The racing calendar for the month of February at the Fair Grounds is a little bit scattered. This week, there is a Wednesday card and five days of racing (2/3 through 2/7). Next week there are also five days of racing, with racing Thursday through Saturday (2/11 through 2/13). Then we’re off Sunday and racing Monday 2/15 (President’s Day) and Tuesday 2/16 (Fat Tuesday). After that, we go back to the regular Thursday-Sunday schedule through the end of the meet. There are nine races on the card today, and note that the rail is out at 26 feet for the turf races, and will be slotted there for the entire week of racing. The inner part of the turf course will be preserved and ready to use next week with the stakes filled card on 2/13, highlighted by the Risen Star Stakes.
Most Likely Winner: Juanandora (R1 #6, ML 3-1)
Best Bet: World War (R6 #1, ML 5-1)
Race 1: 6-4-7
There’s not a lot of creative options in the opener as Juanandora (6) looks very logical. She’s hit the board in all three of her local tries at this condition. She finds a soft group and should be ready to break through today. Star’s Dream (4) is coming off a career best effort at this tag but in N2L company. She’s a four year old so she could be improving and could follow up that effort with more improvement. Her last three races have been the best of her career, so her trends are solid. Supersport Sally (7) has run four straight Beyers in the mid-40’s, which is usually enough to hit the board at this level. I’ll side with her consistency underneath.
Race 2: 1-7-2
How you play this race determines how you feel about Corruze (5) taking a substantial and suspicious drop in class. He was claimed for $62,500 at Kentucky Downs in September, started once and was third in an optional claiming/allowance at Indiana Grand for $40,000 in November, and now shows up here, three months later, in for a $12,500 tag. He was scratched out of an off the turf race where he was going to go for a $25,000 tag on 1/24. He’s definitely the classiest runner in the field and has run faster races than any of these, but if the connections are willing to take a loss on him for over $30,000, I’m nervous about how well he’ll perform. I’ll cover him in the horizontal wagers and try to beat him vertically. About Our Time (1) is the most logical contender, as he came out of the same off the turf race the Corruze scratched out of. He drops to a level that’s below his $17,500 claiming price that was paid for him two starts back, but that’s certainly not as significant of a drop. He has a lot of big efforts on the turf, but he also throws in some clunkers. I think he fits very nicely at this level. Mr. Priority (7) has never hit the board in four career turf tries, but his efforts aren’t bad, and some have come against better competition. His last turf race was a fourth place finish at Remington, but he was less than a length behind the winner. He closes well and the extra half furlong here should help his cause. He could definitely be overlooked in the wagering and could offer solid value. More Abundance (2) has been close in his last two turf tries here. He has better form in his past on the grass and the drop in class could be beneficial for him.
Race 3: 3-6-5
Barring someone jumping up out of nowhere or the top two taking a big step back, this looks like a two horse race between Bar Tap (3) and Bella Falaya (6). Of the two, I prefer Bar Tap. She’s a perfect 2-2 on the main track, despite a more turf oriented pedigree. Her last against lesser was very strong, and her pattern of improvement suggests, she can duplicate that effort or even move forward off of it. Bella Falaya takes a sharp drop after running well enough with $20L N3L claimers at Delta. She’s been successful here in the past winning once in five tries, with two other on the board finishes. She’s reasonably consistent, running about the same effort just about every time, which would be enough to beat the majority of this field. There isn’t a ton of speed in this sprint, so perhaps Ella’s Lil Star (5) who might be the fastest early, could get upset minded. Her last was more like what she’s capable after going off form for a while. She still has to prove she can maintain that form though.
Race 4: 4-7-5
This race hass an interesting condition, which is a $30K starter allowance for three year olds. Winners of four different $30K maiden claiming races on the grass at this meet are in here, along with three horses who broke their maiden on the main track. Wentru (4) looks to be the one to beat, as his three turf races have been consistently decent. Two back, when he didn’t fire his best on this course, he was beaten by Palazzi, who just came back to beat a decent stakes field in the Texas Turf Mile over at Sam Houston. He’s quick enough that if there’s not much pace on, he’ll be right near the front, but he’s also comfortable sitting back if a few horses go quickly early on. Bryce Canyon (7) took a big step forward to win last out on a good course. He should get a firm course for the first time, and I think he’s can build upon his last effort. Fieldstone (5) also took a big step forward, to rally nicely and win in his first career turf try. I usually like horses that jump up in form on grass, but I’m a little hesitant to fire away with them when that figure came on a course that’s less than firm. I also wonder if he’ll get enough pace to close into to win this race.
Race 5: 1-1A-3-7
Both halves of the entry in this race have run well in heats at this level that were faster than normal. There are nine horses entered with a combined total of 22 races of experience. The starters in the field have been beaten by double digit lengths in all but four of those starts, and the entry is responsible for three of them. I don’t like to be chalky, but in this race I’m not sure anyone is going to be able to step up to beat either Saint Goar (1) or Awe Shackle (1A). Saint Goar closed well at 31-1 last out, to lose in a three horse photo. That was a very quick heat for the conditions, stopping the clock in 1:11:4. Awe Shackle did not appreciate the turf last out, but he beat his stablemate with a decent third place effort two back. If either horse runs back close to those efforts, they should graduate today. Flat Out American (3) debuted in the slop, broke slowly, and then circled up 6 wide before flattening out and fading. He drops in class and could make an impression in his second career try. Thirtyminutemass (7) debuted with $50,000 maiden claimers at Keeneland and was backpedaling after a half mile. He dropped and tried running on the grass here in his second start, which didn’t go well either. He drops again and returns to a dirt sprint, which should be a decent level for him. He’d likely be favored if not for the entry.
Race 6: 1-4-8
I’m going to take a stand against the Tom Amoss favorite here, Shades of Truth (7). Her speed figures are solid on dirt for this level, but now she tries turf I don’t like how easily she folded up last out. I think others have a more intriguing pedigree for turf sprints, including the Declaration of War horse, World War (1) who faced Shades of Truth in her debut. Amoss’ filly was about ten lengths in front in her that day. She tried a route on the dirt, in the slop, last out, when the race was taken off the grass. You can draw a line through that effort. She cuts back and should get to do what she was meant to do today. Liberated Strife (4) debuted for a $25,000 tag last out and ran a decent third in a 6 Furlong sprint. She moves to the turf, having some grass influences from both sides of her family. I can see her taking a step forward in this spot. Half Koo Koo (8) has decent dirt works and a sprinter’s pedigree, sired by Half Ours and the dam sire is Friendly Lover, who was one of the best New Jersey bred sprinters of all time. The pedigree doesn’t scream turf, and the barn doesn’t have great numbers with first time starters, but this one looks like she could a runner.
Race 7: 4-2-5
The featured race today is a two turn, optional claiming/N1X allowance race for fillies and mares going 1 Mile and 1/16 on the main track. Sweet Blindness (4) has a few wins in claiming company and has been getting closer at this level. She’s never been off the board locally in three tries and finds a field with horses that have some spotty two turn form. Pop A Choc (2) is the logical favorite as she’s shipping in from New York for Mark Casse. She’s been away since September when she was off the board in an allowance race that featured future grades stakes winner, Mrs. Danvers. If she can duplicate one of her efforts from the summer, she’d likely win this race by open margins. However, she’s never gone two turns, and though she’s by Bernardini, her dam sire is Cuvee, so I’m not certain she’ll love the added distance. This isn’t a bad time to take a swing against a likely short priced favorite. Queen Of The Lane (5) is coming off a nice maiden breaking win in December. There is a step up in class for sure, as she only faced three rivals in an off the turf contest to get her first score. She’s had four steady works in preparation of this start, and definitely has a chance to hit the board here.
Race 8: 9-8-6
I’m hunting for value in this maiden claiming contest, as this looks like an evenly matched field. Faded Memories (9) is a little interesting to me as a longshot stab. She’s run on turf three times on her career, and the first two starts, she had notable trouble. She ran well at the $30,000 maiden claiming level two back, when she broke cleanly and was forwardly placed. She tried maiden special weight company on the dirt last out and was overmatched. I think she’s a sneaky play getting back on the grass today. Laugh It Off (8) debuted in a 14 horse scrum on the Lecomte Day card, and struggled to get early position, steadying off the heels of a rival in the early stages of the race. She did eventually settle, and faded late after a sitting a midpack trip. I think she has a little more tactical speed then she was able to show last time, and the drop to this level is probably where she fits. Point Of Infinity (6) drops to the maiden claiming ranks for the first time after three steady efforts against better fillies. Maker’s horses continue to struggle to win at the meet, but they’re not running poorly, as more than half are hitting the board.
Race 9: 5-8-3
I’m not seeing a lot to be encouraged by with the longshots in the nightcap. The logical play is Cat On The Roof (5) as he’s been in the best recent form over any of these lately. He’s been knocking on the door at this level. I think he’ll benefit from the cutback in distance and returning to a one turn sprint. Caeus In Pasadena (8) was roughed up a bit at the start last out, finishing off the board at this level, about eight lengths behind Cat On The Roof. He ran a better race two back despite being disqualified. He could revert back to his better form here. Sir Pokerface (3) was claimed two back from a better barn and regressed while going two turns in the slop. I like the cutback and getting back on a dry track, but it’s hard to take too short of a price on a horse coming from a barn that won only one race with 50 starters in 2020.