It’s getting closer to launch time for the guy in the red silks. Don’t know if the jolly, ole’ guy can make weight, but he will be riding the favorite in 3 nights. Might want to keep an eye out for the world’s top jockey. Until then, let’s get some late Christmas money today, shall we? Here is a closer look at today’s card at The Fair Grounds:

1st: 7-6-3-2…Gentlemen’s Girl (7) gets the top pick for both me and (the world’s top provider of detailed racing information and past performances). This 3YO, LA-bred filly was off from July 26 to Nov. 21 and zipped to the lead in the return. Tired late in that one, but should benefit from that exercise and the considerable drop in class today. Gets a new rider, who is having a solid meet to date. K K’s Princess (6) drops from a MSW event into the MC15 level. Trainer has hit with 60% of these droppers out of 5 to do so. Could improve over a faster track. Charzee Baby (3) gets a drop today, and had a solid work here on Dec. 14. I bet the 7 to win/place/show and then key the 7 over/under all the numbers listed in the exactas.

2nd: 5-7-2-6…Vittorioso (5) is a Scat Daddy colt who gets the drop into the claiming ranks for the first time. Top notch trainer hits with .19% of these droppers, and this one should improve off a wide trip in the last against much tougher. This one has two wins at the distance and one over this track. Like the ML odds of 6-1 here. My Upset Pick of the Day. Fee Do (7) has tried Stakes company in the last two, but now drops into the claiming ranks again today. Trainer hits with .29% when he has horses in the claiming ranks, and this one has won half of his 8 career starts. Silent Drifter (2) gets in at ML odds of 6-1, as well, and could run much better than that. Nearly won his last time out at Louisiana Downs against allowance company. Picks up a huge rider switch and trained very well over this track on Dec. 14. I bet the 5 to win/place/show and then key the 5 over/under all the rest of the numbers listed.

3rd: 6-7-4-2…Foxy Miss (6) has hit the board in 8 of 14 lifetime starts and has two seconds and a third in 5 starts over this track. Was way wide in the last on Nov. 30, which was her first try since Aug. 9. Comes right back for a trainer that hits with .17% on second starts off a layoff and this one is the best bred horse in the race. Like her chances in this grouping and worth a claim slip today. Tom and Ed’s Girl (7) picks up the meet’s leading rider for the first time since they hooked up to win at Evangeline on June 29. Trained well in early November and has run two tough ones since. Gets the drop today for a trainer who has a record of 3-4-1 in just 15 starts this meet. Watch out. I use Untethered Soul (4) and Runningdowndreams in this mix, as well. I bet the 6 to win/place/show and then box the 6-7-4 in one exacta, and then box the 6-7-2 in a smaller version. Hope the 6-7 run one, two.

4th: 8-6-7-2-4…Keep an eye on the Main Track Only horses if this one is moved off the turf. If it stays on the green, I go with Back Page Star (8) in this one, despite the poor post position. This one has hit the board in the last six tries, with four wins in that mix. Came back from a short freshener to run a tough-luck second here on Nov. 30. Super nice work here on Dec. 16. Queenofthepalace (6) was my pick here on Nov. 30, and she ran off to a 2-length win that day for trainer Brad Cox and rider Florent Geroux. They have been made the 9-5 favorite for this on, and there’s no reason to believe that they won’t run another big effort today. Trainer hits with .45% of repeat winners in the claiming ranks. Onemorefastdance (7) ran third to the top two picks on Nov. 30. The race before, though, she won at Retama Park over in Texas. Can’t totally dismiss. I bet the 8 to turn the tables on the 6 today and cover here with a bet to win/place/show. I then box the top 2 solidly. I key the top 2 picks over the rest in a much smaller version in case of a split job.

5th: 3-5-8-4-2…Gentle Commitment (3) is 8-5 ML favorite, and figures to be the one to beat in here, for sure. In 7 career starts to date, this Texas-bred has hit the board on 6 occasions. May be able to make it back to the winner’s circle again against this company if he gets just a bit of a better trip today, after going wide in the last. The first Best Bet of the Day against rather weak opposition. Red Again (5) broke his maiden by 81/4 lengths in the last try. Will catch winners for the first time today, but looks like he has a chance to repeat with a similar effort. Sandlot Sam (8) broke his maiden as a 7YO in his last try. That says it best about this grouping. I bet the 3 to win/place/show and then key the 3 over/under the “all button.”

6th: 3-4-7-8-9-1A…Keep an eye out to see if this one is moved off the grass, as well. If not, then I go to Italian Charm (3) for the hot trainer/rider team of Joe Sharp and Adam Beschizza — who have teamed up to win .34% of their 29 mounts together over the last 60 days. Ran a solid one against the fine grass expert Sir Dudley Diggs three races back. This stalker should figure out a good spot early on and then have the first jump on the late runners. Good work here on Dec. 14 after the last race win. Looks very Sharp, pun intended. Crescent Drive (4) gets a nice drop in class for this encounter from trainer Tom Amoss. Was very competitive in the last try against much better. Should be running late under regular rider Miguel Mena, who is off to a hot start here this meet. Broken Key (7) is another stalker/closer type who has been running well of late — what with four finishes on the board in the last 6 tries. Top jockey gets back on board today, and he is starting to heat up here. I bet the 3 to win/place/show and then box the top 3 choices in one exacta and then key those 3 over the rest in a much smaller version.

7th: 5-1-7-4-2…Teletap (5) is my second Best Bet. This son of Tapit, owned by the Winchell Thoroughbreds LLC, has been on my Horses to Watch List all year. He hasn’t made the winner’s circle yet, but has 2 seconds and a third, and has caught some solid runners in the past. Looks to have found a softer group today, and gets the meet’s hottest rider in Joe Bravo (who has a record of 8-6-6 in just 31 mounts). Breaks the maiden today. My Eminence (1) has 5 seconds and 2 thirds in 12 lifetime starts for a trainer who has won just .04% of his 28 starts this year. Last race was very poor, but he had put up six ITM finishes in a row before that. Picks up a solid rider switch today. Such a Tease (7) has a shot, as well, although this one has been the beaten favorite in 3 of the last 4 outs. I bet the 5 to win/place and then key the 5 over/under all the numbers listed.

8th: 2-5-1-8-4…Last Play (2) is very well bred for the grass and should improve for this try today. Ran a late closing second in the last try here on Nov. 26 as the favorite. Trainer hits with .22% with horses coming off a beaten favorite status. Worked solidly here on Dec. 10, and looks ready for today. Marquee Moment (5) just missed here on Nov. 25 after setting all the fractions until the wire. Has 2 seconds and a third in the last 3. Bound to get up soon for this trainer, who hits with .24% of 2YO and MSW entries. Classy Act (1) spit the bit halfway through the last out, but caught a red-hot group of 2YO fillies in that match. Was beaten twice on head bobs before that. Can’t dismiss with a first try on the grass and first time in blinkers. I bet the 2-1 across the board and then box those 2 in one exacta and then key the 2-1 over/under the rest of the numbers in two more.

9th: 9-8-1A-2…Made to Fit (9) gets in with 6-1 ML odds, and I will take a shot in today’s finale. Faced Stakes company two races back and now shows up for $5,000 claiming. Trainer hits with .24% with horses taking this kind of class plunge. Gets a top rider, too. Too Dim (8) goes for Tom Amoss, and you have to respect any and all from this barn. This one nearly got up late in his first try for this barn on Dec. 2. With any improvement at all, he could be tough today. I bet the 9 to win/place/show and then box the top 3 numbers in one exacta and then key the 9 over/under the “all button” in two more — trying to catch a bomb.

Good Luck &

All the Best/Gene