by: Scott Shapiro
Racing resumes at Fair Grounds on Thursday afternoon after a couple of dark days.
The action includes an early Pick 4 starting in Race 2 that concludes with a low level maiden claimer over the main track in Race 5.
Here are my thoughts on the sequence:
With the late scratch of my Very Elegant, I will now lean on #1 Red Hot Cherry as my top choice and single in the early Pick 4. The daughter of Cool Coal Man should find a prominent spot along the inside under jockey Corey Lanerie and have enough left late to earn her first victory since a win over the lawn at Canterbury Park last summer.
A non-winners of three $5K claimer at one mile over the dirt kicks things off. I am going to live and die with the chances of 8-5-morning line favorite #6 Very Elegant.
The five-year-old mare makes her third start of the form cycle for trainer Bernard Flint after taking on better in each of her first two tries off the six-week freshening.
Look for jockey Brian Hernandez, Jr. to send this daughter of Notional right to the front, dictate a moderate early tempo and have plenty left in the tank to finish the deal. Wire to wire in the second.
The second leg of Thursday’s early Pick 4 is a $5K claimer for those who have yet to win two races.
I will side with a few older fillies and mares in this six-furlong dash over the main track; including late running #1 She Loves Leather.
The five-year-old mare has struggled to get out of the gate in each of her first two starts off the layoff for new trainer Merrill Scherer. The inability to break has often left the daughter of Corinthian with too much to do, but she has shown a solid turn of foot late in races.
If she can get out of the gate with the rest of the field on Thursday afternoon she should mow them all down in the lane.
I will also include #2 Dixie Jewel and #7 Dollar Dancer. Both should be prominently placed after running into a dominant heavy favorite last time out.
I found the fourth race to be by far the trickiest race of the Thursday card. In fact, a case could be made for nearly every horse in this full field optional claimer at one mile over the sod.
For that reason, I am going to hit the ALL button and hope to catch a price heading into the final leg.
The payoff leg offers handicappers a field of 9 maidens entered for the low price of $15,000.
#4 Cumber is the deserving 5-2-morning line favorite off of his runner-up finish versus slightly lesser on February 2nd, but the Oklahoma bred son of Mission Impazible is far from unbeatable.
I also give upset chances to #5 Hotnthirsty on the drop in class and cut back to one turn, #6 Lil Blankey who should get his first shot over a fast main track and #7 Big Nono who should improve after the much necessary racing experience in his debut earlier this month.
Race 2: 1
Race 3: 1+2+7
Race 4: ALL
Race 5: 4+5+6+7
Ticket Amount: $84
Good luck. Let’s get the week of racing in New Orleans started right!