A beautiful sunny day in the Blue Grass, and it is time that this March Lion starts turning into the “lamb” that it is supposed to become. After all, April and Keeneland are around the final turn, right?

Here is a closer look at today’s card at the Fair Grounds in beautiful New Orleans:

1st: 3-5-6-2…Charzee Baby (3) comes into this one off three straight seconds and a win, and fires right back at the same level. Trainer is having a solid meet (.22%) and he has teamed up with the rider for a record of 2-1-0 over the last five starts. Winner of the last one has come back to win. Adds up. Jack’s Gray Girl (5) has never been worse than third in three lifetime starts for a solid barn operation. Trainer hits with .28% of those running in the claiming ranks, like this one. Gets the meet’s leading rider — who is trying to hold on to capture this title over these last 13 days. Could give the top one a run for her money with a clean trip. Star Too (6) had a horrible trip in the last one, and lost all chance to score — still only got beat less than 2 lengths. Look at the comment line! “Blocked stretch; stymied.” A cleaner trip puts this one in the hunt. I bet the 3 to win/place/show and then box the top 3 numbers in the exacta.

2nd: 1-6-2-3-8…Heavenly Kingdom (1) is a huge ML favorite (4-5 odds), and gets a huge class drop from $15,000 to $5,000 for the meet’s leading trainer. The rail has been golden the entire meet and hits with .30% at this distance. But is she vulnerable? Could be. She has run 4 of her 5 races on the grass, and the one time she didn’t? She was third, but beaten 91/2 lengths! Looks tough in this spot, and gets a red hot jock for this one. But…Hopeful Joy (6) may be the one to give the top choice a run for her money. This daughter of Kitten’s Joy is also dropping in class at the same levels and off of the turf course to the dirt. This trainer hits with .39% when dropping this far and .21% of those switching surfaces. Before the last two, this filly had a string of three really good races in a row with this rider aboard. Could upset. She Loves Leather (2) ran at this level last time out and was a fast closing fourth. Had some traffic issues that pushed her wide into the stretch. Will need a cleaner trip, but could be a late factor. I bet — in an upset — the 6 to win/place/show and then key the 6 over/under all the numbers listed above.

3rd: (10)-2-9-4-1-3-7…If the #10 draws into the race, then I think you have to factor in this spot — which is absolutely wide open. If not, I go directly to Hideaway Hero (2). This 4YO gelding has hit the board in 5 of 7 lifetime tries, and comes into this one off a rocky trip third. The trainer has won just once in 29 starts this meet (.03%), but has 9 seconds and 5 thirds. May get over the hump in this spot with a veteran rider back aboard. Alittlevodka (9) just may be the gelding to beat in this spot. He has three seconds in a row after a narrow third. Comes right back at the same level for a trainer who has 1 win in 36 starts this meet. Surely looks good in this spot, but will have to use speed early to get a good running position from the post. Flash Harry (4) has not been close at the wire in the last four tries. But if he can duplicate the winning effort he showed at Churchill Downs last September, he figures in this spot at some decent odds. Can’t dismiss. I bet the 2 to win/place/show and then box the top 3 numbers in one exacta, and key the top 3 over the rest of the numbers in another smaller version.

4th: 8-2-6-9…Tom and Ed’s Girl (8) was claimed out of her last race by a trainer that does very well (.29%) on the first start after the purchase. Bobbled at the break in the last start and lost all chance — since she likes to be close to the front of the pack. Look for big improvement out of this one today, and gets my first Best Bet of the Day designation. Putsumdirtonit (2) gets class relief today after a tough row to hoe in the last one down at Delta Downs. Trainer does have a win this meet, although rarely runs here. Picks up a top rider who is trying to overcome the leader in the race for the Jockey’s Title. Watch out. Indian Bayou (6) gets the leading rider for the meet, and the same trainer as the one mentioned just above. This won broke her maiden in the last out and was checked hard in that one on the rail, too. May be OK. I bet the 8 to win/place/show and then key the 8 over/under all the numbers listed above in the exactas.

5th: 7-5-9-8-6-10-2-4…I will be concentrating on the top 4 numbers in my list, led by Miss Mercken (7) — trained by my great friend Buff Bradley. This filly drops from the MSW ranks to MC30 today, and he does very well with that class drop (.17%). This one ran huge two races back at this level and nearly won that day. Faltered against tough in the last one. But if she can find that run of two back, she will be tough — especially considering her work her on March 7. My first Upset Play of the Day. Make It Run (5) goes for the barn of J. Larry Jones, who hits with .11% of those getting the blinkers for the first time. She will be dropping from the MSW ranks to MC for the first time, and he hits with .24% of those kind. She had a really nice work here on March 10, and looks to be ready for her second grass race. She is bred for it, no doubt. Glory Train (9) will get the saddle from a top barn operation in New Orleans, who is having another super meet here (.27% winners). This one gets back n the grass today after being claimed the last time out on Jan. 28. Trainer is solid on the first time after the purchase, and this one has a good work on Feb. 21 to boost her chances. I bet the 7 to win/place/show and then box the top 3 in one exacta. I key the top 3 over the rest in a smaller version.

6th: 9-1-5-10-2-12…I will be focusing on the top two numbers in this sequence. Aurora’s Kid (9) is trained by a solid conditioner in these parts, and comes back to this level off a near miss third. Was way wide in that affair, and gets a new rider today, who has been on board in the past and has a win in 5 starts for this barn this meet. Trainer hits with .28% of those making their second start for the barn. Draxhall Woods (1) should be the PT favorite for a barn that is pushing hard to catch the meet’s top conditioner in the Trainer’s Title race. This 8YO drops a rung after a near-miss fourth in the last. Claimed two back and this trainer hits with .23% on the second start after the purchase. Trainer/Jock have been good together all meet, but they have combined to score a 6-2-2- record in the last 16 efforts. I bet the 9-1 to win/place/show and then box this two solidly. I then key the 9-1 over the rest in a smaller exacta.

7th: (12)-6-9-2-4-1-10…If the #12 draws into the race, I think you have to consider. If not, I go this way: Windy City Girl (6) will get the saddle from long-time friend Louie Roussel. This 3YO filly has just one race under her belt, and she was a fast-closing third in that affair at this same level. Should have learned a lot in that debut run and be better for it today. Drane Fame (9) ran second, tiring late after pushing the pace in her last try. Back at the same level today, and did finish ahead of the preferred choice in that last race. Will have the blinkers now for the third time, but will need to carry that stalking speed further. Nothing But Tom (2) gets one of the top grass rides in the country after sprinting on debut here Feb. 19. Now stretches out for the first time, and the trainer hits with .27% of those making their second grass run. Dam has had two starters, with one winner and one Stakes winner. Was bet well in the debut effort, as pointed out by my good friends over at www.brisnet.com. They provide the best racing info of any publication in the world. I bet the 6 to win/place/show and then box the top 3 numbers in the exacta.

8th: 4-6-9-8-5-7…My attention is on the top four numbers in this list, and, in particular with Thirteen Songs (4). This one ran a good one here on Jan. 26, before tiring late and running second to the nice filly, Golden Domer. Three races back, she lost by a head and that came after breaking her maiden at Indy by nearly 9 lengths. Training well of late (take note of the move here on March 4). I like the huge rider switch to a guy that is really on top of his game right now. My second Best Bet of the Day, at some good odds. Always Enuff (6) and How Sweet It Is (9) both pose a threat in this one, but will have to have their running shoes on today to beat the top choice, in my opinion. I bet the 4 to win/place/show and then key the 4 over/under all the numbers listed.

9th: 1-10-9-8-2-4-6-5…Again, the focus is on to first four numbers. Canny (1) is 5-1 ML and may drift higher in the odds before post time. Gets a top grass rider, and draws the golden rail in a two-turn grass event. This filly should be able to utilize her abundant speed option to carve out a really nice trip. Very nice work here on March 8, and this one has faced some real good ones — like Fault — in the past. Trainer does well with this type of layoff (.19%). Solid choice. Blasted Boss (10) has won two in a row and has hit the board in five of the last six tries. She will be pressing the pace from the far outside, but will have to negotiate a tough trip from there. May be too much to overcome. Nice work on March 8, and the trainer does score with .24% of those that won the last race. Longwing Lily (9) is 8-1 ML, but comes into this one off a nice second to a horse that has already come back to win. Three races back, she ran third to Walkabout, who won a Stakes event at Keeneland. This one has never missed the board in five lifetime starts and would be a blessing at these odds. I bet the 1-9 across the board and then box the top 3 numbers in the exacta. I key the top 3 over the rest in a smaller version.l

10th: 1-10-11-4-8-6…Today’s finale is my last Best Bet. I go to Our Golden Girl (1) — who is trained by Tom Amoss for the top owner Maggi Moss. This one was claimed two starts back and immediately bumped into allowance company on the grass. Now, she gets the class plunge to the basement on the dirt. She figures very strong in this group. I bet the 1 to win/place and then key the 1 over the numbers listed in one exacta and over the “all button” in another.

Good Luck & All the Best/Gene