by The Oracle
We head back to the Fair Grounds today for the featured Louisiana Derby! Several nice horses that we saw run 5 weeks ago are back in action, including Mucho Macho Man in the featured event, Mission Impazible who won last year’s Louisiana Derby, and Bind who was a sensational debut winner in his last start. The Fair Grounds main track has been playing towards early speed despite the long stretch, and favorites are winning an above average 36% of the races. There is also a bonus race at Turfway Park, the Grade 3 Vinery Racing Spiral. The winner of that race will stamp his ticket to Kentucky! Good luck with your selections.
Race 1: This is an msw for 3+ Louisiana breds at 5.5f. I selected My Orthodoc (ML 8-1) who is a first time starter sired by Gilded Time with a sharp workout pattern.
The Result: Patrykus closed for the win at 6-1 over Tensas Canebrake (11-1) and Beanevelent Fun (19-1). My selection was on the lead turning for home and faded to 6th at 7/2. Only three of the twelve runners had raced but one of them got the money in race 1.
Maximum Points: Patrykus 290 Maximum Score: 290 My Score: 0
Race 2: This is an optional claimer for 3yo fillies at 6f. I selected Vin Santo (ML 8-1) who returns from a 2 month layoff after showing good speed at Turfway Park. She makes her first start for sharp trainer Bret Calhoun.
The Result: The sneaky uncoupled entry theory got me here as Calhoun’s other runner, Fast Tip, won decisively at 8-1 over Nakano (6/5) and Marvel Gaye (2-1). This winner was very findable as she had leading rider Napravnik aboard with a top trainer. She scored by nearly 4 lengths in a runaway! My selection never showed the speed I was expecting and finished 5th at 4-1.
Maximum Points: Fast Tip 302 Maximum Score: 592 My Score: 0
Race 3: This is the Bayou Handicap for 4+ fillies and mares at 1m1/16th on the turf. I reached for Born Indy U S A (ML 12-1) who should be on the lead for trainer Steve Margolis. His barn has been clicking along at 30% this meet so I’m reaching for a price with his horse instead of conceding to a short priced runner in a 5 horse field.
The Result: Upperline was much the best at 6/5 with Napravnik aboard. Category Seven (3-1) was up for second and Forest Uproar (3-1) finished third. My selection set the pace and faded to last at 13-1. That’s a riding double for Rosie Napravnik.
Maximum Points: Upperline 96 Maximum Score: 688 My Score: 0
Race 4: This is an optional claimer for 3yos at 1m70. I conceded the race to Bind but he’s not really usable for contest purposes as he only nets 70 points if he wins. So I looked for the probable runner-up who might net more points and settled on Hydro Power (ML 6-1) for the Broussard gang. I’m hoping he gets a clear easy lead and can hang on for second when Bind blows by him at the top of the stretch.
The Result: Prime Cut took advantage of some quick early splits set by Hydro Power and Bind and got the better of Bind in deep stretch to score a 5-1 upset over Bind (1/9) and Hydro Power (15-1). Even though Bind looked clearly best on paper, 1/9 is way too aggressive for a horse making only his second career start having never gone two turns! I got a great price of 15-1 on my pick I just didn’t get the pace scenario I needed. (editor’s note: whoever that was I heard draping the Blackeyed Susans on Bind might want to reconsider.)
Maximum Points: Prime Cut 179 Maximum Score: 867 My Score: 28
Race 5: This is an allowance race for 4+ at 1m1/16th on the turf. I selected Avenstoke (ML 5-1) who looks like the best closer in a race filled with early speed types.
The Result: Bauers Got Hours narrowly prevailed as the lukewarm 5/2 favorite over Avenstoke (6-1) and Lead the Way (29-1). Avenstoke had dead aim on the leader in the final 16th but could not get by.
Maximum Points: Bauers Got Hours 152 Maximum Score: 1,019 My Score: 130
Race 6: This is the Grade 2 New Orleans Handicap for 4+ at 1m1/8. I selected El Caballo (ML 10-1) who I figured would be a big number on the board and he’s only been out of the exacta 4 times out of 15 lifetime races. He hasn’t run in nearly a year but I figured trainer Nick Ralphs must be pretty confident to bring him back in this spot. Mission Impazible and Giant Oak loom the logical short priced horses.
The Result: Mission Impazible worked a nice trip near the front end and won convincingly at 3/2 over Apart (7-1) and Giant Oak (3/2). Trainer Todd Pletcher scoops the chips in the New Orleans handicap with Mission Impazible. My selection ran evenly to finish 6th at 22-1. I was expecting him to show more speed from the rail but he was overmatched today. I still believe it’s very much worthwhile to take swings with horses that have unknown form against short priced faves in these contests because when the faves win it doesn’t hurt that much. It’s a good risk reward situation.
Maximum Points: Mission Impazible 106 Maximum Score: 1,125 My Score: 130
Race 7: This is the Duncan F. Kenner stakes for 3+ at 6f. I selected the entry of Cash Refund and Early Return (2-1) thinking that both parts of the entry had a strong chance to hit the board. Other than that possibility, there’s really nothing good about taking ML favored horses in this format!
The Result: Mambo Galliano rallied strongly into a fast early pace and prevailed at 7-1 over Backtalk (6-1) and Early Return (4/5). The winner was 6 for 6 in the top 2 at Fair Grounds and 9 for 9 in the top two at the distance. He figured. The entry ran poorly which serves me right for picking them in the first place!
Maximum Points: Mambo Galliano 278 Maximum Score: 1,403 My score: 151
Race 8: This is the Grade 2 Fair Grounds Oaks for 3yo fillies at 1m1/16th. I selected St. John’s River (ML 8-1) who has improved with each start and posted two sharp workouts since her last race. There should be enough early speed in here to set up her late run.
The Result: Daisy Devine (9/2) returned from a 2 month layoff to win over St. John’s River (7-1) and Niji’s Grand Girl (5-1). Favored Inglorious (6/5) was a no-threat fourth. The winner had excellent tactical speed and had worked a bullet 5f recently. She broke her maiden for a 30K tag back in December and is a Graded stakes winner four months later. Doubt she will be available for a tag any time soon after banking 300K today!
Maximum Points: Daisy Devine 202 Maximum Score: 1,605 My Score: 289
Race 9: This is the Grade 2 Mervin Muniz Jr. Memorial Handicap for 4+ at 1m1/8th on the turf. I selected Workin for Hops (ML 6/1) who can control the early pace with Napravnik aboard.
The Result: Smart Bid (3-1) won a nose decision over Expansion (13-1) and it was another head back to Moryba (8/5). It was another head back to Workin for Hops (4-1) in fourth. A four way photo on the line!
Maximum Points: Smart Bid 154 Maximum Score: 1,759 My Score: 289
Vinery Racing Spiral: This is the featured Grade 3 Spiral at Turfway Park. I selected Rescind the Trade (ML 12-1) who ships in from New York and makes his first start on the polytrack. I liked his race two starts back when he beat Pants on Fire who runs in today’s Louisiana Derby and a good price seems assured. Positive Response will be the favorite off his dominating win in the John Battaglia memorial.
The Result: Animal Kingdom chased a fast early pace and closed strongly to win at 3-1 over Decisive Moment (6-1) and Twinspired (14-1). The favorite faded after setting some fast early splits. My selection either hated the surface or had a physical issue as he trailed throughout and was eased at 13-1. Animal Kingdom is in the Derby if they want to try it but he has never run over a dirt surface so he would be a huge longshot if he enters. He’s bred for the grass by Leroidesanimaux.
Maximum Points: Animal Kingdom 332 Maximum Score: 2,091 My Score: 289
Race 10: This is the featured Grade 2 Louisiana Derby for 3yos at 1m1/8th. Mucho Macho Man is the solid favorite off his victory in last month’s Risen star. He looks pretty solid but I wanted to avoid the favorite so I selected Left (ML 10-1) who might have some upside. He is undefeated and working sharply for trainer Stall and has possibly been winning with something left in the tank. I’m expecting him to be forwardly placed early. I thought the 10-1 price was worth the risk.
The Result: Pants on Fire with Napravnik aboard turned the tables on Mucho Macho Man and scored a 6-1 upset over longshot Nehro (36-1) with Mucho Macho Man settling for third. No excuse for favorite Mucho Macho Man as he flattened out in the final 16th. Longshot Nehro got the most contest points for his second place finish. He was a recent maiden winner at Oaklawn for the Asmussen barn and showed much better early speed today. He nearly caught the winner on the line with a rail rally. I got 16-1 on Left, but he was caught 5 wide into the first turn and wide again on the far turn. He didn’t show the early speed I needed and was an also-ran 7th. Left wasn’t right! Maximum Points: Nehro 860
Maximum Score: 2,951 My Score: 289
Race 11: This is a claiming race for 4+ at 7.5f on the turf. I selected Carson’s Honor (ML 5-1) who will control the early pace and has won 2 of his last 3 on the turf in wire to wire fashion. To be honest the way the turf is playing today I don’t like his chances! Speed has been tiring badly.
The Result: Approvedbythemint gives Napravnik her fourth win on the card as he closed strongly for the win at 8-1 over Smoothcideup (7-1) and Desert Wheat (7/2). Closers dominated once again on the turf. My selection set the pace to mid-stretch and faded out at 3-1. Maximum Points: Approvedbythemint 324
Maximum Score: 3,275 My Score: 289
Race 12: The final contest race is an msw for 3yo fillies at 1m70. I selected Indy Annestesia (ML 8-1) who makes her second career start after debuting at Gulfstream Park last month. She adds blinkers today and should improve with experience. She was a 325K purchase and is by A.P. Indy. The heavy favorite is Might but no there’s no harm if Might wins at odds-on. Take somebody else.
The Result: Napravnik gets “one for the thumb” aboard Might as he drew off impressively at 3/5 over Indy Annestesia (7-1) and D’oro Princess (5-1). Indy Annestesia got the most contest points for her second place finish.
Maximum Points: Indy Annestesia 88 Maximum Score: 3,363 My Score: 377
Summary: For the weekly contest prize, Nehro puts you on your way as he was about 25% of the total available points. Somewhere in the 1,700 – 2,000 range is a fantastic score! As for evaluating the Derby preps for today, nothing jumped out at me that looked very strong. I would be inclined to ignore the horses that came out of today’s preps in future races. It’s probably the end of the line for horses like Machen and Elite Alex who needed to move forward to stay on target to get their shot. Maybe Nehro is the horse that would intrigue me going forward as an improving son of Mineshaft from the Asmussen barn. I had a tough two contest days at Fair Grounds and didn’t pick a single winner either time! My contest point totals have been hot and cold this year, hopefully I can turn up the heat again next time. We have a bye next week so I will be back in two weeks!