As we roll into the last week of the Fair Grounds meet, we have had a lot of fun working over the past performances of every race the track has held since beginning last November. We have learned a lot about Louisiana-breds, and Louisiana trainers, and Louisiana riders. But, we have had a lot of fun, watching some of the Midwest’s best winter down in New Orleans and watching the battles and rivalries develop.

It has been a great meet. Let’s finish with a great week.

Here is a closer look at today’s card:

1st: 3-1-6-7-5-4…Too Dim (3) figures to be the huge favorite for trainer Tom Amoss and rider Florent Geroux. And, why not. They have won three of the last four tries and the lone loss was a second by a nose. Will go off at odds-on, and I will try to beat. This one has a record of 10-4-3 in 24 starts at the Fair Grounds. Odds-on. Blue Choice (1) gets my second selection in here. The 7YO gelding will be dropping down in class for a trainer that has won 1 time out of 62 races this meet. He only has 1 second and 5 thirds, to boot. But this one nearly won two races back before tiring late and that was off a layoff. Regressed a bit in the last one, but this is the third off the gap and the trainer does hit with .12% of those. Possible today at 6-1 odds. Taking a shot. Our Rapidash (7) is another class dropper, who was claimed two starts back at this level. Ran OK in the bump up. Should fit with these. Did beat the top choice three starts back. Worth noting. Like 5-1 odds better. I bet the 3 to win only and then key the 3 over/under all the numbers listed.

2nd: 10-5-4-2-1A-1-4-3…Shea’s Lil Shug (10) gets a huge drop in class for this one, after posting three seconds in the last four starts against much tougher. Trainer is very cold this meet (1-for-37), but does have 7 seconds and 8 thirds to show for his efforts. Move to the turf is OK, too. Ran third over it back in September. Adds up. Zuzor (5) is 12-1 ML odds, and gets my first Upset Special. Ran second last time out down at Sam Houston and was third at the Fair Grounds three back. Has raced 6 times over this grass with 2 seconds and 2 thirds, and may be ready for the step up to the winner’s circle today. Gets a huge rider switch to a motivated jockey, who is chasing to the rider’s title here. Trainer has 2 thirds in only 5 starts here this meet. Glide Baby Glide (2) ran a game third last time out at Delta Downs, and was claimed out of that one by the present connections. New trainer hits with .20% first time after the purchase. This trainer had this one before, late last year, and went back in to get her back. Good sign. Gets a nice rider switch for this one. Vanishing Image (1A) and Big Game Baby (1) are 12-1 in the ML for two separate trainers. Same rider named to both, so one is likely to be scratched. The former has been running against much tougher and will be stretching out for the first time ever. The latter has been a router, but hasn’t won since last September. That was a LA-bred Stakes event, though. I bet the 10-5 to win/place/show and the box the 10-5-2 in the exacta and key those 3 over the other two in a smaller version.

3rd: 4-5-2-11-7…Watch My Smoke (4) comes from a good claiming operation, and was purchased out of the last two races. This trainer scores with .29% of those making the debut for the new connections. Has hit the board in the last three, and looks to be salty at this level. Cash First (5) has hit the board in each of the last five tries, and may improve off the fourth start since a layoff. Was second in the last one, tiring late, but gets to shorten up a bit here. Watch out. Slideruler (2) offers some upset with 6-1 ML odds, but this one has been performing very well of late at Delta Downs. Can he bring his game with him to the Fair Grounds and the big leagues today? Will flash early speed and try to hold on. I bet the 4 to win/place/show and then box the top 3 numbers in one exacta, and then box the 4-5-11 in another.

4th: 4-10-5-1-6-12…Miss Emma Maria (4) picks up the services of one of the top riders in the country right now, and goes for a top notch barn which has won .30% of its races this meet. Drops in class after a nice win down at Delta. Gets back to the turf where she has won before and the trainer hits with .19% after the surface switch. Very well bred and from a dam who has one turf winner to date. Meadow Gem (10) ran a fast-closing second last time out here on Jan. 19, but will switch to the sod today. Trainer hits with .12% on the dirt-to-turf angle. Another well-bred mare well worth the $15,000 claiming price being offered today, but that a class jump up. Interesting. I Hope You Dance (5) will be getting class relief after a near miss second last time out. Sprinted on the sod that day, but has run well at this distance in the past with 3 seconds and a third in 5 tries goes this route of ground. Could upset. I bet the 4 to win/place/show and then box the top 3 numbers in the exacta.

5th: 6-7-1-5…My good friend, Buff Bradley, has not had much sleep or rest since Saturday and the unfortunate accident in the New Orleans Handicap when his star, The Player,12-2-6-11-5 was injured. Here’s hoping and praying for the best, as The Player tries to recover from surgery on Monday. Today, Buff saddles Hourse Truly (6), who was listed at 8-1 in the ML. This one tried the grass going long the last time out and pushed the pace hard early on before tiring late. May improve with a return to the dirt track today, and with a return to a more late-running style. Orbiting (7) is a first timer for the barn of Steve Asmussen, who hits with .16% of debut runners. Dam has one winner from 2 starters to date, and this one has been training OK for the first go. Gets the meet’s winningest rider on board. The one to beat. Surely You Jest (1) was supported OK in the debut run, when he ran fifth. Gets the blinkers for the first time today and the trainer does OK with that equipment change (.12%). Top jock returns to the saddle, and he has a record of 11-1-2 in 22 starts over the last 7 race days. I bet the 6-7 to win/place/show and then box the top 3 numbers in the exacta.

6th: 12-2-6-11-5…Vincitore (12) did not get the best of draws for this MC event, but he has been knocking on the door in all three of his previous races. Actually, he won two starts back — in November at Retama Park down in Texas — but was disqualified and placed 10th in that one. Was off until Feb. 13, but returned with a nice run. Could be salty today with that exercise under his belt. Look at the work on March 17. Nice. Honor Mission (2) will go for a trainer having a super cool meet here, but did close to run a non-threatening third the last time out at this level. Had some traffic issues in that affair, and did return to work OK here on March 21. I expect improvement. Great Sky (6) was claimed two races back and immediately converted to the grass. Ran OK on debut for the new barn last time out, despite some traffic issues. Could improve on the third try off a layoff and the barn soars at that condition — .28%. Upset Special Alert. I bet the 12-6 to win/place/show and then box the top 3 numbers in the exacta. I key the top 3 over the rest in a smaller version.

7th: 7-3-1-2-4-6…Glitz N Glam (7) goes for a trainer that has done very well here this meet with limited numbers. Put up a record of 2-2-1 in just 13 starts. Will import Eddie Martin Jr. from down south to rider today. He has not won this meet in 14 starts, but does have 3 seconds and 3 thirds. This one has hit the board in each of the last three tries and is working well, to boot. May carry the speed all the way today with a shorter distance. Lady Loretta (3) won easily here on Feb. 23 in the slop. Before that, though, ran away to an easier win — by 11 lengths. Really good right now, but will step up considerably in class ranks today for a top notch barn. Bears watching. Both parts of the entry have a shot in here, but I prefer Yalisha (1). She has finished within a couple of lengths of the winner in each of the last three outs, and has been trying at the end of each of those. Gets back to the dirt today and I think that is her preferred surface. Could be running late. I bet the 7 to win/place/show and then box the top 3 numbers in the exacta.

8th: 5-1-1A-7-11-8-2…Beyond Blame (5) gets my Best Bet of the Day selection in here. She won two starts back by 9 lengths over the grass here and came back to nearly win a Stakes event the next time out. Gets a top rider aboard, and trained well here on March 22. This one could turn out to be a real good one. Rips today, IMO. Both Breaking Beauty (1) and Roussalka (1A) have a shot to run behind the top choice. The former ran against “The Champ” in Rushing Fall last October at Keeneland. Came back to run 4th in a Stakes race at Churchill Downs in October, as well. Has been training very well for this try off the layoff, and the trainer hits with .18% of this types. The latter ran very well to Kabala here on march 10. That one is very good right now, and a similar effort makes this one tough in here. I bet the 5 to win/place/show and then box the 5-1 solidly. I key the 5-1 over the rest of the numbers in a smaller exacta.

9th: 13-10-14-1-7-2-3…Two of my top choices are listed on the AE list. If the 13 and/or 14 draw in, that have to be at the top of the list. If not, I have to revert to Oath to Ruston (10) who won on debut here March 9. Shifts to a new trainer after that one, and the new conditioner does not show a win. Like in ever, that I can find. Interesting move, for sure, but this one was well bet in the first try. Watch the tote board today to see what happens. Confederate Yell (1) gets the golden rail, which has produced winners at a .24% clip this meet. My “State of the Day.” This one comes out of a race where he ran a game third and was claimed. The new connections take the blinkers off today (.25% angle for this barn) and they do win with .17% on the first try after the new purchase. The one to beat. Eights Wild (7) is 12-1 ML and could be another surprise payoff today. Has not seen the winner’s circle since this time a year ago, and truly hasn’t been even close since. But was dropped to the basement in the last try and made the favorite. Clipped heels early and never got into that race. Watch today. I bet the 10-7 across the board and then box the 10-7-1 in the exacta.

Good Luck & All the Best/Gene