We are back to racing after a short break this week. Here is a closer look at today’s card at the Fair Grounds:

1st: 1-2-4-3…Esperanza Diamond (1) gets a huge rider switch over to Corey Lanerie after running second on debut here Dec. 30. Has come back to work very well of late, and the trainer hits with .25% of those making the second career start. Winner of the last race has already come back to win, too. All adding up to a good day. Mi Copa Rebosa (2) will lose the blinkers today for a trainer that scores with .14% of those making that equipment change. This one can press the pace early, and did have a nice work here on Feb. 2. Gets back to the turf today, and she did run very well over this surface here on Feb. 18 a year ago. Can’t dismiss. Star Gaze (4) will get the saddle today from trainer Al Stall, Jr., who is winning at a .21% clip here this meet. Will move over to the grass today after two third place finishes to start the career. Came running in both of those tries, but this one should like the surface switch for sure. The dam has 1 winner from 3 previous starters and has 1 turf winner. Nice work here on Feb. 16. I bet the 1 to win/place/show and then box the top 3 numbers in the exacta.

2nd: 6-1-7-8-4…The top two numbers here look to me like the standouts in this field. Very Elegant (6) is 8-5 ML odds, and may go down from there. This 5YO mare has hit the board in 8 of the last 9 starts — with two wins mixed in that grouping. The beaten favorite in the last, when she pressed the pace from the get-go. Gets a return visit from the rider, and looks pretty salty in this spot, with the considerable class drop. Trainer hits with .27% of those making this big of a plunge. Red Hot Cherry (1) ran second at this same level here on Jan. 5. Picks up a huge rider switch over to Lanerie after two seconds in a row. Trainer scores with .21% of those returning to the races after losing as the favorite. This one fits that bill. Native Wahoo (7) is a LA-bred and will move over to face open company today. Ran good two back against these types and was claimed out of that one by the present connections. Will get the blinkers today, and that’s an equipment change that this barn has utilized well in the past. New rider aboard today. I bet the 6-1 across the board and then box those two solidly in one exacta, and then key the 6-1 over/under all the numbers in two more.

3rd: 1-3-5-8-2-4…She Loves Leather (1) gets a huge class drop for this encounter, and the trainer does well when he pulls the plug (.38% win with this big a drop in 8 other situations). Trainer also excels on the surface switch (.21%) and a nice work move here on Feb. 10. Looks promising today. My Silver Oaks (3) will gets a huge class drop for this one, too. This trainer hits with .25% out of the last 69 horses to drop this much. Jockey has teamed up to win with this barn before, and nice training session here on Feb. 14. Lunar (5) is yet another who will be getting a big class drop today. Trainer scores with .27% of these kind, and the shift back to the dirt is sure to help this 3YO Orb filly. This one may shake off the cobwebs today. I bet the 1 to win/place/show and then box the top 3 numbers in one exacta and then key the 1 over/under all the numbers in two more.

4th: 8-4-5-2-7-6-10…A turf race going a mile and this one could light up the scoreboard today, in what appears to be a wide-open affair. I turn to Tapnfire (8), who just so happens to be 8-1 in the ML odds. This 8YO daughter of Pleasant Tap is trained by my ole’ friend Louie Rousel, who has always excelled with the turf types. This gal has not made the gate in the afternoon in 13 months, but looks to be training well, especially with the tune-up here on Feb. 16. The dam has 5 turf winners already, and this gal could light up the board with a return to form today. Sage’s Epiphany (4) has hit the board in 9 of the last 10 tries, with a couple of victories mixed in there. She is a deep closer and will need some racing luck to find the right spot to utilize late, but obviously is consistent and talented. Negev (5) is skipping over to New Orleans today for a top conditioner, who had her prepping over at Tampa Bay Downs this winter. She won 2 in a row over at the Bay, and has won three of her last four races. Can’t dismiss this one — at 10-1 odds. Like it. I bet the 8-5 to win/place/show and then box the top 3 in one exacta. I key the top 3 numbers over the rest in another smaller version.

5th: 4-9-5-7…Cumber (4) ran a game second at this same level the last time out here on Feb. 2. That was this one’s first start in 5 months, and he just may have needed that race to tightened up a bit more. Comes from a top barn, who hits with .23% of those at the maiden-claiming level. The one to beat. Mischievous Dancer (9) gets a huge drop in class today for his return to afternoon racing. Pressed the pace in each of the previous two encounters against much tougher, and spit the bit. Now, the trainer sheds the blinkers and hopes that the 3YO son of Into Mischief can last a bit longer. Hotnthirsty (5) is another who will experience a huge class drop today. This one will gets the blinkers for the first time, and the trainer does exceedingly well with the move from MSW ranks to MC (.21%). New rider today leads the jockey standings. I bet the 4 to win/place/show and then box the top 3 numbers in the exacta.

6th: 8-11-9-2-3-4-10…Another grass endurance test, and I go to the outside to find my top candidates for this 11/16-mile event. Big E (8) is not named for my son-in-law, but that is exactly what I call the best young man in the world (outside my own son, mind you). So, I had no choice but to like this one, right? Well, little choice. But I do think this son of Eskendereya does have the credentials to capture this one today, with the move back to the grass tops. Gets another class drop and should be ultra tough at this level. The one to beat. Great Kat (11) ran second to Big E two races back and was beaten just a head then. Came right back to win the next time out and nows moves up to face other winners for the first time. A tough condition climb, but this son of Kitten’s Joy looks like he has the talent to tackle this group — especially with the recent form of a win and two close seconds in the last three outs. Goes for the hottest barn/rider combo on the grounds. Going Rate (9) won at the MSW level last November at Churchill Downs. Has not fared well since then, but gets a huge class drop for this one today. Could respond with a better effort at good odds. I bet the 8 to win/place/show and then box the top 3 numbers in one exacta, and then key the 8-11 over/under all the numbers in two more.

7th: 5-8-1-6-7-4…Misleading Lady (5) comes into this one fresh off a nice win at Oaklawn Park — last April. Lots of time off since then, but has been training lights out for the hottest barn on the grounds, and, perhaps, in the country. Picks up Corey Lanerie in the saddle today, and he has won .31% of the last 13 races for this barn. This 6YO mare looks fresh and ready. Beware. Purely a Dream (8) has not been close in each of the last two, and has not seen the starting gate since last May, as well. But this one ran three straight Graded Stakes races before going to the bench, and she won the G3 Bourbonette at Turfy Park last March at odds of nearly 13-1. Training well for the return, and this one popped right out of the box in her first two career races, as well. Love the 10-1 ML odds. Song of Spring (1) nearly pulled off the win at this same level last time out. Lanerie switches ships, but the conditioner goes to his No. 1 rider, and the rail is winning at a .31% clip this entire meet. Take note. My Brisket.com Stat of the Day. The world’s best handicapping intel. Go give it a try. I bet the 5 to win/place/show and then box the top 3 numbers in one exacta, and then key those horses over the rest in a smaller version.

8th: 2-4-1A-3-7-6…A really nice turf sprint event is today’s feature race. Hope it stays on the grass, because it could be a really nice betting event. The leader, in my book, is Delicate Lady (2), who nearly won her last time out here on Jan. 26. Switched to the barn of young Chris Davis after that, and will make her first start for him today. This filly should be tough with a great turf rider staying on board. Just needs a similar trip, since she will be running late. Golden Amber (4) goes for the barn of Brad Cox, who continues to lead the Trainer standings here. Florent Geroux has won with .33% of his last 27 rides for this outfit, and this one will be pushing the pace from the get-go. Will have to be caught. Zipperini (1A) is one of two that will get the saddle for trainer Greg Foley, who is starting to wake up here of late. This gal gets back to the grass today, and that is her preferred surface, it appears. Won four races back at the sprint distance at Churchill Downs and will be closing late in this try, too. Keep an eye out for this one late, and she brings value to the table. I bet the 2-4 to win/place/show and then box the top 3 numbers in one exacta. I key the 2-4 over/under all the numbers listed in two more.

9th: 1A-5-1-3-4…I’m going to hit the entry hard in the finale, hoping that both Yella Wally Gator (1A) and her teammate Pay My Feed Bill (1) can hit the board and I get paid twice. The former ran a nice second at this same level last time out and a similar effort today just may be good enough to get the job done. The latter will be making her second career start and the trainer does well at this level. Both look to be legit in this spot. I bet the 1 to win/place/show and then key the 1 over/under all the numbers listed in the exactas.