Thursday’s Races at the Fair Grounds:

 Racing returns to the Fair Grounds on Thursday afternoon, with a full card of 9 events. There will be plenty of action for everyone, including a large carryover of $138,094.66 in the Black Gold 5. The bet pays out the entire pool if there is a single ticket. The bet will begin in Race 5, and has a scheduled post time of 4:05 p.m ET.

Going into today’s action, we have handicapped 46 races at the Fair Grounds since Jan. 1. We have a record of 10-19-27 for first, second and third, with a win percentage of a less-than desirable .26% and a ITM rate of .41%. On the positive side, though, we have amassed a positive net value of $88.80 based on $1 exacta bets and $2 straight wagers for those picks. If we can begin to increase our win and ITM percentage, then we hope to increase that positive cash flow.

Here is a closer look at today’s full card action:

1st: 2-1-3-6-7…Cash First (2) gets a nice class drop after competing against much tougher for most of 2017 and 2016. This 4YO son of Quality Road returns to the same level that he ran in March of ’17 here. He broke his maiden at this level and then won his next out at the same tag here for back-to-back wins. Hasn’t seen the claiming ranks since then until this Thursday’s card. He won two back at Evangeline Downs, and then ran third against much tougher foes in the last out in August. Trainer doesn’t send out many, but he does just where to put them. Will need to find a hole, as he comes late, but he has a record of 3-1-1 in 7 starts at this distance. My pick. Saved At Sea (1) goes for a top barn/rider combo, who have combined to win at a .20% clip in the last 35 tries. Gets a closs drop for this one after a poor effort in the slop here on Dec. 20. Seems to like a fast track much better. Theoryintopractice (3) is a son of Into Mischief, and this 4YO gelding likes to push the pace. Great work here on Dec. 15 before his first race since August. Ran good on Dec. 23, before tiring late in that one to finish third. Stretches out to a mile today after that sprint specialty, but he had back-to-back wins in May going 7Fs. I bet the 2 to win/place/show and then box the top 3 numbers in one exacta.

2nd: 3-7-2-1-4-5…Nice Turf Sprint affair for the claiming price of $25,000. Wyeth (3) is the 4-5 ML favorite, and coming off a win at a higher tag, it looks like the gelded son of Candy Ride should be a tough beat. Had five really good races here in late December ’16 and early January ’17 – with two wins mixed in that grouping. Looks like he has found his stride again now, and had a super work on Dec. 16 at Evangeline Downs. In just 9 starts on the grass, this one has 4 wins and a third. My pick and my first Best Bet of the Day – if you can get 4-5 odds or better. Aktabantay (7) goes for one of the hottest trainer/jockey duos on the grounds. They have combined to win at .37% of their last 41 mounts together and have a record of 4 wins and 3 seconds in the last 9 starts together here. This one faced much tougher last time out, and gets the claiming price tag of $25,000 for the first time since May 20, 2017. He won that day by a whopping 21/2-lengths and was pulling away at the wire. The pick. Sonoma Crush (2) may surprise this group, at odds of 8-1 ML. She drops back down to a more comfortable level for this one. Last time he saw claimers, he won for $16,000 at Tampa and was purchased. Has trained well this fall and the trainer hits with .17% of those making the debut for this barn. Has a legit shot. I bet the 3 to win/place and then key the 3 over/under all the numbers listed.

3rd: 1-6-5-7…Freddieslilwildcat (1) is a 3YO son of D’Wildcat and will face LA-Breds only in this 1-mile MC25 event. This is a huge class dropper from the MSW ranks and should be salty in this spot. Trainer hits with .21% of those making this kind of class drop and with .24% of those making their first start in the claiming ranks. Trainer/Jock have hit with .21% of their last 14 starts together. Personal Conflict (6) tired late in both of his previous two starts and faces the same class level here. Gets a nice rider switch . Conner Clark (5) and Lucky Inferno (7) both appear to have a shot in this one, too. I bet the 1 to win/place/show and then box the 1-6-5 in one exacta and then box the 1-6-7 in another.

4th: 5-7-4-3-1-2…Bitsy’s Afleet (5) won on debut here Dec. 9, and now will get to face other winners for the first time. Trainer does well with the move into that category (.23%) and is off to a great start here. This 3YO Northern Afleet colt really roared in the stretch after a sluggish beginning in the first time out, when he was heavily supported at the windows. No real to think he can’t duplicate that effort today against LA-Breds only. Cowboy City (7) graduated in his last race, too, but that came against much easier company. He won that day at $26-to-$1 odds. But there is an old saying: “If you didn’t go to the wedding, don’t go to the reception.” Skeptical on this move up. General Tone (4) won easily two races back and then tired late going farther in the last one, against winners. Should improve with the cut back in distance and I think this one is the horse to beat today. So much so, that I make him an Upset Special. I bet the 5-4 across the board; box those two solidly in one exacta and then key those two over all the other numbers in another.

5th: 4-7-5-2-1-3…Tapany (4) gets my top selection mark here, despite running a distant 8th and beating only one horse in the last out – which came way back in May at Belmont Park in New York. Obviously, something happened to this son of Tapit that day in a turf sprint try. Now, after that long layoff, this one will make their debut for my great friend, Buff Bradley – who hits with 10% with those making their debut in his barn. He takes the blinkers off, and looks to repeat the nice work that this one put on full display on New Year’s Eve. This mare looks primed and ready to go. I’m in. My first Best Bet of the Day comes right here, with ML odds of 9-2. Let’s go Buff. Proud Talike (7) is coming off a nice, solid 4th – while bumped around throughout much of that turf spint here on Dec. 14. This one hails from a red hot barn (.26% winners) and gets a jock who has hit with .22% this meet. Can’t dismiss. She’s Plain Jane (5) is one that I touted here on Dec. 3. Ran third that day going much farther. Shortens up for this one – where she ran a closing second, beaten just a neck, two races back. Really nice work here on Christmas Eve. Picks up a solid rider. I bet the 4 to win/place/show and then box the top 3 numbers in one exacta; and then key the 4 over all the numbers in another. Here is my Black Gold 5 Pick: 4-7-5/5-1-2/2/8-4-2-10/8-4-2-11-3. That totals out to a $90 bet for .50-cent wager.

6th: 5-1-2-7-8-3…Brexit (5) goes for one of the best trainers on these grounds (third in the trainer’s standings going into today’s action). Gets a huge class drop for this one, and the conditioner scores with .25% on those making this type of class drop. Had a solid work here on Christmas Eve, and looks to be getting better with each start. Was the beaten favorite in the last try. Something Bird (1) and Sterling Warrior (2) both get the saddle from top trainers, and both look ready to improve on class drops today. I bet the 5 to win/place/show and then box the top 3 numbers in one exacta and then key the top 3 over the other 3 numbers in a smaller version.

7th: 2-9-6-5…Alaskan Son (2) got my tout here on Dec. 22, when he was stuck wide throughout and only managed a 4th place finish behind some good competition that day. Today, this barn goes to Joe Bravo – who is having a superb meet, winning with .28% of his mounts. Before the last try here, this guy raced exclusively on the West Coast. May have needed the last try, too, to set the screws down. I like this one, especially considering that the trainer hits with .43% of those making this type of class plunge. My second Best Bet of the Day comes right here. Roar the Lions (9) missed by a head in this same type of race on Dec. 14 here. Deep closer was the beaten fav that day, and the trainer scores with .33% of those returning to the action after being supported so heavily. This one has hit the board in 4 of the previous 10 tries. And has a second and a third in 3 starts over this track. Beware. I bet the 2 to win/place/show and then key the 2 over/under the numbers listed in two exactas.

8th: 8-4-2-10-3-7-5…Make It Run (8) is a 3YO Creative Cause filly trained by Larry Jones for his friend Brereton C. Jones. This one really woke up the last time out on the sloppy dirt Dec. 17 here. That was the first time she got to stretch her legs out to two turns, and the first time that she had Bravo on her back. Both seemed to help. Now, she gets the same two things and she should be able to find a good spot either on or near the lead, despite the outside post. If she can get a good stalking trip, today may be the graduation day. Nucla (4) comes right back here after being bet down to the prohibitive favorite for her debut run on Dec. 16. Never seemed to run much in that performance, but was wide into both turns. Came back to turn in a super work here on Jan. 5. I have to use this one, even though not likely to get great odds here with the connections. Meg Fitz (2) is 12-1 ML and may tilt the tote board someif she can run to her most recent works. Trainer normally doesn’t fare too well on debut, but the dam has 4 winners from 6 starters and one stakes winner. If this daughter of Tapit is anything like the rest of them, she may be OK. (Thanks to Brisnet for the intel). I bet the 8-4-2 across the board and then box those 3 solidly in one exacta. I then key the 8-4-2 over/under all the numbers in two more smaller ones.

9th: 8-4-2-11-3-4…The same three numbers as the previous race show up for me again in this one. Run to Fame (8) gets the huge class drop from the MSW ranks all the way to MC10. Trainer does well with this type of class plunge. Picks up a top rider switch, and had a good run for awhile in each of the previous 3 tries against tougher foes. Tyler’s Bandit (4) ran second against open company in the last try and nearly pulled off the win. This one gets a solid rider switch. Winners of the previous 3 races have all come back to win, so she has been facing good comp down at Delta Downs. Due Greeley (2) has made 11 starts to date, with 1 second and 3 thirds. Looks like she has a tendency to fade late, but hangs around to see what is happening. Will use underneath, only. I bet the 8 to win/place/show and then box the 8-4 solidly in one exacta and then key the 8-4 over/under all the rest in two smaller versions.

Good Luck &

All the Best/Gene