After a day to thaw out, from Kentucky bluegrass to Cajun crawfish, it is time to get back to racing action today. The Fair Grounds will host its’ “Starlight Racing” card this evening, kicking off the first race at a 6 p.m. ET post. It’s a fun card, with many options, so click on your favorite handicapping pen and let’s get started:

1st: 7-1-2-6-8-10...Alaskan Son (7) comes back at the same level that the 5YO gelding tried last time out, when he ran 4th and behind some others in this field today. Had a rather interesting go of it in that run, though, going 3-wide into both turns and then, ultimately 4-wide into the stretch lane. Gets a new rider today for the barn of Tom Amoss, who hits with .30% of those making their second start under his operation. Joe Bravo now will have the reins, and I expect immediate results. After all, Bravo and Amoss have teamed up to win with .75% of their mounts together over the last 8 tries. My first Best Bet of the Day. Takeoff (1) will be making his first start for the barn of Steve Asmussen today, after being claimed in his last go here in December. He nearly won that day, making the lead late before be passed near the wire. Despite the change of barns, Asmussen sticks with the same rider — a veteran who is off to a bit of a slow start here. This one had a good work here on Jan. 6 and is definitely the horse to beat. Alittlevodka (2) should be named after Tito’s Handmade Vodka (only), but has credentials, as well. Has run twice over this turf surface in December and 4 times lifetime. Comes off a near-miss third and a second and has a record of 1-1-1 in 4 tries. Can’t dismiss and I like the 8-1 ML odds. I bet the 7 to win/place/show and then key the 7 over/under all the numbers listed. Let’s get this party going.

2nd: 2-5-4-6-1…The horse to beat is Stellar Moon(2), who had a world of trouble in her last start — a stakes race here on Dec. 16. She was snatched up in that one and then had to go wide the rest of the way. She will be stretching out, as well, and the trainer scores with .18 of those making the adjustment in distances. This one had a terrific work here on Jan. 13, too. Bravo may win the Daily Double. She’s a Julie (5) gives the Asmussen contingency a solid chance of winning both ends of the first Daily Double, too. She comes into this Optional-Claimer off a considerable layoff, when she ran in the Debutante Stakes at Churchill Downs last June. She rolled into that one off a huge, run-away win at the Downs back in May. High hopes were dashed in the Stakes event, though, when she never fired a lick and ran a disappointing 7th, although well supported at the windows. Has been working very well for the return (look at the drill on Jan. 7), and the trainer hits with .13% on the return and .17% on the first try going a route distance. I think she is game today. Go Google Yourself (4) is a talented filly by Into Mischief, who had a fabulous 2017. This one got a monster in her first try against winners in the last and that horse has already come back to win again. On debut, she ran against Heavenly Love, who won the Alcibiades. Solid resume. I bet the 2 to win/place/show and then box the top 3 numbers in the exacta.

3rd: 3-8-10-2-6-9…Grandma’s Princess (3) gets the addition of blinkers today for a top notch barn operation, who scores with .19% of those getting shades for the first time and with .21% of those making their third start off a layoff — which this one is doing, as well. Ran an improving second in the last, although well-beaten. But drops a couple of levels for this try and that should assist in the effort. Meadow Gem (8) is another one dropping a couple of rungs down the claiming ladder today. Trainer is having a good meet and this barn hits with .46% of those making this type of class drop. Wow. Tessa’s Treat (10) goes for a barn who has 4 wins in the first 12 tries this meet, and this one has three seconds in the last four races. Knocking on the door. Jockey is having a hard time cracking into the circle, but could be a pace factor in here. I bet the 3 to win/place/show and then box the top 3 numbers in the exacta.

4th: 2-1-3-4-8…My Pal Torres (2) gets the nod in this OC for LA-breds only. This 6YO gelding has not been seen in the afternoons since last July, but is training very well for a trainer who is getting to condition this one again after three starts last year with another. Work here on Jan. 6 was eye-opener, and the trainer can get them ready off the bench. This one has hit the board in 16 of 23 lifetime starts and has a record of 2-2-2-2 in 8 starts at the Fair Grounds. Looks ready. Sea Vow (1) will be making his third start off a layoff, and the trainer scores with .14% of these types. Ran huge against open company two back before being switched over to a turf try. Gets back on the dirt today, and that should help, as well. Rider who guided this one to victory two back is back on board. The one to beat. Spring Value (3) is making the third start off a layoff, as well, and this trainer hits with .21% of these kind. Gets a significant class drop for this one today, and could be salty with the right trip. I bet the 2 to win/place/show and then box the top 3 choices in the exacta.

5th: 5-9-7-3-2-1…Ava Atticus (5) goes for a trainer who has only one win in 28 saddle jobs this meet (.04%), but this one is getting a nice drop in class after facing a solid group here on Dec. 16. The place horse that day has returned to win already, and it may be this filly’s turn today. The dam was a winner and has 5 winners from 6 starters. Ready to go. Sacred Storm (9) gets the saddle from my good friend, Neil Howard. Not a nicer guy in the world than Neil. This City Zip filly nearly won last time out here at this level, losing by a dirty nose as the favorite. Gets a top rider back on board and would be no surprise whatsoever. Lady Into Mischief (7) gets the class drop from the Asmussen barn today. Didn’t show much in the same race as the top choice. But this one did cost $170,000 as a 2YO in-training last year and is now for sale for $30,000. I bet the 5 to win/place/show and then box the top two choices solidly. I key the top two over the rest of the numbers in one more.

6th: 5-1-7-4-3…Top Mention (5) gets my selection here, after having nearly won at this same level on Dec. 31. Stalked the lead the entire trip that day, but simply couldn’t get past the winner, despite some rather quick fractions. Was working super quick up to that race and today will be the third try off the layoff — and the trainer hits with .15% of these. Hellofaguy (1) dropped to this level last time out after a considerable layoff. Ran third, but was beaten a solid 10 lengths then. Should be fitter for this one today, and the trainer does well (.23%) on the second try after this long of a sideline. Was the beaten favorite last time out, too, and the trainer scores with .32% of those returning after being bet so heavily. Samargo (7) has a third and a win in the last two and looks to be sharp right now. Low percentage rider returns. May hit the board. I bet the 5-1 across the board and box those two solidly. I key the 5-1 over the rest of the numbers in another exacta.

7th: 3-5-1-2….Regal Dame (3) drops out of the protected class of runners into the claiming ranks for the first time since last August. She ran second then and should benefit from the class drop. Had to face an absolute monster two races back (and that one may be a tough Oaks contender). Gets a move up in riders to the meet’s top jock, and should be ready to motor. Girls Life (5) has put up 2 wins and 2 thirds in her first 8 lifetime starts, and gets a huge class drop for this affair today, coming out of the State-bred Stakes races to the claiming ranks for the very first time. The trainer has a win percentage of .29 with the drop into the claiming group and this one will be stalking from just off the initial pace. Colby Hernandez, who was the leading rider here before being injured, returns today for the ride. Hoping the guy is healthy and happhy once again. Chloe Raven (1) drops into the claimers for the first time today, as well. Started her career with two run-away victories, but appeared to have something go wrong in a turf Stakes race back in September. Came back to run for the first time on Dec. 22, and spit the bit in that one, too, after setting fast early fractions. Cuts back in distance today and should be fitter, if she is OK. I bet the 3 to win/place/show and then box the top 2 solidly. I then key the top 2 over the “all button” in one more smaller version

8th: 2-5-1-9…He’s All Mine (2) has been the beaten favorite in each of his last two tries, and the trainer does well with those that have been previously bet down to such a status (.26% win). This one has been right there in each of the last three tries, and may be able to get the job done today — if he can get a clean trip. Last two were both compromised by traffic issues and wide trips. Cork Arm (5) faltered in his last try, but look at the trip notes. Clipped heels from behind and then way wide. Lucky he didn’t go down from that incident. The three previous runs were all right there and 6 of the previous 7 were close. I have to use. War Letters (1) gets the drop in class today. Won at Evangeline Downs three races back and picks up a solid rider who does well for this barn. I bet the 2 to win/place/show and then key the 2 over/under all the rest of the numbers listed.

9th: 4-1-5-2-7…The nightcap is a MC event for LA-breds only, and I go to Sobriquiet (4), who will be making his career debut. There is one reason only I go here, to be honest. I don’t know yet what this one can or cannot do. The rest of the field, to be honest, I have found wanting. Top rider gets on board for a barn that wins its’ share. My Pal Kay (1) has a couple of thirds at this level, but was well beaten in both of those. The ML favorite and likely PT fav, as well. Custom Ridge (5) has three 4th place finishes in the first 5 tries. Never close — yet — but finds a pretty soft bunch in this spot. I bet the 4 to win/place/show and then box the top 3 choices in a small exacta.

Good Luck & All the Best/Gene