Synchrony winning the Fair Grounds Handicap (gr. III) - Hodges Photography/Lou Hodges, Jr.

Synchrony winning the 2018 Fair Grounds Handicap (gr. III) – Hodges Photography/Lou Hodges, Jr.

Planning to watch and wager on the Risen Star Stakes (gr. II) this Saturday at Fair Grounds? Don’t forget to check out the other appealing races on the card!

I’ve already shared my thoughts on the Risen Star, but that’s just one of the dozen races on the agenda. After going over the rest of the card, I’ve found four other spot plays throughout the day that warrant consideration. Whether betting to win or playing the multi-race wagers, I think these horses offer strong chances to prevail at fair odds.

Let’s dig in!

Race 2: Colonel Power Stakes

There are some accomplished turf sprinters in this field, including the ten-year-old veteran #7 Hogy, but I’m inclined to throw my support behind the up-and-comer #8 Savage Battle. A five-year-old son of War Front, Savage Battle has won two of his three starts since being transferred to the care of Gary Scherer and enters off a three-length victory in an allowance race over this course and distance on January 20. That race was particularly impressive because the early pace was modest—RacingFlow.com assigned the race a speed-favoring “2” on their 1-to-100 scale—but Savage Battle nevertheless produced a big finish to rally and win going away. There should be more pace on Saturday, and his 10-1 morning line odds are enticing.

$10 to win on #8 Savage Battle
$5 double: 8 with 2

Race 3: Maiden Special Weight

There are four Triple Crown-nominated first-time starters in this six-furlong sprint, all hailing from top barns, but my interest lies with #2 Bourbon Calling. This son of Dialed In has kept good company in his four races to date and ran deceptively well to finish third over this track and distance on January 19. That effort was noteworthy because the opening half-mile went in :47.47, giving the front-runners an insurmountable advantage. Indeed, with the final two furlongs being run in :11.82 and :11.86 seconds, the race was essentially dominated by speed horses, so under the circumstances Boubon Calling ran very well to rally from tenth place and finish third by 2 ¾ lengths. If he gets a more reasonable setup on Saturday, I think he can win.

$10 to win on #2 Bourbon Calling

Race 10: Fair Grounds Handicap (gr. III)

After traveling the country in 2018 and picking up four graded stakes wins along the way, #9 Synchrony is heading back to Fair Grounds, where he was a dominant two-length winner of this race last year. This nine-furlong distance is right in his wheelhouse, and I was impressed by his third-place finish in the Seabiscuit Handicap (gr. II) last time out—he had to wait in traffic at a key moment on the far turn, but produced a big rally once in the clear to gain some 4 ¼ lengths on the leaders in the final furlong. Give him a clean trip, and I see no reason why he can’t score a repeat victory.

$10 to win on #9 Synchrony
$5 double: 9 with 3

Race 11: Rachel Alexandra Stakes (gr. II)

#3 Serengeti Empress came up empty in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies (gr. I), but previously the Tom Amoss-trained filly had scored three impressive victories from four starts. Most notably, the daughter of Alternation used her terrific early speed to annihilate ten rivals by 19 ½ lengths in the Pocahontas Stakes (gr. II) at Churchill Downs. None of her rivals have ever posted a triple-digit BRIS E1 pace rating, but Serengeti Empress has done so three times, throwing down numbers of 103, 110, and 108. If she wants to take the lead on Saturday, I don’t see anyone giving her much of a fight, and if she can shake loose up front, it could be tough to run her down.

$10 to win on #3 Serengeti Empress

Total cost of all plays: $50

Good luck!