It’s another Saturday journey on the “Road to Kentucky Derby,” what with the $900,000 Rebel Stakes at Oaklawn Park and the Jeff Ruby Steaks at Turfway Park. And, to spice up the weekend is another great card at the Fair Grounds in New Orleans. Here’s a closer look at all the top action:

Fair Grounds:

1st: 5-4-2…Malibu Song (5) is the 4-5 ML favorite for this Maiden Claiming event, and she looks like she should be a lower price than that. The odds of this one being claimed, on the other hand, is very high. The daughter of Power Broker is a homebred for Gary and Mary West, and trained by HOF Steve Asmussen. To date, she has run two seconds and been beaten a total of less than 2 lengths for both of them. Ran good in the slop in her last out, and there is rain in the forecast. Top rider gets the reins. Definitely the one to beat. Ravish (4) is a filly that we played her last time out, which was her 2018 debut. Has come back to work OK after a rather dull effort in that one, when equipped with the blinkers for the first time. Goes for a top barn and get another class drop today after that one. If the plunge helps, she could be competitive with the top choice. Other than that? Not much to get real excited about. I bet the 5-4 to win/place and then box in the exacta.

2nd: 1-7-4-3-2…Blue Wings (1) gets a huge class drop from the barn of Joe Sharp, who is chasing hard to catch Brad Cox in the race for this meet’s Trainer’s Championship. This guy ran pretty well in a Stakes even here two back and was even better than that in the race three back. Barn’s top rider gets back on board today after a misfire in the last. Rail is winning at .25%. Hotfoot (7) will move to the dirt after two straight 5ths while sprinting on the sod. Trainer does OK with the surface switch (.15%), and does OK with class droppers, as well. Rider can hustle one home. Demands Attention (4) won the last race on the dirt by a nose, and comes right back at the same level after losing that condition. Will face tougher today, but is doing good right now. I bet the 1 to win/place/show and then key the 1 over/under all the numbers listed in the exactas.

3rd: 10-1-9-8-6-4…Silla Manila (10) draws the far outside in a turf sprint, which is not the idea starting spot. This one comes from behind, though, and should drop over and look for an opening late. Trainer uses this jockey often, but they have not had much success — with 0-for-6 this meet. This one has not been out since last September, but trainer can prep up to a race. Sirenusa (1) is a first time starter for the barn of Joe Sharp. Has been working very nicely for the debut, and the trainer has won with .13% of those making the inaugural appearance in the last 152 racers. This one is a daughter of Tiznow and break to be OK. The Jockey has put up a record of 5-3-2 for this barn over the last 14 days. Avoree Noel (9) ran out of gas late in the lat one, which was her first time sprinting on the grass. If she benefits from that one, she could be OK today. I bet the 10 to win/place/show and then box the top 3 choices in one exacta, and then key the to 3 over the rest in another smaller version.

4th: 3-6-7-2-5-4-1…Daria’s Angel (3) has hit the board in each of the last two against much tougher foes. Gets the drop into the claiming ranks for the first time today, and the trainer scores with .27% of those types. Ran fourth to Farrell in the FG Oaks last year, and has hit head with some good ones in the past. Should be tough in this spot, with the blinkers and Lasix that was added just two starts ago. The pick. Little Mizzy (6) and Ashy Taty (7) both have solid credentials in this spot, too. The former will be dropping into the claiming ranks for the first time, but does have some back class. The latter ran two solid races in row before getting hammered in her last. Now, gets back to the dirt and easier company. I bet the 3 to win/place/show and then key the 3 over/under all the numbers listed.

5th: 11-9-4-3-5-8-7-10-1…Taylor’s Princess (11) is stuck way wide for this turf sprint, and her stalking style is likely to leaver her parked outside of many in this run. If the new rider (since jockey Miguel Mena is injured and will not be able to ride) can negotiate a clean trip and not go extremely wide, then she has a shot. But she is vulnerable for that reason. Perfection Cat (9) is another one that is likely to get a wide trip, but she should be ready to go after a layoff since November. The work here on Feb. 20 was a good one, and trainer Steve Asmussen goes to a hot rider. May be tough at this level, with a 1-for-1 record on the grass. Smart Response (4) comes into this one off an easy and impressive MSW win on debut. Work here on March 10 indicates that she is really good. This one cost $525,000 last May. Long way to go to retrieve some of that cash. I will bet the 11-4 to win/place/show and then box the 11-9-4 in one box and then key the 11-9-4 over and under the 3 in another one.

6th: 4-6-7-1…Moonlit Garden (4) comes into this one with two seconds and two thirds in the last four outs, and will get a huge rider switch to Joe Bravo for this one. The stretch out in distance could help this one, too. She has hit the board in 7 of 11 starts to date, but still looking for that elusive #1 win. I’ve Got Grace (6) is 6-1 ML  odds and could score today and even higher odds by post time. She has run two 4ths in three starts and has not started since last August. But this one is training very well for Dallas Stewart, who can prep them off the bench. Bixby Lou (7) was claimed out of the last one and moves up in class today for a trainer that is a perfect 3-for-3 on the first try after the purchase. Has trained very well for this one — look at Feb. 23 work. Gets the outside post, but could use her early speed to clear this group and set sail. I bet the 4 to win/place/show and then key the 4 over/under the numbers listed.

7th: 8-11-1-3-7-6-2…Repeat Repeat (8) has won two in a row and goes for a good trainer/rider combo. Trainer hits with .20% of those who won their last race, and this one has hit the board in each of the last five races. Look for another good performance today. Westwood’s Wizard (11) has won two in a row, as well. Will be making her first start East of the Mississippi today. Before, he has raced exclusively on the West Coast. Gets a new trainer for the first time, and he hits with .36% of newbies to the barn. If he is ready off the bench, look out. Patriot Drive (1) won the last time out by over 6. Moves up in class for this one and loses his jockey. But this trainer has hit with .12% with the new rider over 316 starts. Will be closing late. I bet the 8 to win/place/show and then box the top 3 choices in one exacta, and then key the 8 over/under all the numbers listed in two other exactas.

8th: 7-8-6-9-3-2-1…No Funny Biz (7) goes for a trainer who wins .30% with sprinters. Claimed this one last out in January, and now bumps up a class level. Trainer hits with .27% of those making the debut for the new barn. Had a very nice work here on March 1. Adds up to good performance today. Indian Lover (8) is 12-1 ML odds, and may be a nice surprise for the combo of trainer J. Larry Jones and rider Joe Bravo. They have hit with 2 of 8 this meet, and this colt is training lights out for this one. Look at the work on March 11. Worth a shot. Control Stake (6) has hit the board in four of the last 5 tries. Been facing tougher and will be pressing the pace from the get-go. If he can sustain his run, he could be tough at the wire at this distance — where he has a record of 4-4-4 in 15 lifetime starts. I bet the 7 to win/place/show and then box the top 3 in one exacta. I key the top 3 over the rest in a smaller version.

9th: 2-1-6-9-7-8-10…The Red Camera Stakes…A 1-mile turf event for Louisiana-bred only, and the class of the division looks to be Inveniam Viam (2), who goes for the barn of Brad Cox. This 6YO mare is mighty tough when facing only state-bred. Three and four races back, she dominated with late, closing rush runs. Gets her normal rider up again today, and with a clean run, she will be tough to hold off late. Viva Vegas (1) is another who has been facing opening company. In fact, I don’t know if this daughter of The Factor has ever been in restricted company. She does stalk the lead well, and has a win in three tries at the distance. Shps in from Tampa Bay for this one. Mr. Al’s Gal (6) has hit the board on 9 of the last 10 occasions, with 7 wins in that group. Should be fitter in her second time off a layoff and the trainer does very well in Non-Graded Stakes events (.43%). Solid contender. I bet the 2-6 across the board and then box the top 3 in one exacta. I key the 2-6 over all the numbers listed in another.

10th: 8-6-4-1-7-9-2-3…A wide open LA-bred Optional-Claimer closes out today’s card and it is a wide open affair. I finally land on Snapper Bite (8), who was claimed after winning the last one. He has gotten back on a roll in the last two, after falling off form. Was good here last March, too, when he had three wins in a row. Has a nice record of 4-1-1 in 8 starts at this racetrack. Will be the one to beat. Double Barrel Man (6) ran second in the last effort after running third two back. Looks to be getting better and better and should be tough at this level. Was the beaten favorite in the last out, and the trainer scores with .20% of those returning from that status. Jake the Band Man (4) returns to the dirt after a near-miss in a turf sprint. Drops in class for this one and should be very tough at odds of 12-1. He has a record of 2-1-1 in five starts at the Fair Grounds. I bet the 8 to win/place/show and box the top 3 in one exacta. I key the top 3 picks over the rest in a smaller version.

Rebel Stakes at Oaklawn Park:

Solomini (3) will be making his 2018 debut for trainer Bob Baffert. This guy is super talented and is working very well for the best conditioner in the game. Maybe, in the history of the game. Baffert only ships when he thinks his horses are ready, and this one appears to be ready and sitting on go. Sporting Chance (7) won the Hopeful Stakes at Saratoga last year, and ran a huge one off that layoff in the G3 Southwest Stakes here for this 2018 debut. Looked to be bothered in the late stretch in that one, but it could have been his quirky nature, too. If he improves off that effort, he could run a game one today. Combatant (10) has run three seconds in a row for the barn of Steve Asmussen. He will be asked for more today. Does he have that gear? I have suspicions. High North (8) is a horse that ran fourth in the Kentucky Jockey Club at Churchill Downs last November, and that race has turned into a great prep for this year’s “Road to the Kentucky Derby.” This guy should improve immensely off his last run and could provide real value to the gimmicks in this spot. I bet the 3-8 to win/place and then key the 3-8 over/under all the numbers listed. I also box the 3-8 strong in another exacta.

Jeff Ruby Steaks (yep, that’s spelled right) at Turfway Park:

Hazit (7) is a solid choice in this one, despite the fact that this race normally has a super long shot in the mix. Hazit, trained by Todd Pletcher, will have Drayden Van Dyke — a regular on the West Coast — in the saddle. And, this War Front colt beat Good Magic — the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile winner — in a MSW event at Saratoga on Travers’ Day last year. He should be tough to beat, if the takes to the plastic track today. Cash Call Kitten (2) will be the one that Mike Maker saddles in hopes of giving him three straight wins in this event. Tyler Gaffalione — a top jock in Florida — comes in for the mount. And, Kitten’s Joy has daughters and sons that have performed well over the poly track in the past. I can’t dismiss. Dreamer’s Point (9) is a colt who is trained by good friend and top horseman Ian Wilkes. His son-in-law, Chris Landeros, comes in for the mount. They are super good together, and I can never rule them out. Archaggelos (3) is another “price horse” that I will use in my mix. I bet the 7 to win/place/show and then key the 7 over/under the horses I mention. I also will box the 7-2-9 in a smaller version.

Good Luck & All the Best/Gene