03/08/2008 11:31AM

Fair Grounds Five



NEW ORLEANS -- The sun is finally out but it's as cold here as it is back home on Long Island, with temperatures in the high 30's as I write. If you're heading out early to the track for Louisiana Derby Day, stop by the paddock at 11:15, where Jay Privman and I will be handicapping the card. Here's the quick version of how I'll be playing the all-stakes pick-five (races 5-9) and pick-4 (races 6-9):

Duncan Kenner Handicap: The most open race in the sequence. Any of these seven except Truelyonbroadway would be no surprise. I'll use the other six somewhere but lean against ML favorites Euroears (undefeated but facing toughest field yet) and Noonmark (perfect-trip winner of last in slop) and emphasize Semaphore Man and Les Grands Trois.

New Orleans Handicap: No knocks on favored Grasshopper but I'll use lightly-raced, possible pace-controller Silver Lord in equal strength.

Mervin Muniz Handicap: Daytona will be heavily favored and while he looks like lone speed he's no bargain on what may be soft turf after a couple of days of rain. Brilliant (12-1 ML) loves some give in the ground and is training sharply Euro import Fracas fits well here in his American debut for Tagg. Twilight Meteor has excuses his last two and the talent to be competitive here.

Fair Grounds Oaks: I'll use three parts Indian Blessing 3-5 to one part Proud Spell 6-5.

Louisiana Derby: Pyro has a recency and prep edge and is a likely winner at a short price. I'll back up with J Be K, in case he gets loose and forgets to stop while stretching out, and Tale of Ekati, who's going to be an important 3-year-old but is in a tough spot for his return.

Full report later tonight after I thaw out.