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.

Richiebee More than 1 year ago
BrooklynSaint: With regards to day to day racing at FG, they have a problem that any New York racing fan can appreciate--it seems like on a 10 race card they are obligated to run 3 and usually 4 La. state bred events. This means that the Racing Secretary is forced to allot plenty of stall space to La Bred runners and the quality of racing is not what it could be. Also I think FG set an unofficial record this year for percentage of races rained off the turf. FG could be, with some tweaking, a major winter race place if it could take better advantage of competing against two tracks(mis)administered by Magna Entertainment, GP and SA. Two weeks ago it was determined that GP's 9 furlong main track is really "about" 9 furlongs. Saturday a graded stakes race is shortened by 1/4 mile apparently taking many handicappers by surprise. Where's the accountability? Note for our host: While living in NO in the early 80s, I enjoyed shrimp and oyster po boys extensively,resulting in a cholesterol count which resembled a zip code. I'd never heard of a corned beef po boy. Could "cajun kosher" be the culinary wave of the future?
Flip Dawson More than 1 year ago
I'm glad Pyro won today, as all the backers will be all over him on Derby Day, knocking him down to 9-5. These nags are not machines--they can't be used as a push button piece of steel to run first whenever the trainer feels like it. There is only one horse to play and I have to keep him to myself. I played him in Pool one (first time I ever used the pool.) There are two others behind him to round out the tri. No decision on Superfecta. What would really be nice would be advance pools to cover the Super and Trifecta bets. Re Pyro, remember faves only win 33% of the time. We'll let Pyro win his last prep, and hopefully, he'll get blocked in the stretch and let some longies lead to the wire. If Pyro wins last prep and the Derby, I'll have to admit I don't know beans, but I just have a funny feelin..........
Dan More than 1 year ago
Still NOT sold on PYRO. Beat marshamallow salesmen to date, plus by Pulpit, who I do not like even a little for Derby chances. I remember losing a ton on Pulpit in a much shorter race he shoulda won, so jury still out on PYRO. Beating a 60-1 shot in a less than Grade-1 field is no recommendation. He ran okay, but slower than Oaks winner on same card. Hmmm? Plus plans to duck big boys in final prep by going in the Blue Grass proves nothing, since most BG runners have no Derby aspirations anyway. Yes, he is taking a cautious route to the KD, but this will not help him in a full Derby field where traffic problems decide who prevails. I would have liked to see him mix it up with a slightly better class field, preferably a large one where he got a tsste of how the KD will be run, a notoriously rough run race not for 'hothouse horses' who have things their own way. What will his response be when he encounters some rank outsider in the KD smacking into him? The Derby looks w-i-d-e open, Pyro fans notwithstanding. He has answered all tests to date, but they were not stern enough to convince me he has the heart to respond when things don't fall his way on 1st Sat in May. Be looking to do a HIGH-SIDE DUTCH on Derby, as winner should pay over $20. My last big dutching score was way back when ARCANGUES, with young Master Jerry Bailey up, won at 133-1, in late 90s Breeders Cup. That win turned a losing day into a winning one. Miracles do happen, now and then.
TONY More than 1 year ago
After watching that dismal La derby I don;t think any of those horses deserve to get to the derby but pyro . The rest of that field couldn;t get a 1 1/4 without a truck pulling them . What an anti climatic race . Kudos for Garrett Gomez on another amazing day with reviving Circular quay .is he is the best jockey in the world right now or what ? He seems to carry a horse over the finish line . Just the best !
Rich K More than 1 year ago
Steve - Thank you for taking the time to sign my wifes copies of your books on Saturday. FG is a neat little track. I don't understand all the Pyro bashing, 2 bad trips in a row and he's done all thats been asked of him so far this spring. What were your thoughts on the La. Derby? Rich K
Bryan More than 1 year ago
I personally am tired of hearing about how this class of three year olds is sub par or bad or whatever other derogatory term is used these days. How can anyone say something like that when we have not even completed three months of the new year. These things should be looked at in hindsight in December...not in March because you have one or two horses that look better than the others. If the doom of the three year old class has already been determined...well...I say lets hand out the three year old of the year award right now. Why wait till the end of the year??
Glen More than 1 year ago
Steve, Yes, it was cool yesterday. However, Bloody Mary and corned beef sandwich warmed me up very nicely. As far as betting goes, Mervin Muniz undid my Pick 5 and Pick 4 tickets. Hopefully, your next trip to FG will offer much warmer weather and firm turf course!
Jeff More than 1 year ago
Steve.... Any insight into the seemingly low exacta payoffs at Gulfstream? Perefect example is Saturday's 3rd race....$27 winner followed by the lukewarm 2/1 fav....$1 exacta pays $37.00??? I usually like playing exacts but GP is either taking out a huge %age...or somehow bettor's are pounding the eventual winning combo?? Any thought.
Dick W More than 1 year ago
Although I agree with some of the posters that this years crop of 3 year olds overall is somewhat weak, I don't agree that Pyro's performances should be judged on the basis of the slow times. My goodness, he won the Risen Star by 2 lengths while pulling away after running last for most of the race. And he just won the La. Derby by 3 prompting the comment in the charts 'clearly the best'. Who cares if he didn't break the track record or even come close. Anyway, I certainly think he has done everything asked of him so far this year and we may yet see him run a fast race when he gets a good pace to run at.
chisox More than 1 year ago
Steve, in light of Saturday's fog at Aqueduct I would like to hear your opinion on this. Personally I think it borders on absurd that they run on these days. I am sure the visibility for the jockeys and horses are fine but how can the stewards see anything?. Are they getting better looks than the public?.