The upcoming Saturday race card at Fair Grounds offers something for everyone, whether you’re a fan of dirt or turf races, sprints or route, juveniles or older horses, and Thoroughbreds or Quarter Horses.
On a day billed as “Louisiana Champions Day,” seven stakes races for Louisiana-bred Thoroughbreds and three graded stakes races for Louisiana-bred Quarter Horses are on the agenda. If you’re a fan of those all-out Quarter Horse sprints, you’d better tune in early—they’re the first three events on the card, with post time for the opener scheduled for 1:30 p.m. Eastern. The Thoroughbreds will get started a bit later in the afternoon, with the first stakes race schedule for 2:55 p.m.
Let’s take a quick look at what to watch for in each of the Thoroughbred stakes races….
Race 5: Louisiana Champions Day Lassie Stakes
Only six will face the starter in this six-furlong sprint for juvenile fillies, and #1 Midnight Fantasy—a powerful 9 ½-length debut winner at Fair Grounds last month for trainer Joe Sharp—looms as a clear choice to win, though the stakes winners #4 Silvercents and # Goodprofit have proven class and significantly more racing experience.
Race 7: Louisiana Champions Day Juvenile Stakes
The Juvenile Stakes attracted a 50% larger field than the Lassie Stakes, though it will still have a clear favorite thanks to the presence of #5 Classy John, a six-length debut winner at Saratoga who subsequently finished a strong second in a quality allowance race at Churchill Downs. Classy John’s form lines and BRIS speed figures tower over this field, though the stakes winners #7 Pickett and #8 Cabo’s Rumor and the improving stakes-placed #6 Jimi’s a Star could make for a competitive race if the favorite falters.
Race 8: Louisiana Champions Day Turf Stakes
#1 Pont Du Gard is taking a huge drop in class after competing in four graded stakes races during the spring and summer, most notably finishing second in the Arlington Classic (gr. III) over the same 1 1/16-mile distance as the Louisiana Champions Day Turf Stakes. Facing fellow Louisiana-breds should be an easier task, though #6 Ninety One Assault has run well against open allowance company and #7 In the Navy beat Ninety One Assault in the Mr. Sulu Stakes at Fair Grounds last month, so the race might not be a walkover for Pont Du Gard.
Race 9: Louisiana Champions Day Classic Stakes
#3 Underpressure is consistently fast and a proven stakes competitor, but he’s also 0-for-4 at Fair Grounds and disappointed when sixth in the Delta Mile last time out, which could leave him vulnerable to a mild upset from #6 Grande Basin, who finished ahead of Underpressure by one length when coming home second in the 2017 Louisiana Champions Day Classic Stakes.
Race 10: Louisiana Champions Day Ladies Stakes
#9 Pacific Pink unleashed a big rally to finish second in this race last year, but she’ll likely be overshadowed in the wagering by #5 Viva Vegas, who takes a sharp drop in class after competing in four straight graded stakes races. #4 Remember Daisy, recent winner of the Tom Benson Memorial Overnight Stakes at Fair Grounds, is another logical contender in this competitive race, along with the Tom Benson runner-up #8 Eskenformore and the River Cities Stakes winner #7 Bermuda Star.
Race 11: Louisiana Champions Day Sprint Stakes
#3 Monte Man has been flat-out unstoppable over the last year with seven straight wins dating back to December 2017, and he’s also unbeaten in three starts at Fair Grounds, most recently cruising to a decisive triumph in the November 17th Heitai Stakes. It will be tough for anyone to beat him, though #2 Givemeaminit is a Grade 1-placed colt with ten graded stakes starts under his belt, making him an interesting alternative.
Race 12: Louisiana Champions Day Ladies Sprint Stakes
#2 Minit to Stardom’s lone defeat in four starts came when sixth in the Test Stakes (gr. I) at Saratoga, and she’ll certainly find easier competition while returning to Fair Grounds, where she won the Louisiana Champions Day Lassie Stakes by 7 ¼ lengths last year. She’d be a clear favorite if not for the presence of #3 Ours to Run, who romped to an eye-catching 8 ¾-length victory in the Happy Ticket Stakes over this track and distance last month.