It is the Fair Grounds’ “Meet Finale Eve.” The next to last day of this mammoth race meeting, which started way back around Thanksgiving time of 2017. There is a few races still in the balance, like the Trainer’s Title and the Jockey’s Championship. And, a few good races to capture.

On Thursday, we had five winners out of the 10 races, and today, the Fair Grounds will card 11 events. Nothing like closing with a bang, right?

Here is a closer look at today’s card:

1st: 8-7-5-2-1…Jane Ran a Double (8) will try to get trainer Joe Sharp and rider Adam Beschizza one win closer to the aforementioned titles. Both are in the running, but need a late rush to capture either the trainer title, or jockey’s race, respectively. This 4YO filly comes into this one off an impressive and easy 41/4-length victory. She will be facing winners for the first time ever today, though, and she will be making her first start for the new connections, too. Sharp wins with 13% of those making the debut in his barn, and does hit with .25% of all claimers. Commanding Action (7) finished 25 lengths behind the winner in the last try, but falls to the basement today after that poor effort. Three races back, she broke her maiden against LA-breds only her and then she ran a credible race against winners for the first time. Don’t know what happened in the last, but it was not good. Trainer is having a good meet. Syrup Cake (5) folded late in her last try down at Delta Downs. Moves up to the major leagues today. Despite only 1 win in 17 career starts, this one has 4 seconds and 3 thirds on the resume. I play under, only. I bet the 8-7 to win/place/show and then box those two solidly in one exacta. Key those two over the rest in a smaller version.

2nd: 5-6-4-8-2…Mix and Mingle (5) goes for the barn of Michael Stidham today, and he has had a solid meet with .18% winners from 120 starters. This one ran third last time out at this level, and should improve off that effort. That was the first race in three months. Was odds-on favorite in that last race, and the trainer hits with .22% of these kind returning to the races. Tiz Cecile (6) is a first timer for the barn of Brad Cox, who is trying to hold off Sharp in the Trainer’s Title race. This one has been training OK for the debut, and the trainer does hit with .22% in the Maiden Claiming ranks. Gets a top rider for this one, and the dam was a Stakes winner. Unfading Beauty (4) has run 17 times to date with no luck. But she has 4 seconds and 3 thirds, which makes you think she will be close at the end. I play underneath only. I bet the 5-6 across the board and then box those 2 in the exacta. I key the top 2 over all the rest in a smaller version.

3rd: 1-2-6-9-7-3-4…Off On Holiday (1) ran a solid third last time out, while not getting the easiest and best of trips. Nice rider switch for this one, and he has a win and a second in 3 starts in New Orleans. Rail has been golden all meet at this distance, with a 20% win ratio. Shaniko’s Secret (2) is parked just to the outside of the preferred choice, and comes in with a near miss second at this same level last time out in February. Gets a huge rider switch for this one, and should be closing with a rush late. In 13 starts over this track, he does NOT have a win to date, but does have 3 seconds and 2 thirds. They Call Me Seb (6) tired late last time out on the sod, but will stretch out to a route on the dirt today. This trainer hits with this kind of dropper on .29% of the time, and despite a soft jockey record, this one could have a chance in this bunch with the return to the dirt. I bet the 1 to win/place/show and then box the top 3 numbers in the exacta.

4th: 4-7-5-1-3-2…It’s Mike’s Turn (4) gets a class drop again today for a top ranked trainer, who is winning with .29% of starters this meet. Was wide in the last out, but should fit with these today. Like the 4-1 ML odds, but I don’t think they will stay that high. Won three starts back and has the stalking style it takes to be tough in this one. Jake the Band Man (7) goes for a trainer who has a win and a second in only 7 starts here this meet. And, this one has supplied both of those. Won two back on dirt, and then ran second by a head on the grass in the last one. Will return to the dirt today, and should be tough at this level. Fire Blaster (5) has 2 wins in 10 starts lifetime, and ran a very game second on the drop last time out. Wheels right back at the same level today and no reason to believe that he doesn’t fit right there. Sharp work down at Evangeline Downs on March 24, and trainer has hit with .26% of the last 544 claimers. Can’t dismiss. I bet the 4-5 to win/place/show and then box the top 3 in the exacta.

5th: (12)-4-6-9-5-2-10…If the #12 draws into this turf battle, then I have to use. If not, I go to the first time starter C.Mon Ve (4), who goes for the barn of Sam David, Jr. The guy is having a super good meet with .26% winners out of 61 starters, and he scores with .11% of first time starters. This one is training really well for the debut today. Social Cat (6) is another first timer who will go for a trainer that scores with .24% of debut runners. This one had a nice work here on March 26 and attracts one of the game’s best overall riders. Watch out. Smooth Colliery (9) goes for a trainer who has started only 2 horses this meet. He does have 2 seconds, though, and this one will make the debut for this outfit. He hits with .18% of those kind, and will get a solid rider in the saddle. Nice work at Evangeline on March 21. Can’t dismiss. I bet the 12 if he runs. If not, I bet the 4-6 across the board and then box the top 3 in one exacta, and then key the top 3 over the rest in a smaller version.

6th: 11-12-10-5-1-4-9…Mischievous Dancer (11) gets the nod in this Maiden Claiming sprint effort. This one was claimed last time out by the Sharp barn, and he wheels this guy right back at the same level a month later. This one was well bet in the last effort, where he ran a solid third while wide. Good work here on March 24, and gets a huge rider switch to the barn’s go-to rider. The pick. Just Old School (12) has a shot in this one, though. She has not been out since Feb. 9, but she gets a huge class drop for a top notch barn operator, who scores with 21% of those making the debut in the MC ranks. This one is coming off two non-threatening efforts, but did show some morning lick back earlier this year. Vanquish (10) is the third one posted on the far outside that looks to be the best of this bunch. He spit the bit hard in the last one, while running on the turf and around two turns. Gets back to a sprint on the dirt today, and that should help his chances immensely. This one cost $400,000 as a yearling and now shows up with a full set of equipment and for sale for only $15,000. Probably a claim candidate in here. Trainer does hit with .25% on this kind of drop. I bet the 11-10 across the board and then box the top 3 in one exacta. I key the top 3 over the rest in a smaller version.

7th: 2-7-5-9-3-1-8…Run Adrian Run (2) is 12-1 ML, and if he stays anywhere close to that number he will be both my Upset Special and my Best Bet of the Day pick, all rolled into one. This 3YO colt by Warrior’s Reward is trained by a guy I have never heard of before, but he has a win and 2 thirds in just 6 starts this meet. And, he gets Gabriel Saez, who has been on a tear of late, to ride. If that is not enough, this guy had a super work here on March 24, and had all kinds of trouble in his lone start, which came over at Sam Houston on March 6. He went a sprint distance of 5 furlongs on the grass that day and he was completely shut off, and taken up after being bet down to odds of 5-2. Now, he will stretch out to 11/16 miles on the turf and gets the drop down to MC ranks for the first time. This one may be ready to roll. At some odds. Come on Dover (7) has run only one good race out of the first 6, but gets a huge class drop for this one today, and gets a return to a rider that can actually ride some. Trainer hits with .21% of those going from MSW ranks to MC for the first time. Nice work move here on March 22. Like the 6-1 ML odds here, too. Take the Count (5) is a third one getting class relief in this spot today. Picks up one of the best riders in the land for the first time. And, will get to the grass for the first time, too. Trainer does not do well with first timers on the sod (.03%), but this one is a nice home-bred for a top operation. Should fit with these. I bet the 2 to win/place/show and then box the top 3 in the exacta. I key the 2 over/under all the numbers in two exactas and then box the top 3 in a smaller version.

8th: 3-12-11-7-5-8-1-4…Is Too (3) came running with a rush at the end of the last one and nearly got the win, losing by only a neck. Lacked room and was steadied late in that one, or would have likely won. Now, gets Florent Geroux back in the saddle and with any luck at all this time around, she should find her way to the winner’s circle. Love the 7-2 odds on this one. Work back in February indicates this one has some run to her. Shakopee Town (12) nearly won the last time out, too, went bet down to less than 3-1 odds. Beat the preferred choice in that one with a late run, as well. Actually made the lead before giving it up at the wire. This one was forced out nearing the wire, too, and was wide throughout. Emily Jo (11) is 10-1 ML odds, but was beaten only 41/2 in that same race. This one was off very slow in that race and did make a late run. Has come back to work very well here on March 19. Should improve off that lone effort. I bet the 3 to win/place/show and then box the top 3 numbers in one exacta. I key those 3 over the rest in a smaller version.

9th: 9-6-8-11-7-5…Fashion’s Touch (9) came out running over a sloppy track here back in February and carried the field all the way to near the wire of that 6-furlong event. Gave it up late as one of the heavy favorites. Back at the same level for this one, and gets a hot rider. Sharp workout here on March 24. All adds up to what should be a good performance today. Perfect Poet (6) will be a first timer for the barn of Steve Asmussen, who hits with .15% of those making the debut in the MC ranks. This one goes for a trainer/jockey combo who have teamed up for a 5-2-5 record over the last 18 starts together. Warrior’s Way (8) drops into the MC ranks for the first time and the trainer hits with those making this drop. Gets a new rider for this one. I bet the 9 to win/place/show and then key the 9 over/under all the other numbers listed in the exactas.

10th: 10-6-5-9-11-1-3…Titanium Bill (10) will pick up one of the meet’s hottest riders for the first time today, and that may be enough to get this guy back in the winner’s circle for the first time since his debut run last November. Working good for this one, and will be the first on the grass for a trainer that does OK with the move to the sod for the first time (.16%). Aw Shucks (6) broke the maiden last time out at the MSW ranks, and now goes from dirt to turf for a trainer that knows how to do that very well (.21%). This one has never been worse than fourth in 6 career starts and figures to stalk the pace from the get-go. Watch for this one. Zippy (5) will get his second start on the sod for a trainer that does well with that angle, and is coming out of a nice MSW win, too. The move to the turf certainly seemed to help this one in that affair, and if it stays on the grass today, this one could run well again with Florent Geroux in the irons. Like the 8-1 ML odds. I bet the 10 to win/place/show and then box the top 3 in the exacta. I key the top 3 over the rest in a smaller version.

11th: 5-8-7-4-2-3-1-10…Saintly Cry (5) is what I did when I saw there was 11 races carded and needed to be handicapped. My gosh, a full card for sure. But this filly is getting a class drop to a career low level and if she can duplicate her run from two starts back, she will be very tough to handle in this spot for a trainer having a very solid meet (.21%). Gets a new rider today, and he has done OK this meet, as well. Anything But Amie (8) nearly won with a late rush in the last one out. Drops another notch for this one, and should be tough at this level. I 5 career starts to date, she has 3 seconds and 1 third. Jockey has a record of 7-3-2 in the last 23 rides. Yella Wally Gator (7) is one that I have used a couple of times this meet. Ran second three starts back, but disappointed in each of the last two outs. Was wide in both turns in each of those. Now, trainer shifts to one of the best riders this meet. Just may be the urge this one needs. Has 2 seconds and a third in 7 starts to date, and is capable. I bet the 5-7 to win/place/show and then box the top 3 numbers in one exacta, and then key the top 3 over the rest in a smaller version.

Good Luck & All the Best/Gene