Today kicks off another exciting weekend of racing at The Fair Grounds in New Orleans. Spicing up today’s card is a big carryover (over $106,652) in the Black Gold Pick 5 Jackpot.  Take a swing for the fences today, and you might just get an early Christmas present. Here is a closer look at our selections today:

1st: 3-1-8-5…White Oak Swamp (3) gets a slight drop in class and gets the benefit of the glasses for the first time, as well. This 5YO mare could benefit greatly from a little sharpening that the new equipment might provide and the trainer does well with the addition (.18%). Came running in the last and gets a nice rider switch for today. Starship Journey (1) has been running up East at Presque Isle since summer and will get her first trip over the Fair Grounds dirt today. She has speed to burn and should be motoring from the gate with the rail post. The inside has been golden all meet. Diva’s Ransom (8) gets a considerable drop in class and with anything close to her race three back, when she won at Evangeline Downs, she will be tough in this spot with a new rider aboard today. I bet the 3 to win/place/show and then box the top 3 numbers in the exacta.

2nd: 5-9-4-7-3-2-1…Wide open turf sprint, but I land on Whiskey Bravo (5), who was claimed in the last race. Trainer is 0-for-10 with newbies to the barn, but this 7YO gelding gets a top rider today and gets back to the turf — where he has won 12 times already. A true closer should be getting to them late with a clean run. Fleetway (9) gets hung a bit wide, and that’s not a good thing. But he shortens back up and gets to the grass once again — where he has hit the board in 7 of 12 lifetime tries. Has speed and will try to take them wire-to-wire. Bluegrass Bronco (4) gets a huge rider move to Corey Lanerie and they are likely to stalk the early pace and get first jump at the top of the stretch. Nice training move here on Nov. 17. Can’t dismiss. I bet the 5 to win/place/show and then box the top 3 numbers in one exacta and then key those 3 over the rest in another.

3rd: 1-7-6-2-3…Grace’s Bandit (1) catches the golden rail for this route race for Louisiana-breds only. Close with a nice run here on Dec. 1 to just get beat and any improvement today makes this one very tough. Looks sharp in the mornings, too. Shedrow Cocktails (7) has speed and picks up the meet’s leading rider in Colby Hernandez for today’s try. Has been over this dirt track once and got a win here back in April — drawing off by 41/2 lengths. Could impress again today. Kayne’spotofgold (6) has shown speed in the past, but tried a different tactic when running here on Dec. 1 — against the top choice. Finished OK then, but don’t know what to expect today with the same rider aboard. Got the blinkers in the last try, so that may explain the different race performa? I bet the 1 to win/place/show and then box the top 3 numbers in the exacta.

4th: 2B-1-8-3-2…Keep an eye out to see if the 1A draws into this spot. Have to use if she does. If not, I go to St. Louis City (2B), the better part of the Scott Becker entry, in my opinion. This 8YO mare is a bit long in the tooth, but she comes in with two wins in a row and looks sharp as can be. Throw out the race three back been moved off the grass, and this one has hit the board in 8 of the previous 9. My choice here. Sage’s Epiphany (1) will get the saddle from Karl Broberg, who is off to a bit of a cool beginning to the meet. This filly has been right there the last three outs, though, and will be closing with a flourish if given a clean trip. Gets the meet’s top rider back aboard. Look out here. Yooou Den (8) is a horse I used in her last try here on Nov. 23. She came running then and just lost at the wire, to the preferred choice. Hot rider gets back up. The trainer/jock combo has hit with .44% out of 16 starters. Look out here, as well. I bet the 2B to win/place/show and then box the top 3 numbers in one exacta and then key the top 3 over the others in a smaller version.

5th: 1A-3C-3-2-8…Broberg has entered a pair here, but has named Colby Hernandez on both. If he keeps the 1A in the race, then I go here. This 5YO gelding won the last time out at Retama Park in Texas, and has trained well there since that win. Looks to be good right now off the last four races. Classic Salsa (3C) gets the saddle from Joe Sharp, who is off to a fantastic start here, with 7 wins in the first 28 mounts. This one had all kinds of trouble in the last out, and drops a notch today. Should be closer to the pace with a cleaner break. His stablemate, Pea Shooter Pro (3), has a big chance in this spot, too. Claimed last time out, this true closer will be churning in the lane. Has hit the board in 17 of 22 lifetime tries at this distance. I bet the 3 (take note) across the board — hoping to land both in the money. I then box the 1-3-2 in the exacta.

6th: 6-8-9-3-10…Golden Amber (6) has hit the board in 5 of the first 7 tries, and may find the winner’s circle today for trainer Brad Cox and rider Shaun Bridgmohan — who have teamed up to win at a .30% clip at the Fair Grounds over the past two years. I throw out the last try at Churchill Downs, when she was a well-beaten favorite. Burned up early in that try going the first quarter in :214/5.  Gets the rider switch back to the guy who just missed with her three starts back at Ellis Park. Graduation day today? Feelin Foxie (8) goes for the barn of Tom Proctor, who has 4 second place finishes in 4 starts here this meet. This one has been stalking, but not closing. Today may be the day at some nice odds. Mix and Mingle (9) is a first timer for trainer Michael Stidham, who is off to another great start here in the Big Easy. He also hits with .20% of debut runners, and this one is training quite nicely in the a.m. I bet the 6 to win/place/show and then box the top 3 numbers in the exacta.

7th: 7-3-4-6-1…Sheer Mayhem (7) is my Best Bet of the Day, despite the low odds. If I can catch even money, I will be happy. This daughter of Into Mischief cost a hefty $175,000 as a 2YO last year and looked to be a real good one when winning by 73/4 lengths on debut in March. Came right back to try Stakes company in the next and spit the bit midway through that 11/16-mile event. Has not been seen in the afternoons since that May try, but is training lights out again for a trainer who can get them fit and ready off the bench. I think this one will be mighty tough in this spot today. I bet the 7 to win/place and then key over all the numbers in a good way and then key under them in a smaller version.

8th: 2-7-10-3-5…Keep an eye out to see if the 12 draws in from the AE.  Hate the outside post, but he could be a prime contender. If not, I go to Disinclined (2), who I think will improve mightily for this try today for trainer Danny Pish. He was stuck in the 11-hole here on Nov. 26 and had no shot, especially after being jostled about throughout much of the turn. Gets one of the meet’s top riders today, and, more importantly, a huge advantage on the draw inside. Love the 5-1 ML odds after being bet down to the favorite status in the last. I expect this Texas-bred to be closer to the pace for sure in this try today. My Upset Pick of the Day. Itsthebourbontalkn (7) has never won over the grass yet, but has 2 seconds and a third in 7 tries. Likes this grass, apparently, with a second and a third in three efforts here. Will be stalking the pace and could fall under the preferred choice at a price. Roar of the Lion (10), unfortunately, gets the outside position again. Broke from the 12-hole here on Nov. 26 and now lands the 10.  That’s a tough spot to rally from, but this one should be closing late. Might get up in time to capture part of the coin. I bet the 2 to win/place/show and then box the top 3 in one exacta and then key the top 3 over the rest in a smaller version.

9th: 1-11-5-2…Folsom Hanover (1) won on debut at Presque Isle in September, but spit the bit early when facing winners for the first time on her next start. Didn’t make the races until she was 6 years old? But she might be tough facing only LA-breds today. Like the 8-1 ML odds. Ms Brown Gravy (11) is hung wide, which is not good, but has shown speed in the past that may be good enough to test these today. I toss the last two (mud in one and tired in the last after speeding out to a quick lead). Maybe the third off the layoff is the ticket? Little Miss Rebel (5) is 6-1 ML and gets a nice rider switch. Just missed at this level in September at Louisiana Downs. I bet the 1 to win/place/show and then box the top 3 in the exacta. I tread lightly in the closer.

Good Luck &

All the Best/Gene