I’m in Florida, having watched our filly, First Kiss, perform admirably on Friday in a MSW event at Tampa Bay Downs. Came out of the race great and can’t wait to see her go again. But had to go buy a sweat shirt, and it looks like the guys over in New Orleans are a little chilly, too.


Maybe some sun can shine bright soon, right?


Here is a look at today’s card at the Fair Grounds:


1st: 3-1-2-4…Rapid Red (3) will get the services of Jersey Joe Bravo, who is having a super meet at the Fair Grounds – and, in particular, on the grass. He has ridden 5 horses for trainer Tom Amoss this meet and they have won with .80% of them. Gets back to the grass today (hopefully) after a race over the slop. Two back, this guy won on the grass and was claimed by this barn. My pick. In the Chamber (1) is the 9-5 ML favorite after a near-miss second in the last out at this same level here on Nov. 30. Was DQ’d from the 2nd spot to 4th in that one and gets a new rider aboard today. This one will shoot right to the front from the rail – which has been golden all meet. Will have to be run down. Broken Key (2) went over a yielding grass course here on Dec. 21 and lost the lead late to finish second at this same level. Likes to sit and stalk the lead and maybe moved just a bit early in the last. Has a solid chance with these. I bet the 3 to win/place/show and then box the top 3 choices in the exacta.


2nd: 4-5-6-7…Brad Cox has been red hot all meet and there’s no reason to see why he should cool off. He sends out Timuquana Place (4) in this tilt with the barn’s top rider, Florent Geroux, up. They have hit with .18% of their last 40, but should heat up that number soon. This one ran second in the last two, but had a very tough trip in the last one. With a better break and cleaner run, she should be tough to handle in this spot. Nonikas Thunder (5) returns to the dirt today and should improve with the surface switch (where the trainer hits with .32% of turf to dirt). This one was claimed three starts back for $75,000 and now gets the drop all the way to $15,000. Fire sale or good spot? I go with good spot. Should be tougher in this role. Taylor’s Wildcat (6) comes right back to this same level race, where she was third last out for a solid barn and gets the meet’s top rider aboard. Jock switch could help. I bet the 4 to win/place/show and then key the 4 over/under all the rest of the numbers.


3rd: 3-2-1-4-6-5…Vinton’s Vin Geaux (3) has a Louisiana name for a Louisiana-bred in a race restricted to those types. This one gets a huge class drop and the trainer does well with these types (.21% on first time claimers). Ran second against much tougher, but that came last August. Trainer does OK with those coming off the bench (.16%). Gets Mena aboard. Lucky Band (2) is another huge class dropper for this one. Won in a MSW event for state breds here last March, but hasn’t been seen since last July. Trainer only scores with .08% with those making a return from this kind of layoff, but he does hit with .22% of those dropping into the claiming ranks for the first time. Should fit here. Runningdowndreams (1) has hit the board in each of the last 3 tries, and 5 of last 6 outs, and will step up in class to challenge these. Good right now. I bet the 3 to win/place/show and then box the top 3 numbers in one exacta.


4th: 4-2-6-7-5-8…Social Misfit (4) drops down from a LA-Bred Stakes event, where he nearly won at Delta Downs on Jan. 6. Lost that heart-stopper by a nose. Gets one of the meet’s leading riders in Shaun Bridgmohan for this one, and that may be the difference. Moves to the grass, where the trainer hits with .16% of surface switchers. But he has raced on it 5 previous times and has run 3rd on 4 of those occasions. Must do better on the sod to beat these. Zarb’s Gift (2) will tackle the LA-breds only on the grass today (hopefully it stays on the turf). If so, this 6YO could be really tough, having just run away with a victory here over the 1 mile distance on Dec. 22. Will lose that condition, though, and face tougher ones. Krafty Boy (6) has a legit chance in this spot for trainer Al Stall and rider Brian Hernandez. Moves to the grass for only the second time in his life, but is bred well enough to consider in this spot. Won two races back against tougher, but that was on the dry dirt. Was a beaten fav in the slop in the last one, and trainer hits with .31% of those coming back off such a fate. I bet the 4 to win/place/show and then box the top 3 numbers in one exacta and then key the top 3 over the rest in another.


5th: 1-3-7-2…Lady Loretta (1) is my top choice in this 6-furlong sprint for LA-breds. This one gets a class drop to a career low purchase price, even though he ran a steady third against much tougher in the last here on Dec. 2. This will be the third race off a layoff, and the trainer does score with .11% of those types. Had a solid work here on Jan. 7 and looks ready with a nice jockey change. Foxy Miss (3) is a LA-bred, but is by KY-based sire Into Mischief, who is one of the best in any land. She made the lead late before tiring right before the wire. Now, she will get her third race back off a considerable layoff and should improve with conditioning. Star Too (7) gets a huge class drop, and a hot-riding, young rider to boot. Won two back against open company up at Laurel and should be a little closer to the pace today. I bet the 3 to win/place/show and then box the top 3 numbers in the exacta.


6th: 5-2-3-1-6-7…Yes Gorgeous (5) tried the LA-bred Stakes company in each of the last two tries, and came up wanting against those foes – despite running a second two back where she was beaten by 16 lengths for the top spot. Gets back to more realistic company in this spot and she may find this group to be much easier to handle. Broke her maiden three back by 15 and has hit the board in five of the last six races. My first Best Bet of the Day, and gets a rider switch to Corey Lanerie for this one. Remember Daisy (2) broke her maiden in style in her career debut here on Dec. 26 for a solid barn operation. Pulled away easily at the end of that tilt to put the comp away. May be tough even with the move up in conditions. Big Gig (3) broke his maiden last time out, but has never been on the grass. Gets that today for a trainer who only wins with .05% of surface switchers. I bet the 5 to win/place/show and then key the 5 over/under all the numbers listed in the exactas.


7th: 1A-1-6-7-11…Both parts of the entry have the same rider (Lanerie) named, so it is a good bet that one of these will be scratched before post time. I tend to like the 1A the better of the two. She had 3 wins and a second in 8 starts in 2017, and despite falling off in the last two (against much tougher competition), she had hit the board in the previous 4 outs with three wins. Elegant Idea (1) ran third here on Dec. 28, faltering at the end of that one. Shortens up a bit today and that should help this pace setter. Breaks from the PP3, but will love being near the rail to inch over. I bet the 1 to win/place/show and then key the 1 over/under all the rest of these named.


8th: 9-1-3-6-7-11…Ryman (9) comes into this one as my Upset Pick of the Day at 6-1 ML odds for the barn of Brad Cox. This one has one previous start, on the dirt, when he broke a bit slowly and then rushed himself up quickly into contention, which is one of the worst race scenarios that can play out. Now, gets the drop in class and had a super work here on Jan. 6. Dam has 4 winners from 10 starters and 3 Turf winners. Should love the surface switch for one of the hottest trainers anywhere. Go for Moonshine (1) will get the saddle from Joe Sharp, who is having a super meet here, as well. Puts up his No. 1 jock, who has hit with .34% of their last 50 mounts together. This one gets the class drop from MSW ranks to MC, and the barn hits with .20% of these types. Good work to prep for this one, too. Take Charge Easy (3) is another class dropper, who could contend with the move to the grass and the class drop. Trainer hits very well with the drop into MC ranks (.24%). I bet the 9 to win/place/show and then key the 9 over/under all the other numbers listed.


9th: 5-9-4-7-8…The day’s finale is a $5,000 claiming event for LA-breds only. I go to Too Dim (5), who comes from the barn of Tom Amoss. This one closed with a rush to win his last at this level the last time out and looks to do it again. Meet’s leading rider is up, and if this guy can manufacture a clear run, he will be tough to handle again. Snapper Bite (9) drops a bit into these ranks for a trainer who hits with .21% on sprints. This guy has 3 wins in 6 starts over this track and looks ready to run. Royal Mocha (4) is another one getting a drop down a nod. Claimed two starts back for this level, when he won. Now back against these types. Have to consider. I bet the 5 to win/place/show and then box the top 3 numbers in one exacta.


Good Luck & All the Best/Gene