Let’s get it started…A wonderful weekend of racing at the Fair Grounds, what with the Louisiana Derby — the lynchpin of this year’s meet — scheduled for the historic oval on Saturday. A wonderful, Stakes-filled card is waiting for you and your enjoyment. But let’s take a closer look at today’s 9-race event and see if we can’t get some spending money for Saturday, shall we?

1st: 4-7-2-6-5…Pam’s Meadow (4) gets a class drop today after running third against much tougher in her last outing here on March 9. She actually led late in that one before tiring near the wire. The cut back in distance may help this pace pusher, and the trainer scores with .22% of those returning after becoming a beaten favorite. Jockey/trainer have teamed up for a 2-1-2 record over the last 8. Adds up. A Thousand Tears (7) won her last time out, pulling away as she neared the wire. Comes right back at the same level, but lost that condition before. Trainer hits with .19% repeaters in the claiming game. Nice training session on March 15. One to beat. Penny Coin Toss (2) is a closer in the group. Speed duel early could help this one’s chances immensely. Gets significant class relief after a wide trip last time out, an picks up a new rider for this one. Won two back. I bet the 4 to win/place/show and then box the top 3 numbers.

2nd: 8-7-9-1-3-6-2…Wicked Stride (8) will go for the Joe Sharp team today after being claimed last time out at this level. Nearly won that one, when beaten only a neck at the wire. This one will close late, and will need some racing room. But the winner of the last one has already come back to win. Should be tough here, with three “In The Money” finishes in a row. Twenty Four Seven (7) has not been out since last November, and will get his firs start for a new barn in this one. Trained well here on March 15. Another deep closer will need some racing room. Trainer having a good meet. Big E (9) is the lovable nickname that I gave my son-in-law several years ago. On Monday of this week, he underwent a 12-hour surgery to remove a brain tumor. The big guy came through the surgery in flying colors, and there is no way that I am not betting the horse. Won the last time out on the lead and will pick up a top end rider, even though Florent Geroux departs. Sentimental, my friends. I bet the 8-9 across the board and then box the top 3 numbers. I key the top 3 over the rest in a smaller version.

3rd: 5-7-6-1-3-2…Campioni (5) gets a drop to a level that he raced two and three races back. Very competitive in both of those tries, and nearly won three races back when beaten only a neck. This one returns to the dirt, where he seems to perform much better. Gets a new rider, who has won for this barn this meet, and should be solid at this level. Wild Will (7) set much of the pace and made the lead late in the last one, before tiring badly at the end. Comes right back here and will stretch out to a mile off that sprint try. Has never run this far on the dirt before, so maybe the connections think he can set an easier pace when going long? Desierto (6) gets class relief and falls to a career-low level today. Race two back is good enough to win this one, if he can duplicate. Shortens up and moves to the dirt for the first time in his career. Love it? I bet the 5 to win/place/show and then key the 5 over/under all the numbers listed.

4th: 9-10-4-2-6…M C Squared (9) goes for the barn of Joe Sharp, and, thus, will have the services of jockey Adam Beschizza in the irons. This duo have won with .30% of their tries together over the last 76 mounts. This one won two races ago and had a string of three good finishes in a row. Didn’t fare well on the move up in class last time out, but is back in familiar territory today. Solid work on March 3 and trainer hits with .25% on third try off a layoff. Mr. Tickle (10) goes for leading trainer Brad Cox, who picks up the jockey Florent Geroux. This one ran much better in the higher class company than the preferred choice, and was purchased out of that race by the new connections. This one likes to close, and may have been too close to the pace last time. Look for improvement here. Romeo Lima (4) is 12-1 in the ML, but warrants a chance in this spot with a significant class drop. Trainer scores with .22% in the third try off a layoff, and this deep closer may like the front-end speed in here to run at. Nice work on March 4, and he should be plenty fit enough for today. I bet the 9-10 across the board and then box the top 3 numbers in the exacta. I key the top 2 over all the rest in a smaller version.

5th: 1-6-8-2-3-4…Hansen’s Holiday (1) plummets from the MSW ranks all the way to MC10,000 today. Gets the blinkers, and the trainer hit with .14% of the first timers with that equipment change. Rail post has been a huge advantage at this 1-mile distance all meet and hits at a .29% clip (thanks to my good friends at Brisnet.com). Look for a much better run today, after all he faced Givemeaminit — who is in the Louisiana Derby on Saturday — two races back. Sir Wedgeanola (6) is another getting class relief. Showed a little spark early in both of the previous runs. Gets first time blinkers today and the trainer hit with .14% of those kind. Maybe? Get It to Geaux (8) ran at this level last time out and did finish third — although well beaten at nearly 8 lengths. Had a very nice work here on March 16. One of the best that entire day. Waking up? I bet the 1 to win/place/show and then key the 1 over/under all the rest of the numbers listed.

6th: 3-8-7-2-1A-4-6-10…Mizztic Tale (3) gets a class drop to an all-time low level. First time starter for a top barn, who hits with .25% of those. Trainer also scores with .42% of those dropping down two class levels or more, like this one, too. Has a record of 2-2-1 in 10 career starts and that may be enough in this crowd Speedmeister (8) will get the saddle for the Mark Casse barn today, and they have had a very nice meeting here (.20% winners in 84 tries). Was distanced last time out in the allowance ranks, but plummets all the way to the $15,000 claiming level for this one. Looks like a bargain basement sale. Did win here back in December, so can run some. Waldorf (7) is another dropping in class. Just the second start for this barn after being relocated from Santa Anita in January. Showed early speed in the first try here on March 4, and should be better today at this reduced level. I bet the 3-8 to win/place/show and then box the top 3 in the exacta.

7th: 6-2-9-1-5-4-3…Our Golden Girl (6) was claimed off a solid barn/owner team last time out and moves up in class today for the new connections. Won that race by a whopping 71/4 lengths and that kind of performance should warrant a move up. Has run against tougher in the past, and held her own. Rider sticks on the filly despite the barn change. Good sign. Elektracutioner (2) drops to a career low level after trying Stakes company in two of the last three. Was on roll late last fall, and may wake up a bit today with the class relief. Trainer does well in these ranks (.17%) and has a couple of winners in just 11 starts this meet. Blessed Song (9) was picked up in the last one and moves up in class today. Had an easy win in that one, too. Has faced this level or above in th4e past, and should be OK with a similar run today. Trainer is a perfect 1-for-1 on the first start after a purchase. I bet the 6-9 to win/place/show and then box the top 3 numbers in the exacta.

8th: 10-5-3-9-8…Calamity Jane (10) comes into this one off a fast-closing, wide rallying win at odds of 2-1. Comes right back and has the same ML odds for this one. Has never put back-to-back wins together that we can see from the past performances, but does have a nice record of 6-3-5 in 21 lifetime starts. Has 4 wins over the grass and has a record of 2-0-2 in 7 races at the FG, too. Adds up. Diamond Cutter (5) gets back to the grass where she has put up a nice record of 1-3-1 in 6 tries to date. Last time seen on the grass was Jan. 1 here, and the ran second to the preferred choice. They may hit the wire like that again today. Lovely Charlie (3) gets a nice class drop after a front end win on the grass debut here March 1. Moves to open company for this one, though, and that could be a challenge. Top rider sticks. Beware. I bet the 10 to win/place/show and then key the 10 over/under all the numbers listed in the exactas.

9th: 12-3-1-5…I go to the far outside, which has been tough sledding this meet, for today’s finale. Red Roux (12) is getting a big class drop, and blinkers for the first time. Trainer hits with .29% of those wearing the shades for the first time. Gets a nice rider switch for this one, and had a nice work here on March 16. Look for improvement in this spot today. My First Guitar (3) is a son of Star Guitar, and he will be dropping to a career low level today. Ran well two races back and a return to the dirt today should help, as well. Silver Zephyr (1) is a first time starter for a barn that can win with those making the debut in the MC ranks (.13%). Rail is golden here, with .24% winners at this sprint distance. The dam of this one has 2 winners from 2 starters and 1 Stakes winner, a well. Won’t have to do much to be a contender in this spot. I bet the 12 to win/place/show and then key the 12 over/under the “all button.”

Good Luck & All the Best/Gene