We have a ten race card that will kick off the final month of racing for the 2020-21 Fair Grounds Meet. There aren’t a ton of big prices that jump off the page, but there are several competitive races and rolling exotic sequences on the program.
State bred N3L claimers running with a $5K tag start off the month of March in New Orleans. I think the one to beat in here is M V P Mookie (3). He has improved over three starts at the current meet, while finishing second to a much the best winner last time out. He was claimed by Broberg and gets a notable rider upgrade to Colby Hernandez. I think this four year old has more upside than most in here. Musical Man (4) is the most likely threat while taking a significant drop in class after a wide journey in the slop last out. Prior to that he had a dull effort on turf two back. He’s been competitive in the not-so distant past though, so there’s reason to believe he can find his best stride again at this level.
Three year old Louisiana breds that have never won twice, run with a $25,000-$20,000 price tag in the back end of the early double. Three of the eight in here are dropping in class to the claiming ranks where the other five are moving up in class, three of which are facing winners for the first time. Two of the droppers seem to have an edge over the others. I think there will be better value with Get Them Justin (5) who caught wet tracks in his first two starts of the meet, while facing allowance company. He drew off after dueling to win on debut on a fast track this summer at Evangeline, so I think there’s a reasonable chance that he’ll improve on dry ground while also getting some class relief. Creole Charlie (4) is the other logical player in here. He debuted for a tag and just missed, then handily defeated maiden special weight foes in his second career start. His connections rightfully took a swing with some state bred stakes and allowances, and while he didn’t embarrass himself, he is probably better suited for this level of competition.
This is the first turf contest of the card, as the rails have been moved out 16 feet for the week. We have a maiden special weight race for fillies and mares three year olds and upward, at the 5 and ½ distance, where all one turn turf sprints are carded at the Fair Grounds. Four of the nine entered are three year old fillies and the other five are four year old fillies. With the exception of Ostracize (4), the other three year old fillies are making their debut, so in this spot, I think there’s an advantage to the experienced horses. I have a few questions about both of the Stidham horses, so I think this race could be a race to take a stand with Ghosting Kim (5), especially for smaller budget players. Her first two races weren’t great, as she broke slow in her turf debut at Gulfstream and then faltered on the dirt at Aqueduct. She came back at Indiana Grand in September to run an improved race and then resurfaced here in February, where she came up a length short of winning. She rates well and has a decent closing kick. I think she’ll get some pace to run at, especially if one or two of the first timers have a little early zip. I like her chances today while second off the layoff. Both Stidham horses are live, but I think they’re both vulnerable. Kizzy B (7) has had seven dirt tries, most of which have come at two turns. I think there was a thought that she could have been competitive in some of the lucrative races for three year old fillies last year, seeing as how her connections paid just shy of $200,000 for her. There is some turf ability within her pedigree, so I’m not necessarily worried about the surface. I do wonder if the 5 and ½ Furlongs is a little short for her, and she may be better suited to some of the longer one turn turf races offered in the spring in New York. Chick Be Quick (2) is quick enough to make the lead sprinting or routing, and that seems to be what she wants to do. She has struggled to finish her races in the past though. She’s definitely the quickest early of those that have run, but I think some of the first timers will be sent with her, so I’m not sure she’ll get an easy lead. Of the first timers, I think the expectations are highest for the duo trained by Neil Pessin in Flatter Me Silly (1) and Mischievous Mel (1A). Both horses are 6 figure purchases, and Beschizza is listed to ride both, so I’m not sure both will go. I believe both will need the race, but I can’t fault anyone for looking to either one on deeper tickets to try to carve out some value in the early sequences.
This is a conditioned $5,000 claimer for four year olds and up who have not three races at over a mile in a year. Dictator (1) just barely sneaks in to this condition, as he emphatically won his third race in the year time period last time out, beating multi-conditioned claimers at the same tag. One of those three wins came at a flat mile, so he remains eligible for this condition, but draws a pretty tough field. However, he was the lone speed last out, and he drew off to win by 10+ lengths. I think the other two that want to be forwardly placed, draw to the outside, and aren’t necessarily need the lead types. Killeen (5) is a claim and drop for Amoss, which is a move that he does a lot (which you can see he also did with Aqualityindividual (4) in December). He claimed this horse off Ron Faucheux on 1/31 for $10,000 out of a tougher race on the grass. He drops him in for a $5,000 tag, getting class relief. The idea is that if he wins and is claimed, you get the $5K for the claiming tag and $12,000 for the purse (60% of the $20,000 listed). Once fees are paid out, it’s still a modest profit for the connections. If the horse is claimed and doesn’t win, it’s a loss, but not a huge one for a large outfit. His main track figures are better than most here, and he’s never run for a lower tag. However, he has not been in the Winner’s Circle since July of 2019, so despite the high percentage connections, he’s a tough one to single. Catalogue (7) had never gone further than 7 Furlongs until beating open $5K claimers in the slop last time out. He was beaten by Nice Work two back, who recently came back to run a strong second with better horses. I can see him moving forward in his second straight route race and getting first run on Dictator. Aqualityindividual (4) is the one longer priced horses here who is in decent form and may be a candidate to win on his best day. He drops back down to this level after two tries against better. Two of three horses that beat him last out at Delta, came back to win in their next start, including Run Tappy who beat multi-conditioned $5K claimers by 4 lengths on this course on 2/20.
I’m not sure how this optional $50K claiming/N1X allowance race will be bet, but it’s all about Off We Go (8) for me, hopefully getting on the turf for the first time. 9-2 is the morning line, and I feel like that would be a gift, because, I think she’s very logical here. She lost her debut to Travel Column on Oaks day in September, and followed that effort up with a win on Opening Day of the fall meet at Keeneland. She tried the Songbird stakes on the Breeders’ Cup Undercard, but had a rough trip starting on the inside in a 14 horse field scramble. She was beaten by next out stakes winner Joy’s Rocket that day. She just missed in her season debut in an off the turf race at these conditions two starts ago, and she took her shot and failed in the Rachel Alexandra most recently. I think the Oaks dream is dead for this one and they can go back and get her on the grass, which, according to her pedigree, will be what she wants to do. On deeper tickets, Inajiffy (6) was visually striking, rallying to win last to first at 31-1 in her debut. Her sire Street Boss is one of the better turf sprint sires out there, so this is what she wants to do. I think this will be a good test for her. Taylor’s Tourist (5) was a longshot play of mine last out, when she was a decent third at this level on dirt, going off at 10-1. She gets back to the turf, where she has some good efforts. She had a rough trip in her only local turf sprint, and she looks to be getting back into better form today.
Three year old maiden fillies run for a $30,000-$25,000 tag at 6 Furlongs in the first leg of the late Pick 5. There are two short priced horses on the morning line in Onerollofthedice (3) at 9-5 from the Brad Cox barn and Wrapper Rule (5) at 8-5 from the All Stall barn. They are the two likeliest winners in here, both making their second career starts, but I have questions about both. I have less questions about Onerollofthedice who drops in for a tag that is equal to her purchase price after trying a very salty maiden special weight on debut. Brad Cox wins with 30% of his second time starters and 34% of his maiden special weight horses dropping to maiden claiming company. I do find it a little curious that Marcelino Pedroza gets the call, when Shaun Bridgmohan, who has been riding first call for Cox since Geroux left for Oaklawn, does not have a mount here. Wrapper Rule was purchased for $300,000, and debuted at this level in the slop in January. That’s usually a red flag for me, but she ran a decent second that day after a slowish start, plus earning a speed figure that should easily beat this group. My concern is that she wasn’t claimed that day, she showed she can run a bit, yet she’s still offered for a tenth of her hefty purchase price. She would have likely been favored in a maiden special weight race here this past Saturday for three year olds and up, yet she shows up here? I’ll cover her, but I have my doubts. This does feel like a race that could have a bit of a wacky outcome, so spreading on deeper tickets, might not be the worst strategy. Hoodwink (4) has three stats, but only one on a fast track. She was beaten ten lengths by Wrapper Rule in the slop last out, but I wouldn’t be shocked to see that one regress a bit and this one step up a bit, especially on a dry track. She was claimed last out and has three solid works for her new connections. Broadway Fire (2) might be a bit of a reach, but I don’t think she’s impossible in her second career start. She showed some brief speed before fading on the turf against maiden special weight company in December. She was given a little time and now drops and moves to the dirt. Riquelme is riding very well right now, and Joe Duhon has been winning some more races after starting the meet on the cold streak.
The late Pick 4 starts with a maiden special weight contest for three year old fillies at two turns on the turf. I thought Office Party (3) ran a huge race last time out in her second career try, definitely covering more ground than the two fillies that beat her that day (Lijana and Love in the Air). She draws post two today as opposed to post 11, so I think she will get a better trip into the first turn today. I think she had a tougher trip than Walk Me Home (7) who was drawn wider than her that day, but cleared the field early and saved ground into the first turn. I can see that one improving some in her second career try on grass, and she’s the second Air Force Blue filly sent out by Tom Amoss and ridden by James Graham on this card (Off We Go in Race 5 being the other). Fairchild (9) has been away since the day after Christmas after closing well in her debut while sprinting on the grass. Her dam is a full sister to Rachel Alexandra, but she is sired by Speightstown, so grass is not out of the question. She’s the morning line favorite though, and I think she’s a bit vulnerable here. Gathered Flowers (1A) ran last in the same race as Fairchild and did not run well in her debut that day. She’s probably meant for two turns, so I don’t hold that effort against her. She could offer some value on deeper tickets. The same could be said for first time starter, Sum Kinda Pretty (8) who has been working steadily for her debut. Al Stall has already won with a few first time starters at this meet.
We have another maiden special weight race here, this one for three year olds going 6 Furlongs. One of the better maiden special weight races of the meet at this level was on January 30th, when He’s In Charge, who made one prior start on Tapeta at Turfway, stopped the clock in a speedy 1:09:4, graduating that day at 28-1. Tulane Tryst (4) was second that day, beaten a little more than three lengths, and it was another 8 lengths back to Colonel Bowman (7), who was the favorite that day. Wild for Wycliff, who was third in that race, came back to run a strong second, beaten only a neck, on 2/16, behind a nice Brad Cox second time starter in Warrant. All of that being said, it’s going to be hard to beat Tulane Tryst today. The word was out that this son of Into Mischief could be a runner, as he went off at 17-10 odds, narrowly second choice that day. He earned a solid figure in a fast race and has been working well. I’m a little curious as to the story on why Beschizza is off and why Saez is on, but regardless, I think it will take a big effort to beat him. Al Stall has a well meant first timer in K C Rocket (5) who has a long string of regular workouts. He’s sired by Kantharos, and was clearly speedy enough to be sold for $500,000 at the OBS Sales last April. Stall sent out Carribean Caper to win on debut in a fast 6 Furlong maiden special weight race on Risen Star Day.
The Thursday feature is a good one, as it’s carded as an optional $40K claimer/N3X allowance or non-winners of $10K twice other than maiden, claiming, starter, or restricted races. Only Aife (4), who was claimed out of the 1/31 race at these same conditions, is entered today for the claiming tag. This race has more depth than that one, but my top choice was third in that same spot. West Bank Baby (8) tried turf for the first time and ran a very strong race, just getting passed late. That was also her first race around two turns in her career, and her pedigree suggests that this is where she’ll be successful. She drew the rail that day, and used that post to set the tempo, but now is posted midpack. I don’t think she needs to be on the lead, so Graham should have options going into the first turn in order to navigate a good trip. I think she’ll be able to build off her last effort. Mizzen Beau (6) was the winner of the Bison City on the Tapeta at Woodbine in September, and ran a very credible 4th in the Black Eyed Susan in her most recent start. She has the look of a filly that can run on any surface, so it makes sense that Norm Casse kicks of her 2021 campaign on the grass. I think expectations are high for her, and a big effort here would give her plenty of stakes options to choose from in the spring. Ylikeidis (2) ran big last out, when she beat West Bank Baby, finishing second. She hit the front that day and just yielding in the final strides. Being a four year old, I think she will continue to improve throughout her campaign.
Louisiana bred maiden claimers going 1 flat mile, running with a $12,500 tag, will close the Thursday card. Leading trainers, Tom Amoss and Ron Faucheux have the two principal horses in here in Last to Know (9) and Kamara Vision (7). However, I’m looking for a mild upset with Guilty Lover (6) for Al Stall. I don’t love the speed figure regression, but he dropped to this level and tried two turns for the first time last time out. He was further back than normal that day, but closed well enough to be 2nd. I think that experience will prove beneficial today in a race where the two horses that will likely be heavily bet, aren’t that much better than he is. Last to Know (9) is a little more desirable to me among the two favorites. He faltered at Delta with maiden special weight company last out, and now drops to the $12,500 maiden claiming tag level. His sprint debut here two back with better was good enough to be a factor with these. Kamara Vision (7) is dropping from maiden special, but I’m not totally sold on his dirt form. He seemed more competitive on the grass, but he could pick up his feet at this lower level of competition.