It’s Friday, thank goodness, and time to rock and roll the weekend. Lots of good racing all over the country on Saturday, and the beginning of the Triple Crown season, what with both the Mucho Macho Man Stakes at Gulfstream Park and the Sham Stakes at Santa Anita. And, we will be just a week away from the Lecomte Stakes at the Fair Grounds.

For TGIF, let’s go to the Big Easy. And, here’s a closer look at the card:

1st: 2-1-6-1A-3-5…Red Hot Cherry (2) tries this bottom level for the second straight time. Adds 70 more yards today, but went wide in the last try as the 2-1 favorite, and that may have cost her the win. Trainer is .21% with next out after beaten as the PT favorite, and is off to an OK start with a record of 2-2-2 in just 17 starts this meet. Catty Krys (1) drops way down in class for this one. Couldn’t make the lead in the slop in the last, but will want to push the pace from the inside post. Gets a nice rider switch for this one. Roommate Miss Dreamsicle (1A) comes into this one off a win at this level, but moves up a class notch. I will bet the 2-1 across the board and then box the 2-1-6 in the exacta.

2nd: 1-2-6-5-4…Reece’s Dilemma (1) drops from the LA-bred MSW ranks to MC12,500 today, and the trainer hits with .19% of these droppers. Thanks to my friends at BRISNET for pointing out that the rail post is winning with a 19% clip during the meet, as well. This one was well-supported at the betting windows on debut last July. Solid work in the slop at Delta Downs on Dec. 28. The pick. Freda’s Smooth Air (2) gets a class drop in half from MC25 to this level. Trainer has hit with .33% of those making this kind of drop in the previous 6 starters. Cuts back in distance from the 6Fs to 51/2 today. Jus Wow (6) and Hannah Banana (5) both have a shot in this spot. I bet the 1 to win/place/show solidly and then key the 1 over/under all the numbers listed.

 3rd: 2-4-8-11-1-9…Resilient Rick (2) gets the slight nod in this one for me. This 5YO gelding by War Chant is coming into this one off a near-miss second against open company on Nov. 23. The winner of that one is back today (Consultation — #7), but this one went wide into both turns and sports a record of 3-2-2 on the grass and has the one second over this turf course. Should be better today and was the beaten fav in the last try. Ghurair (4) was claimed off Steve Asmussen in the last race, which he won by a nose over this grass course. This trainer scores with .15% of first timers for the barn. This one is a dead closer and will need some racing luck and room, but retains the top jock who put him in the winner’s circle last time out. Crescent Drive (2) gets a class drop today after three rough appearances against tougher foes. This is the third try off a layoff and this trainer hits with .29% of these kind. Has sported a nice record of 2-3-2 in 14 grass races before, and likes this distance, in particular. I bet the 2 to win/place/show and then box the 2-4-8 in one exacta, and then key the 2-4-8 over the 11-1-9-7 in a smaller version.

4th: 1-2-3-6-4…Deadly Ruler (1) is my first Best Bet of the Day. This 4YO gelded son of Roman Ruler will drop into the claiming ranks and face LA-breds only – at the same time — for the first time ever. Had a very nice work here on Christmas Eve for a trainer who is looking for his first win of the meet after 14 shots. Picks up a top rider, but looks much the best against these. Catches the golden rail today, too, and should take advantage at the 6-furlong distance. Judge N Ruler (2) gets a drop, as well. Goes for a solid barn operation, and figures to be closer to the front in this spot today. It’s Mike’s Turn (3) goes for a top trainer here and figures to be closer to the pace with the drop in class for this one, too. I bet the 1 to win/place/show and then key the 1 over/under all the rest of the numbers listed.

5th: 11-2-10-5-1-7-3…Tiz de Lovely (11) is on the AE list and will only get in if there is a scratch. But I like this one much better than the roommate, who did get in the body of the field – Cajie’s Hope (3). They both have the same rider listed, so only one will run today. If the 11 does not draw in, then I go to Shook (2), who is by Data Link, a son of War Front. This filly should love the move over to the turf today afer running twice on the dirt against tougher on the West Coast. Has been working very nicely for a barn that hits with .15% of firsters on the grass. This one’s dam has 4 winners from 7 starters and 1 turf winner already. Henry’s Honey (10) gets the drop out of the MSW ranks for the first time today, and this daughter of Giant’s Causeway should appreciate the relief. Likes to spin out front, and gets a good pace rider today. But she hasn’t hit the board yet in the first five outs and will have to move up considerably to do so. I can’t leave out either the 7 (Miss Mercken) or Cajie’s Hope, if that one does go. Miss Mercken is dropping in class and will get the grass for the first time. This one is by Munnings and out of a St. Jovite mare – and should love the turf. At 8-1 odds, my first Longshot Play of the day. If the 11 does not get in, then I bet the 2-7 across the board and then box the 2-7-10 in one exacta, and then key the 2-7-10 over/under all the other numbers in two more smaller ones.

6th: 1-5-4-6-3-2…Midnight Candle (1) is my second Best Bet of the Day. The rail is winning at .25% rate at this distance, and this one has a record of 1-1-1 in 6 starts, but 1-1-1 in 4 on the dirt. Should move up on the move back to the dirt today. And, to make it even better, this 3YO Midnight Lute colt gets a huge rider switch, and is coming off a terrific work down at Evangeline Downs. Can’t overlook this guy who goes for a trainer who wins with .26% of first time claimers. Uncle Pepe (5) and Notation (4) both figure to have a shot in here, but the one that I think has the best chance to upset is Good Play (3), who is coming out of a strong MC win here. Trainer is red hot. I bet the 1 to win/place/show and then key the 1 over/under all the numbers listed.

7th: 7-1-2-3-4…Keep an eye out to see if this one is moved off the grass. If it is, the #11 has to be the top choice. If not, I go solidly with Mo Tom (7) – a stakes winner who will be making his first start ever over the grass. He has put up a record of 4-2-4 in 18 starts over the dirt and has won nearly $700,000 to date. But Tom Amoss will switch to the grass today and puts the blinkers back on to help get him a bit sharper for this try. I bite and I’m all in. Chip Leader (1), One Mean Man (2) and Coco Mon (3) have all won multiple times over the grass course. Chip Leader is 3-1-1 over this grass course; and One Mean Man is 2-1-1 in six trips over it. So…no surprises if they run good again. I bet the 7 to win/place/show and then key the 7 over/under all the rest in the “Experiment of the Day.”

8th: 4-8-2-1…Steel Shot (4) is a horse I have touted and bet before. And, he has put up three straight strong performances – what with a win and two seconds, the last coming in the Sugar Bowl Stakes here in December. Big shot in here today. Trappezoid (8) is another one that I have supported in the past. This one was eliminated in the last race back in October at Keeneland. Checked hard at the 5/16ths in that one, and lost all momentum. Gets a rider switch to one of the meet’s top riders, and gets in 4 pounds lighter than the last try, too. Supreme Aura (2) and Royal Reality (1) both have an outside shot in here. I bet the 4 to win/place/show and then box the 4-8 solidly in one exacta. I key the 4-8 over the 2-1 in a third.

9th: 8-11-6-3-1-4-5…This is a turf sprint for LA-breds only, and I land on top with Al Stall’s gelding Philly (8). This one has run in three State-bred stakes events in the last four tries and now plummets the class ladder to $15,000-claiming. Gets to the grass for the first time today, and the blinkers come off after a poor run in them the last time out. I see this one waking up today with the changes in altitude. Salute the C (11) is a MTO entry, and has to be considered if it comes off the grass, as does the preferred choice. I bet the 8 to win/place/show and then key the 8 over/under all the rest of the numbers listed.

Good Luck &

All the Best/Gene