Here’s a closer look at today’s card at the Fair Grounds, on the first day of March:

1st: 3-4-6…Congratulate Me (3) nearly won at this same level back on Feb. 11, leading nearly all the way before tiring late in that one over a sloppy racetrack. That was the first time the 5YO Congrats gelding had ever been dropped that low, and he was immediately put into the race very early. If the same rider can salvage a little more of that speed for the final quarter, they should be able to graduate out of this condition today. Devil’s Teeth (4) is a Minnesota-bred who didn’t hit the board in 8 tries last year and once this year. Gets another drop in class for this one, and could be more competitive if he can work out a better trip. Full Heart (6) has raced 13 times to date over this Fair Grounds dirt track. He has a win and a second, but has 5 more thirds. Should be close at the finish — again. I bet the 3 to win/place/show and then box the top 3 choices in the exactas.

2nd: 5-7-2-8-4…Kid Creole (5) didn’t run a step in the last try, but that was after the rain washed it off the grass and over to a sloppy track. Throw that one out, and this one has been competitive against tougher foes. Trainer is 0-for-8 this meet, but might have found the right spot here. Specialeyes (7) has run up against some tough customers in the last few races. The show horse in the last came right back to win, and the place horse in the race before did the same thing. This one gets another drop today from a fine trainer, and looks to have the speed to be dangerous in this group. Case’s Ticket (2) gets a nice class drop for this one and should be making his run late in the stretch. I bet the 5 to win/place/show and then box the top 3 numbers in the exacta.

3rd: 4-2-6-8…Conquest Mystique (4) was purchased out of the last race for $15,000 and will make his first start for the new connections at a $5,000 claiming level. So what’s up? Well, two things: a) the new connections may not like what they got and are ready to dump right back off at the station; b) or, the new connections are trying to get the lion’s share of a nice $14,000 purse. Either way, this 5YO Kitten’s Joy gelding looks the best in this spot, and was bet down to favoritism in the last before faltering to 5th in an 8-horse race. Should appreciate the class relief, and the new barn/trainer combo have been tough together all meet. The one to beat. Texas Sky (2) gets a class drop for the barn of Steve Asmussen. Nearly won against much tougher back in December at Remington Park. This one held his own against the multiple Stakes-winner McCraken back in 2016. Might be able to rediscover some magic. Solanair (6) has run back to back thirds after pressing the pace in each of the last two tries. Trainer is ice cold, but this one may stick around at the end for a minor award. I bet the 4 to win/place/show and then key the 4 over/under all the numbers listed in the exactas.

4th: 1-5-7-9-10-4…Freddieslilwildcat (1) was a well-beaten second in his last try as the post-time favorite. Now, will get to try the sod for the first time. Trainer does OK with the surface switch (.18%) and really does well with the shorter distance. Guitar King (5) ran much better the two times he tried the turf and gets back on that surface today. The dam is by Irish-bred King of Kings, and that should help some. Worth a shot at a price. C C Harris (7) has been working better for this second career try, and the runner-up in the last race has already come back to win. This one should improve some with the second time out, as well. I bet the 1 to win/place/show and then box the top 3 numbers in one exacta, and then key the top 3 over the rest of the numbers in a smaller version.

5th: 5-8-6-1…Aurora’s Kid (5) was claimed out of the last race for $7,500 and now gets dropped right back in for $5,000. Trainer is super sharp and knows how to win races. This 6YO gelding has a record of 2-3-1 in 10 starts at this distance and does have a third over this track in his only previous start. Could be tough today with a better trip. Wyeth (8) was claimed for $25,000 and now shows up for $5,000. That makes me a little nervous, but if he is anything close to what he has been the last three races — he should dust this group. Tiz a Par (6) will shorten up to a sprint today after two straight route races. Gets a new rider, too, and the winner of the last race has already come back to win again. Can’t dismiss this one. I bet the 5-8 across the board and then box the top 3 numbers in one exacta.

6th: 4-7-5-10-2…Yalisha (4) gets my first “dot” and becomes my first Best Bet of the Day. This 4YO filly has run two solid seconds in a row and should be very tough at this level again today. If she can carve out a good stalking position from the post, then she will have a real chance come wire time. Nola Fashion (7) has hit the board in 10 of 18 lifetime tries, and she should be close to the picture at the end. Has never won over the turf, to date, but does have a couple of seconds in five previous tries. Won’t take much to push her over the top today. Our Golden Girl (5) was claimed out of the last race by a top trainer/owner tandem. They know how to spot their horses and they normally run very well on debut for the new connections. Won’t take much for this one, who was a beaten favorite last time out, to improve enough to make the circle. I bet the 4 to win/place/show and then key the 4 over/under all the numbers listed in the exactas.

7th: 5-2-1-3-4…Devine Mischief (5) had a rough trip on debut, when the rider tussled with her from the get-go and tried to make her rate. Instead, she was rank early and then steadied late. Now, this one gets a new rider — and the top pilot for this barn — and should improve at second asking. Works have been solid. Watch out today. Sweet Arithmetic (2) lost her first race when she missed the break and gave the field 3 to 4 lengths at the start. Still ran on gamely after that, and finished third. A better break today and this one could be tough throughout. Go Metro Girl (1) will make her debut for the barn of Michael Stidham, who scores with .17% of those making their debut. He will put his top rider, Joe Bravo, in the saddle, and they have been very good together this year (.33 win percentage) and over the past two years (.33%). I have to use. I bet the 5 to win/place/show and then key the 5 over/under all the numbers. Make sure to include the #4 in that equation.

8th: 1-3-2-8-6-10-4…War Stroll (1) is listed at 8-1 ML odds, and I would love to get those prices at post time. This guy has a win at the sprint distance and has hit the board in 7 of 15 previous grass starts. Moves from the sand that they call “grass” at Gulfstream Park to a true grass course today, and that should help this son of Stroll. Looks like the worlds have been good and this one is plenty fit enough to close with a win today. Zapperini (3) has been running much longer, but will get his 2018 started today at 51/2 furlongs. Is this a prep race or the real deal? If he is ready to roll, it might be a solid wager at 8-1 odds, too. Restless Rambler (2) has 12 wins, 4 seconds and 3 thirds in his 22 starts. Has hit the board in each of the last 8 tries. Keeps a top rider in Corey Lanerie. All adds up to a contender. I bet the 1 to win/place/show and then box the top 3 numbers in the exacta. I key the top 3 numbers over all the others in a smaller version, as well.

9th: 3-6-5-1-7-4-8…New Colossus (3) has been a horse I have watched train for quite some time, and I have touted strongly before each of his disappointing races. But today should be the day. Picks ups  new rider in Florent Geroux, who has been red hot of late. And, this one truly has excuses for the faulty runs in each of the previous two. In the last, this son of Curlin stood quietly in the gate while a horse on the far outside broke through the gate on at least three occasions. I think he literally fell asleep waiting for the gates to open. Should be ready to roll today, and is my last Best Bet of the Day, and I love the fact that he is 6-1 ML. Late Nite Mischief (6) has posted a third and a second in 4 previous starts. Ran just behind the preferred choice two races back. Should improve with the addition of blinkers today. Graham’s Way (5) is a first timer for the same trainer that will saddle the second choice. Has been training very well for this debut performance, and the trainer does well with first timers (.17%). I bet the 3 to win/place/show and then key the 3 over/under all the numbers listed.

Good Luck & All the Best/Gene