Today is the day for Louisiana-breds down at Fair Grounds in New Orleans. And, before you dismiss it and look elsewhere for betting value and entertainment, you had better take a good look at this card today. The breeding program in this state has improved greatly, and, perhaps, more than any other state in the country.  Louisiana-breds have run well all over the country this year, including Givemeaminit, who ran 4th in this year’s Breeders’ Cup Juvenile.

This is a wonderful card, and if you want to know even more details check out our interview and audio cast on our “Main Frame” today. Brian Spencer, who is the director of communications and chief racing analyst for the track, joined us to help preview today’s card. He has some very interesting insights and selections — including a couple of long shots on today’s card.

Here is a closer look at our picks for today’s races:

1st: This is a Quarter Horse Classic. Not my field of study, so you are on your own here.

2nd: This is the Quarter Horse Derby. Again. I don’t pretend to know much about handicapping Quarter Horse races. Good luck.

3rd: This is the Quarter Horse Juvenile. See above.

4th: Louisiana Championship Starter Handicap: 3-2-5-6…I’m going with a bit of an upset right off the bat. Princetonian (3) has never been this far yet, but he is with a new trainer, who scores well with newbies to the barn and picks up a top rider, who has a record of 3-2-1 in 12 mounts over the last 7 days. Princetonian is not nearly as accomplished as the ML favorite and likely PT favorite, Southern Mister (2). But…This guy has been running against open company up at Laurel Park in Maryland, and has certainly appeared to like the grass — which is relatively new to him. I like the 6-1 ML here. Southern Mister comes into this one off an impressive 31/4-length victory in the last and has now strung together three straight wins and has hit the board in the last 9 in a row. The 7YO gelding has made it to the winner’s circle in 6 of those. Hard to go against this pro, although he is not at his best at this 1-mile distance. Has only one win in 7 tries going this far. Vulnerable at a short price today? Thunderberg (5) is truly the best “Miler on the Turf” in this group, IMO. He has put together a record of 5-3-1 in 19 starts at this distance, and this 7YO gelding is coming off a start when he didn’t have much of a chance. The last time he ran a mile prior to the last race stake, this one was right there. I bet the 3 to win/place/show and then box the top 3 choices in the exacta. Bris.net goes with 2-5-7 in its’ “Prime Power” ratings. Check them out. The info available here is the best in the country, bar none, and is packaged in a concise, easy-to-use format. I love it, and I was a loyal DRF until recently.

5th: Louisiana Championship Lassie Stakes: 4-6-5-8-1…Andthebandplayedon (4) has rung up a win and two seconds in 3 starts for trainer Al Stall, who is tearing it up here again. Picks up top rider in Corey Lanerie after just missing in an allowance event here on Nov. 18. Certainly, this one will be tough to beat with any improvement off that performance. Mini to Stardom (6) is another from the barn of Stall. This one aired on debut the same day as her stablemate ran a tough-beat second. This one ran off to a 51/4 length victory, but will face winners for the first time. That’s a tough condition to jump up and win and experience may hit her in the stretch-out, too. Yes Gorgeous (5) was well-beaten in the last, but that was in Stakes company down at Delta Downs. Fits nicely in this one. I bet the 4 to win/place/show and then box the top 3 numbers in one exacta and then key the 4 over/under all the numbers in two more.

6th: Louisiana Champions Ladies Stakes: 6-5-9-1-2…Dontmesswithxjoanne (6) gets my “dot” (must use) in this spot, coming off a third-place finish in the last one and well-beaten by her stablemate and ML favorite Inveniam Viam (5). But my preferred choice in that one drew the #9 post position in that affair, while the winner got to break from the #3.  There is a huge bias towards the inside — on both dirt and turf — so far this meet, and my choice went 2 to 3 wide in both turns. I think she draws a much better trip today and can flip the order at much better odds. Inveniam Viam, who also comes from the barn of Brad Cox, looked impressive in the last and she knows how to string wins together. She had 4 in a row earlier this year — including several against open company. She will be tough again today. Pacific Pink (9) gets the unfortunate task of breaking from the outside today, but she is a closer, who should save ground with Lanerie in the saddle. She will run hard in the stretch and may split the top pair. I bet the 6 to win/place/show and then box the top 3 choices in one exacta and then key the 6 over/under in two smaller versions.

7th: MSW Event for LA-Breds: 11-10-3-5-6-12-9…Having just written about the bias towards the inside horses, I am leaning to the outside in this one. It appears, at least on paper, that the first time starters in this one are the preferred choices. I like Classy Paddy (11), who is 15-1 ML odds, the best of the bunch. This one is training lights out for a trainer who hits with a nice .14% with debut runners. The dam of this one has 6 winners from 9 starters and 2 stakes winners to date. May surprise. The horse that is sure to get a lot of action is B’s Ten (10), who is trained by Steve Asmussen. This one cost $120,000 at the OBS Sale in April and is training well for the inaugural event, too. Both of these will have to break well and get clear as soon as possible. If not, She Sang Dixie (3), who ran second on debut on Nov. 18 here, may take full advantage and jump to an early lead. She should be much sharper from the gate with the addition of blinkers. I bet the 11-3 across the board and then box the top 3 numbers in one exacta, and then key the top 3 over the rest in another.

8th: Louisiana Champions Day Turf Stakes: 8-4-6-1-5…I’m taking another value play in this one with Extra Credit (8), who comes from the Brad Cox barn. He ran a super one to just miss in the last out, the Mr. Sulu Stakes here on Nov. 18. Stretches out a bit more today, at a distance he has not hit the board at in two previous tries. But he was coming off a year layoff in one of those, and caught a soft grass in the other. I think he should be primed today. Trust Factor (4) is the ML favorite, and why not. This one has 3 wins, 2 seconds and a third in 6 starts here, and has never been off the board in 3 tries at the distance. He was a game second in the Mr. Sulu and is definitely the horse to beat. Fort Pulaski (6) did edge Trust Factor in the last out, coming from off the pace to do so. He has a second and three thirds in 4 previous tries at the distance, but appears good right now. I bet the 8 to win/place/show and then box the top 3 in one exacta and then key the 8 over/under in two more.

9th: Louisiana Champions Day Juvenile: 3-10-5-8-6-1…Ready Prospector (3) was so highly thought of that the connections shipped him to Lexington to run in the G1 Claiborne Breeders’ Futurity, where he pushed the pace for the first half of that event. He tired there, and backed up when Free Drop Billy kicked it in, but this one has ability. Real ability. And, I think it will show again today. My first Best Bet. Aceguitar (10) is one of Danny Pish’s pupils and he started his career in style with an 83/4-length victory. Ran second in a Stakes at Lone Star in his second start and then won a Louisiana-bred Stakes in the third. Should fit nicely if he can overcome the outside post. Divine Bean (5) is a highly-touted son of Star Guitar from the Al Stall barn. Won easily on debut, but steps up in class today. I bet the 3 to win/place/show and then key the 3 over/under in the exactas.

10th: Louisiana Champions Day Classic: 7-3-6-2…Underpressure (7) gets my top nod here, coming in off a nice win at Delta Downs. Bris.net quibbles about this one poor speed figures, but I think this sone of Brimstone has the right stalking/closing style it will take to win this one today, and picks up a huge rider switch to Lanerie. Love the 4-1 ML odds. My Upset Special. Mobile Bay (3) is the heavy ML favorite and should be coming in off two straight LA-Bred Stakes wins. Has a record of 2-2-1 in 7 starts here, and will be pushing the pace from the get-go. Grande Basin(6) is another deep closer that I like in this spot. Has hit the board in 13 of 16 starts here and may have the right pace set-up today. I bet the 7 to win/place/show and then box the top 3 numbers in one exacta and then key the 7 over/under in two more.

11th: Louisiana Champions Day Sprint: 4-3-6-2…Jockomo’s Song (4) is a solid pick and my second Best Bet of the day. This one has 3 wins and 2 seconds at Fair Grounds and loves this distance, too. Trainer is on fire and had a top workout here on Nov. 29.  Adds up for me. Stand Him Up (3) won a Stakes here in the last and has now three wins in the last four tries. This one has hit the board in the last 8 outs and should be close to the pace from the get-go, too. Nubin Ridge (6) may be the best closer in the group. I bet the 4 to win/place/show and then key the 4 over/under the other numbers listed in the exactas.

12th: Louisiana Champions Day Ladies Sprint: 4-1-8-10…My Miss Chiff (4) is heavily favored in this one and should be. She had all kinds of traffic issues in the last and still won. She ran third in the G3 Miss Preakness Stakes at Pimlico and was a tough out in the G3 Beaumont at Keeneland before that. The star here. Sunny Oak (1) was bumped hard and checked terribly in the last out and you have to throw that race completely out of the equation. She will get a better trip from the preferred rail today. Wheat field (8) never runs a bad one, but she has not won in 11 tries this year. Take note. I bet the 4 to win/place and then key the 4 over/under the others in the exactas.

13th: Louisiana-bred MSW: Bris.net goes with 11-4-10. I side with them. I am worn out, in a good way.