Fair Grounds Racing Preview – 2/26/21 – By Eric Solomon

James Graham put on a riding clinic yesterday, finding the Winner’s Circle four times. He extended his lead to nine wins over Adam Beschizza in the jockey standings. Louisiana breds will be the focal point of the card today as six of the nine races on the card are for them. There were some good prices mixed in with some logical horses yesterday, and this card looks to have the same potential.

Race 1:

The opener is a state bred multi-conditioned claiming race for older horses that have never won twice or for three year olds. No three year olds entered, so everyone entered has only their maiden victory thus far. There’s a big scratch of Roux Ga Roux(2) here, which changes the complexion of this race. Al Stall sends out Saintsgotrobbed (6) after two competitive efforts with state bred N1X company. I don’t love to see him drop to claiming company after two decent efforts (especially with a maiden special option later on this card), however, Stall is usually based in Kentucky in after this meet ends next month, so it might make sense to see if this Louisiana bred will get claimed, as he’d likely need be in for a lower tag to be competitive at Keeneland or Churchill. It’s hard to find someone else, but if coverage can be afforded, maybe give a look to Shackle The Gold (5). His last was better on video than it looks on paper, as he faced a runaway winner at this condition. He never was really to get in to top gear until it was too late, but he still ran on well enough to get third. He’s improved steadily and could be worth a stab if the presumably heavy favorite falters.

6 5 1,3,4,7,8


Race 2:

The first turf contest of the day features state bred optional claiming/N2X allowance foes. I think there’s some upside with Money Well Spent (5) who showed some promise in her first try on the turf at two turns. Her three turf races are solid, winning her first two turf sprints this summer at Ellis. I think she can step up and succeed at this level. Irish Hustle (6) has been quite popular at the claiming box, being claimed in four of her last five starts. She flopped last out at this level after winning her two starts prior to that. I think she will rebound and run a better race this afternoon. Alliaceous (1) makes her first start in two months while dropping from the state bred stakes ranks. She has the best closing speed of the rest and should get an honest pace to set up her late move with the presence of Marywood (4), who has had trouble staying on of late.

5 1,6 2,3,4,7


Race 3:

More multi-conditioned Louisiana breds compete here, again, where there are no three year old fillies, so everyone is racing under the N2L condition for the $20,000-$15,000 tag. Form lines are tough to read in this race, so I don’t have a strong opinion. I see that four that I’d consider using, as the longer shots aren’t very palpable for me. Ezee Enough (3) is more consistent than many of these, but maybe a notch below based on form. However, she was claimed by Faucheux off a trainer with a 6% win percentage and gets an upgrade at jockey as well. Faucheux and Beschizza are winning at 38% together in the last year and this feels like a horse that can improve in here. Hay Grace (4) has been steadily improving and now takes a little rise in class after running three solid races for the $12,500 tag. It’s worth noting that she ran a strong race last out in open company and returns to face fellow Louisiana breds for a higher tag today. Commercial Flash (7) had a long string of bad races before breaking her maiden two back. She followed up that effort with a respectable try at long odds with state bred N1X allowance foes, beaten less than three lengths that day. She probably fits better at this level if she’s able to maintain her current good form. Star Prado (2) was one that I was desperately trying to beat as she has been a money burner in the past. She faces a weak bunch though as she drops for a tag for the first time in her fifteen race career. She kind of feels like a horse that I don’t want let knock me out of a multi-race sequence.

3,4 2,7 1,5,6,8,9


Race 4:

Sweet Workout (1) seems like the one to beat among this group of three year old maiden claiming fillies. She has outrun her odds in her last two races, getting second at 9-1 at these conditions three weeks ago. Santo Sanjur earns the return call, despite only winning 6% of his aces at this meet. While he hasn’t had great mounts lately, the quality of the rides he has been giving has been improving over the last few weeks. Princess Tine (8) has been following Sweet Workout in her last two races and was defeated by her both times. With the smaller field, she may have a bit of a pace advantage over her rival today, depending on what the first time starters show. Laugh It Off (2) was beaten by the top two picks last out, but was competitive at 33-1, moving forward off her debut. James Graham gets the mount today, and he’s been a difference maker on some of these fringe horses lately. Of the four first time starters, the one I’d want is Slightly Sassy (7) from the Brendan Walsh barn. Her works seems a little quicker than the other three on debut. She definitely has a pedigree that leans turf. I’m against the Brad Cox first timer, Paytience Pays (6) as she was a $130K purchase debuting for a $50K tag. Her works are on the slower side and her pedigree leans more dirt than turf.

1 2,8 7 3,4,5,6


Race 5:

The multi-conditioned claiming train continues on this Friday card, as horses entered for the $5K tag here are either non winners of 4 career races or non-winners of two races over a mile in the past 6 months.  Bonita Springs (5) is interesting in here, as she has only raced 5 times since May, and has been off since a solid turf effort back in December here. She was beaten by All Fact that day who been dominating the optional claiming/starter allowance condition at the current meet. Her last two turn race on the dirt was a second place finish at Hawthorne with speed figures that would make her competitive with this group. Longleggedlaverne (8) is coming off a win on the grass last out and has won twice in the last six months and 6 times overall. She sneaks into this condition as her last win came at a flat mile, and not over the mile distance. I do like when a horse is almost overqualified for a condition, but is able to qualify. I do wonder about the drop to a $5K tag after winning for a $15K tag last month, which is what’s keeping me from using her as an A. However, after winning last out and looking at the condition book, there aren’t many options left for her. There’s a race on 3/21 that makes sense, however, that’s a month away and she may need to run now. Short of that, there aren’t many options for her at the moment in New Orleans. Limage (3) might be a good horse to upgrade as there are two key scratches in this spot (C’Estbon C’Estbon (2) & Katie The Cutie (6). She was in good form this summer at Louisiana Downs and is now third off the layoff. She improved last out after looking a little rusty two back. She now has the rail and could get brave on the front end if she can make the lead.

5,8 3 1,1a,4,6,7,




Race 6:

This is the 4th of 6 races restricted to Louisiana breds on the card today. This is for N4L horses or horses that haven’t won twice in 6 months. If you don’t meet those conditions, you can run for the $35K claiming tag. The favorite here, Monte Man (1) is a pretty cool 8 year old gelding that, despite being a Louisiana bred, started his career on the NYRA circuit for John Terranova. He never really lived up to expectations, being a $125,000 purchase back in 2015, and was claimed a few times, before Ron Faucheux claimed him for $25K at Belmont in 2017. Since then, he’s relocated to his home state, and won 13 times, amassing the majority of his $676K earnings in that period of time. He makes his first start of this calendar year after dominating a dirt sprint stakes here in December. He’s run very well on the turf before, and this looks like a logical spot for him to prep for the Costa Rising Stakes here next month, a race which he has won twice and lost in a photo back in 2019. There’s not a lot of true turf sprinters in here, so perhaps an additional to add to the ticket, if you’re thinking Monte Man isn’t fully cranked for this spot, would be O’L Red (6). He really has reinvigorated his career since trying the turf in 2019. He is all about early speed, so you can forgive his last effort where he was completely shut off at the break, and was 10 lengths of the early pace at the first call. Getting a five pound weight break with the apprentice Kellenberger aboard, I imagine the tactics will be to go hard early to get the front and try to hold on late.

1 6 2,3,4,5,7,8


Race 7:

There’s a big scratch of Louisianalightning (5) here that totally changes the race. I thought reuniting him with Soul Song (4) would wind up in a pace meltdown. Now, I think they’ll have to come and catch that one. There’s some other speed signed on, but he’s definitely the quickest early. He dueled for a good aprt of the race, before backing out and then checking when Louisianalightning wandered over. I think it he gets an easier trip early, he’ll revert back to his better efforts. I’d have to think that if Binding Agreement (2) can get out of his own way, he’d be the most likely candidate to run him down in the end. He hasn’t been able to avoid trouble in his past several tries, but keeps running credible races. He handled breaking from the rail in his debut in November of 2019, angling out on the turn, and handily blowing away the field like he could be special. He hasn’t been able to run a race as big as that since, but he keeps grinding despite finding obstacles. I can’t leave him alone in the A spot because of trouble he finds, but I still like him as my top pick. Money and Me (1) might be an interesting value play here after getting bumped hard early and chasing the very fast C’Mon Ve at this level last month. His debut was solid and he could move forward after getting some education in his second career try.

2,4 1 3,6,7,8,9,10


Race 8:

Many of the main contenders in this maiden special weight here have tried several times and have always come up short. The others trying turf for the first time don’t strike me as contenders, so I think the race will be for Love in the Air (6) to lose. She was a very good second on Lecomte Day in her first try at two turns on the turf, coming up short to Lijana that day. Those maiden races that day have proven to be strong, as many have come back to win other maiden special weight races after running on that same card. There’s been issues getting races for maiden special weight fillies to go on grass, so she opts to take on her elders here, which among this group, I don’t particularly mind even though it’s early in the season. Bridgmohan gets off this one in favor of the Brad Cox horse, Ceant (3), but he’s been riding first call for Cox since Geroux shifted his tack to Oaklawn, I don’t mind the jockey switch. Ceant has been competitive in seven tries when running for Tom Morley, but now goes to the Brad Cox barn, so I would think there could be potential for a forward move, as Cox wins 26% of the time with new acquisitions. A longshot toss in could be Maid of Honor (2), who is definitely bred to be a two turn horse. Her debut on dirt was dismal in May in a one turn mile at Churchill. However, that was a brutal spot to make her debut in as that was a very deep field that flew early, and set things up for a nice Chad Brown filly, Altaf, to bury that group late. She reappeared in another brutally tough maiden special weight race, this one a sprint at Kentucky Downs, where she was beaten by a very good filly in More Than Unusual. She had another gap in her starts and ran next three weeks ago in a turf sprint here, where she definitely was improved but was still beaten by 8 lengths. She cost her owners $400K, and she’s sired by Medaglia d’Oro out of a Deputy Minister mare, so there is still plenty of potential. She will have to step up but, I believe this what she wants to do. I’m not totally sold that she’s ready to take this big of step up, but there are a lot of plusses in a field where many have tried and failed several times.


6 2,3 1,4,5,7,8,9,



Race 9:

State bred maiden special weight three year old fillies close the Friday afternoon card. I’m going to try Liberated Strife (11) on the outside to improve off a respectable debut with state bred maiden claiming company. I don’t think the difference is that stark here between state bred maiden special weight and $25K state bred maiden claiming, and I like that are connections are keeping her protected this time. She gets a better rider and hopefully will progress some more to get the job done at a price. Shades of Truth (8) is a beatable favorite, and one that I won’t be willing to take a short price on here in any vertical exotic wager. However, her two dirt races are good efforts where she fell apart late. Her debut was at Keeneland for $150k maiden claimers and when she came here, she ran into a very good filly in Australasia, who went on to win multiple stakes races after breaking her maiden. Shades of Truth looked like she wanted nothing to do with the turf last out, so I expect improvement returning to dirt. Having the leader trainer and rider combo doesn’t hurt her chances. Elsie Girl (4) took some play at the windows in her debut, and was second beaten 8 lengths at this level. She took a hard bump that day, so that could have affected her. Summer is Hot (1) might be worth the inclusion on deeper tickets, as she comes out of the same turf race as Shades of Truth and actually finished well in front of her. Her debut on dirt was poor, but she showed some speed before fading badly. I think there’s ability there to run well enough on the main track to possibly be a factor in here.

8,11 4 1 2,3,5,6,7,9,




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