Here is a closer look at today’s card at The Fairgrounds, in one of the world’s best cities — New Orleans:

1st: 5-4-2-1…Neon Sky (5) is a true closer in a small field, and that is always a tougher scenario for these types, due to the fact that there is no apparent speed anywhere else in the race. But, still, this one looks much the best, if you throw out the last one — which came back in February. Gets a new trainer and has been training OK for the return. Tap City Dancer (4) is a first time starter for a trainer that does OK with the debut runners (.12). This one looks to be working the best of the bunch. I Don’t Fly Coach (2) has been out 19 times to date and has 5 show finishes to show for his work. Underneath? I tread lightly here, but go with the 5-4 across the board and then box those two in the exacta and then key those two over the “all button” in a small version.

2nd: 7-6-1A-5…Wine List (7) has gotten a break since August, but is training very well for his return, with a nice breeze here on Nov. 23. Good numbers on the grass and distance and has won over this course, which is a big plus. Trainer knocking on the door so far this meet and gets his #1 rider. The pick. Restless Rambler (6) is 9-5 in the ML, but I think is a vulnerable favorite. This gelded son of Ghostzapper has hit the board in 16 of 19 starts and has 7 wins in 12 starts this year.  But…the last two times on the turf, he has spit the bit at the end and there is plenty of speed in this one to push him early. James and Company (1A) has been on the board in 9 of 12 on the grass and has hit the board in 8 of 10 at this sprint distance. Watch out for this true closer in this spot. I bet the 7 across the board and then box the top 3 numbers in one exacta.

3rd: 3-6-5-4…Create Again (3) will get the saddle from a top trainer in Larry Jones. This one had all kinds of troubles in the last try, and I throw that one out. The previous two were solid efforts and this one gets the drop into the claiming ranks for the first time today. My pick. Rigged (6) goes for a top barn, and despite the quick departure in the debut effort, I think he can make amends today. Gets the class drop out of a Keeneland MSW, which turned out to be too tough. Trainer hits with .20% on maiden second starts. Drena’s Bullet (5) goes first time for a hot trainer here, and has been training very well — as evidenced by the bullet work. Can’t dismiss. I bet the 3 to win/place/show and then box the top 3 numbers in one exacta.

4th: 7-1-3-5-4-6…The Best Bet of the Day, for sure, comes right here in Takeoff (7). This one gets a huge class drop after facing some real tough customers all Fall. Ran a super one two races back and just lost at the end to a horse who has already come back to win. This one ran third in the Lecomte Stakes here back in January, finishing behind Untrapped — who went on to run in the KY Derby and recently won the Oklahoma Derby. For sale today, and that raises a question, but still much the best. Humor (1) and Santa Americana (3) figure to be the best of the rest, but I would not leave out No Boundaries (5), who goes for trainer Louie Roussel. I bet the 7 to win/place and then key over/under all the numbers listed in two exactas.  More on the top side, for sure.

5th: 4-3-1-6-5…I like the top two numbers here considerably more than the rest, and go with Stonewall Boy (4) on top. This one got the blinkers for the first time last out and ran OK.  Should be better with the equipment today for a hot trainer/rider combo.  If he can run anywhere close to the debut effort that he put on in August, this one may be gone today. West of Sabinai (3) comes out of a MSW event at Retama for Texas-breds. A lot of reasons not to like the move up in class to face winners for the first time today, but this one won by 121/4 lengths and the runner-up that day has already come back to win, too. Threw a nice Beyer number and goes for a top trainer. May be tough to get by on the lead. I bet the 4-3 to win/place/show and then box them solidly in one exacta. I key them over the rest in a much smaller version.

6th: 1-4-6-5…Union Way (1) gets the class plunge for a top trainer, who has gotten off to a tepid start here at the meet. Has been facing tougher, and I can toss the race two back which was off the grass.  Yet, the best race to date was the one four back where he was on the main surface. Questionmark, but should get the job done today. Shy (4) gets a nice class drop today, as well, for a trainer/rider combo that hits for .24% of the time together over the past two years. Gets back on the grass today and will be in a nice stalking position for this one. Iquiqu (6) is a French-bred filly who should improve off two runs where she was compromised late. If she can negotiate a clean trip — with a top rider aboard — then she will be very, very tough in here today and sits at 4-1 ML odds. My Upset Play of the Day. I bet the 1-6 to win/place/show and then box the top 3 selections in one exacta and then key the 6 over the “all button” in another.

7th: 3-4-1-6…Another Pinot (3) has had a nice year with 6 top 3 finishes in 8 starts. Just one win in that mix, to date, but gets in a class drop today, and the lowest level when have ever seen her in the last two years. Nice rider switch and appears to have the speed to carve out a nice stalking position. Fee Fi Fo Fo (4) gets the drop, too, and comes in off a nice work down at Delta Downs for a trainer/rider combo that has hit for 2 wins in 4 tries this year. The one to beat. Minister of War (1) may be able to add some value to the mix. I bet the 3 to win/place/show and then box the top 2 solidly in one exacta and then key those 2 over the other two in a smaller version.

8th: 10-1-8-9-2-5…Flowersforlady (10) has run 3 seconds in 7 starts here at The Fairgrounds, but may get over the hump in this spot today. Drops into the lowest level ever (that I can see) and should like the 1 mile distance, where she is a solid 2-4-1 record in 11 starts. Huge rider change today, too. Big Game Baby (1) tried Stakes company in her last and that didn’t go too well. If this deep closer can get motivated like she did two races back, then she will come running at the end. Spartanburg (8) is solid and picks up a nice rider. Can’t dismiss here. I bet the 10 to win/place/show and then box the top 3 numbers in one exacta and then key those 3 over the rest of the numbers listed in a smaller version.

9th: 6-1-4-2-5…Hero’s Divide (6) is a stalker, who may get the first jump on the rest when the real running begins. Fits at this level and has been good all year. Will try this surface for the first time today, but goes for a top barn. Ide Be a Classic (1) had hit the board in 6 of the previous 7 races before disappointing as the favorite in the last try. Got a break after that one, and looks to be training very well for the return (note the Nov. 3 move here). The one to beat. Beauty’s Pioneer (4) gets a class drop into the lowest level and was tough here back in March. Has a record of 2-2-2 in 10 starts here. I bet the 6 to win/place/show and then box the top 3 numbers in the exacta.

Good Luck &

All the Best/Gene