The $75,000 Buddy Diliberto Stakes launches the older&#45;male turf&#45;route stakes program during the Fair Grounds meet. The stakes division moves on to the Colonel E.R. Bradley in January, the Fair Grounds Handicap in February, and the Muniz Memorial in March, but for an opening salvo, this is a strong one.The Diliberto drew 11 entrants including Grade 1 turf winner Henley&rsquo;s Joy, Grade 2 turf winner Cross Border, and Grade 3 turf winner Dot Matrix. Spectacular Gem hasn&rsquo;t won a graded turf stakes but has multiple grass&#45;stakes wins on his résumé, including a couple at Fair Grounds, and is 4&#45;1 on the track&rsquo;s morning line.Cross Border is listed as the 3&#45;1 morning&#45;line favorite, which seems reasonable. One of a seemingly endless string of older stakes&#45;class turf&#45;route horses trained by Mike Maker, Cross Border finished second in the Grade 2 Bowling Green this past summer but was placed first when Sadler&rsquo;s Joy was disqualified. That performance likely marked his 2020 peak but hardly was a radical outlier, and while Cross Border finished a well&#45;beaten third last out facing New York&#45;breds in the Mohawk Stakes at Belmont Park, the two in front of him, stablemate Somelikeithotbrown and Therapist, are graded&#45;stakes class runners. Dot Matrix finished fourth in the Mohawk, a half&#45;length behind Cross Border, but unlike Cross Border, Dot Matrix is Fair Grounds&#45;familiar with two wins and a second from four local starts. He finished unplaced in the 2020 Muniz after losing all chance by rearing at the break. Dot Matrix won the John Connally Stakes last January at Sam Houston and trainer Brad Cox said Saturday&rsquo;s start is something of a prep race for a repeat Connally bid.Beyer Speed Figure&#45;wise, Spectacular Gem put together a career&#45;best four&#45;start summer and fall campaign that yielded two good wins, a sixth in the Grade 1 Old Forester Turf Classic in September, and a third in a tough Keeneland allowance race in October.&ldquo;I was hoping it would be a little easier down here for him to set up for bigger things down the road,&rdquo; trainer Jimmy Baker said. &ldquo;He&rsquo;s training good and had a tough fall, couple of tough races, but this one looks like it&rsquo;s going to be just as tough.&rdquo;Spectacular Gem is sure to leave running from a wide draw but will have front&#45;end company from Sailing Solo.Henley&rsquo;s Joy won the Grade 1 Belmont Derby in July 2019 but has not managed even a top&#45;three finish in seven races since. He makes his third start since being transferred to trainer Steve Asmussen, who also entered the dirt horse, Tenfold. Captivating Moon similarly figures to start here only in the unlikely event of a rain&#45;off.Salty Scherer bunchThe $75,000 Richie Scherer Memorial, like the Diliberto, attracted a field that wouldn&rsquo;t be misplaced racing for twice the purse. The 5 1/2&#45;furlong grass race is difficult to parse, with a host of plausible winners.Just Might exits the Breeders&rsquo; Cup Turf Sprint, where an inside draw doomed whatever chance he might&rsquo;ve had. Just Might wants to lead or race forwardly in the clear, but he broke flat from post 2, got buried behind horses and did little running. Just Might won the Colonel Power Stakes turf&#45;sprinting on the Fair Grounds course last season and before the BC Turf Sprint turned in four starts at Churchill and Keeneland plenty strong to capture the Scherer. Just Might could find himself in a speed duel with Hollis, who is both very fast and tough to figure. Claimed for $50,000 in May, Hollis comes into his first Fair Grounds start having earned formidable Beyers of 99 and 96 in his last two starts. But his turf&#45;sprint win two races back at Pimlico came over a boggy course, and his narrow main&#45;track defeat last out at Churchill happened on a sloppy track. On a more standard grass course and with speed drawn to his outside, Hollis might struggle to maintain form.Fast Boat, another graded&#45;stakes class turf sprinter, drew poorly in post 10, especially with the temporary turf rail down, a configuration that frequently favored inside running positions during the last Fair Grounds meet.Archidust had a strong three&#45;race string through the fall before taking a step back Nov. 28 in the Turf Sprint Championship at Aqueduct, where he was sixth. He&rsquo;d be negative value at anything close to his 7&#45;2 morning&#45;line odds, while trainer Steve Asmussen also entered Nitrous, who is a dirt horse unproven on grass.Inside&#45;drawn Guildsman could find the fence in the early stages. The 3&#45;year&#45;old found the competition Oct. 18 in the Grade 2 Nearctic Stakes at Woodbine slightly too stern but finished solidly for fifth and appears to be improving for trainer Brendan Walsh, who shipped the French import from his South Florida string.Cox sends &lsquo;Message&rsquo;As if trainer Brad Cox&rsquo;s massive stable wasn&rsquo;t already overflowing with riches, graded turf&#45;stakes winner Secret Message was moved under Cox&rsquo;s care after Spendthrift Farm bought her for $625,000 at the Keeneland November Breeding Sale.Cox sent Secret Message to Fair Grounds, worked her four times, and now runs her in the $75,000 Blushing K. D. Stakes over 1 1/16 miles.&ldquo;She&rsquo;s really been training well,&rdquo; Cox said. &ldquo;It doesn&rsquo;t look like there&rsquo;s a lot of pace in the race, but I noticed looking at her races that she doesn&rsquo;t have to have everything her way.&rdquo;How much pace the Blushing K. D. contains depends on the status of Beautiful Trauma. Fast and talented, Beautiful Trauma has only raced on dirt. She drew post 11 and trainer Tom Amoss said her status for the race, should it remain on turf, was uncertain as of Thursday.Secret Message is only one for her last eight, that victory in her first start this season, the Mint Julep Stakes in May at Churchill, where she beat graded&#45;stakes class fillies La Signare and Zofelle.Dalika looks like no lower than second choice as she drops considerably in class following an even fourth&#45;place finish in the Grade 1 First Lady on Oct. 3 at Keeneland. Longshot Aife has two wins from three Fair Grounds grass starts and the positional pace to get a decent spot from post 9. She could be worth a play at something close to her 20&#45;1 morning&#45;line odds.Tempo quick for Sugar BowlQuick Tempo can put his strong early speed to good use from post 1 and lead all the way in the $75,000 Sugar Bowl, a six&#45;furlong dirt race for 2&#45;year&#45;olds.Going 6 1/2 furlongs in the Nyquist Stakes at Keeneland last month, Quick Tempo led and while no match late for the sharp Chad Brown&#45;trained winner Highly Motivated, he stayed on well for second. Twilight Blue ran into super&#45;talented Mandaloun in a Churchill allowance race last out and while he couldn&rsquo;t keep up late with the winner, he showed vast improvement finishing second. Brad Cox&#45;trained debut winner Gagetown also must be considered.