From now through the end of the meet, I’ll be covering the daily racing at the Fair Grounds in New Orleans on the In The Money Podcast website. I’ll likely be tinkering with the format of my posts of the next weeks, so any feedback is welcome! Good luck to everyone playing today.
Best Bet on the Card: Race 2, #4 Better Biz (6-1 ML)
Most Likely Winner: Race 3: #8 Our Slick Chick (5-2 ML)
Race 1: 6-4-2
Seven horses in the opener with two longshots that are hard to play and five shorter priced horses. I’ll side with Data Load (6) who was forwardly placed with a similar group before finishing second to a runaway winner. I think he’ll sit a good, forwardly placed trip from an outward post, as opposed to being on the inside last time out. Breakin’ Daylight (4) made his first start in over a year at Remington last time out. It was a useful race, but not his best. I’m not sure how much he has left in the tank, but I would think he could improve off his last. Ekaterinoslav (2) is probably the most consistent in the group, but I don’t love the cut back from a two turn race to a one turn race. To me, that cutback in this situation makes him a vulnerable morning line favorite.
Race 2: 4-5-7
I look at this race and see a fair amount of speed horses that tend to get tired, and not finish well. I’m betting that Better Biz (4) can rebound off a disastrous effort last time out in an off the turf race at this condition. Her two turf efforts offer hope that she will appreciate the surface change, and she’s shown an ability to come from off the pace, which I believe is beneficial with this field. Bella Belle (5) is probably the best of the horses that struggle to finish. She was passed and lost by three lengths at this level last out. Her best turf race to date came on a yielding course, which it doesn’t look she’s going to get today. She’s still an exotics player, but if I’m paring down a Pick 5 ticket, I’d likely leave her off. Tupelo Hon E (7) is another one that might be coming late to hit the exotics. She has only one win in 17 turf tries, but has hit the board in eight other starts.
Race 3: 8-2-9
I expect two horses to take the bulk of the action at the windows, Katie The Cutie (3) and Our Slick Chick (8). My strategy is to try to beat Katie the Cutie, as I’m not confident that she’ll be able to repeat her last effort. Our Slick Chick on the other hand is more consistent. Her last was dull, but she drops to a level she has dominated in the past. Her last two starts on dirt around this level of competition were eight and eleven length wins this past summer at Louisiana Downs. This is a good rebound spot for her. Malibu Moira (2) has been more focused on turf races, but her dirt form is just as good. She’s second off a layoff, so I expect her to move forward off her last. Christeana’s Kiss (9) doesn’t have great running lines, but her two races on this oval are two of her best career races. I think she could be a horse at double digit odds that could hit the trifecta.
Race 4: 1-5-6
This race is all about what to do with Chantry Flats (6). He’s been on the shelf since July after a dull effort with $40K N2L claimers at Saratoga. If he can get back to being the horse that he was in 2018 and 2019, he probably wins this race for fun. Perhaps the barn change gets him to resemble his old self, but I’m not sold, and I think you have to try to beat him. I’m a sucker for horses whose form drastically improves in their first time on the grass and two horses in this race fit that mold; Biarritz (1) and Beachcombing (5). Of the two, I prefer Biarritz, who ran a monster race in his one try on the grass while sprinting at Arlington. He’ll have to prove that he can get two turns on grass, but I’m encouraged that his best Beyer figure on the dirt came in a two turn race. This is his first start for a tag after dull efforts in two races taken off the turf. Beachcombing grinded to the front and then dug in to break his maiden in his first turf try last month. He’s a $500K purchase, that is still offered for a tag, which isn’t great, but I thought his effort was gutsy enough to play him back. I’ll use Chantry Falls in third, as most of his efforts, with the exception of his last one, would be good enough to beat most of these, but I’ll do so with caution.
Race 5: 8-1-9
I really wanted to have a strong opinion on this race, as it’s the last leg of the early Pick 4 and Pick 5, and the first leg of the late Pick 5, but this race is a tough nut to crack. There’s a decent amount of early speed, and hardly anyone that really wants to close. I ended up on Ronnie’s Peso (8) as she looks to have the highest ceiling of the bunch. She finished second twice in her first two career starts before putting everything together last time, while facing state bred maiden special weight foes. Lucky Artie (1) has run her two best races in her career in her last two starts. She moves up in class, but this isn’t the saltiest group for the condition. She has rail position and speed, so as long as she breaks well, she’ll have the shortest distance to the wire. If this race falls apart, the only logical closer feels like Love Bound (9), who would be more appealing on the grass. However, she is second off a layoff and she does have four wins in nine career tries.
Race 6: 1-12-13
Races like this are a testament to how much the Louisiana breeding has grown over the last several years. The Louisiana bred races I remember from many years ago had full fields, and it seemed like most of the horses were sired by one of three horses; Malagra, Zuppardo’s Prince, or Zarbyev. This is not a knock on those horses in anyway, but when you look at a race like this, and see several proven and up and coming sires (and dam sires), it’s hard not to get excited about the future of Louisiana racing. That being said, this is another tricky handicapping puzzle where coverage is going to be necessary. Five contenders in here are the second through sixth place finishers of the 2nd race on 12/27/20 at the same condition. However, I’m looking at two other horses on top. Martinized (1) didn’t have the cleanest break when trying the grass for the first time last out, but he finished with interest in a 5 and ½ furlong sprint. His pedigree suggests he’ll get the mile, and his rail draw is advantageous as many of the main contenders will have a wide draw. Brad Cox sends out Musta Got Lost (12) for his second career start after a respectable try on the main track last month. He’s sired by Hit It A Bomb, whose horses seem to be winning everywhere they show up. I’d think this is what he wants to do, but I’m not sure how much value we’ll get. Your Time’s Coming (13) is the one with a noticeable excuse from the 12-27 race. He finished fourth that day, finishing with interest after having some traffic issues in the stretch. He’ll have to overcome post 13 today, which is no small feat, but I think there’s upside here.
Race 7: 2-1-7
The late Pick 5 sequence doesn’t get any easier here. We have a suspect dropper in Boyfriend Material (8), who was claimed for $40K in November, and makes his first start for Margolis while offered for a $17,500 tag. If he’s anywhere near the same horse as he was in his last five races, he’s going to be awfully tough to beat, however that’s a big if. In addition, we have four other horses that significantly regressed in their one start on this oval at this meet. I’m siding with Verified (2) who threw down the gauntlet with maiden special weight company last time, while making his first start in 18 months. He has the rail and the best speed in this field, which sets him up to try the same tactics if he’s good enough. Beschizza is named on both parts of the Roussel entry, so that usually means only one of the two will go in this race. If Man of Honor (1) goes, I prefer him to his stablemate, Wandering West (1A). Man of Honor has had two off races after racing well in the summer at Gulfstream, but he did have notable trouble in both starts. He was a beaten favorite at this level last out, but he does offer some value if he stays around his 9-2 morning line. Lafitte’s Fleet (7) has hit the board in his last five starts, and has been on the board in all three career starts here. He makes sense as an underneath play in this spot.
Race 8: 3-1-12
If he takes to the local course, Hitters Park (3) is the one they’ll have to beat. His turf form at Woodbine last year is better than most the field. He ran a monster race there off the layoff, earning a 96 Beyer, but hasn’t run on the turf since. Foley has had a very good meet so far and this mount looks live to me. Hotfoot (1) is worthy of a second chance after running a dull race on a good course here on 1/9. He ran his best races on very firm going at Canterbury this summer, winning four in a row at one point. He’s second off a layoff, and is a candidate to improve off that effort. Channel Won (12) was claimed for $17,500 last out and now runs with the $10,000 tag today, which is not ideal. However, he likes racing here and I think the outside draw fits his running style.
Race 9: 1-6-7
State bred allowance races bookend the late Pick 5. I’ll take Joemo (1) off the Faucheux claim. He won here with state bred claimers last out and now moves to allowance company for a higher percentage outfit. Beschizza and Faucheux are winning at a 35% clip when they team up here. City Park (6) returned home after spending the summer at Gulfstream. He’s usually competitive at this level of competition, but he only has his maiden victory to show for it. Luck of the Draw (7) is second off the layoff today after getting a wide journey in his first start of meet. The horse who beat him that day has already come back to win again, so despite the racing coming off the grass, there was some talent in that race.