out so he cuts back in distance and takes a decent drop in class today.

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