Colonel Power Stakes
The Fair Grounds has some excellent racing this weekend and this is the first of many from the New Orleans oval that has caught my fancy. The undefeated Euroears looks like spectacular value at 4/1 but I'm actually going to oppose him because I think he'll be 7/5 by post time. The outside post is a disadvantage but the public loves and undefeated horse. Especially one who beat the second favorite last time out and is coming back to a surface where he beat another solid contender easily. Stormin Baghdad has to be respected because he is from Asmussen's barn and because he showed he was close to Euroears in ability but this is his first try on Turf and he does not seem to have near as much room for improvement as Euroears. So far I've said I'm going to oppose Euroears but then I've said nothing but good about him. Well here is the reason why. I think the pace will play against him. There is a lot of speed in the race as you'd expect in a sprint but there is also a very high quality closer. Fort Prado was a bit of a turf phenom early in his career. Now the 7yo gelding has found a new lease on life as a sprinter. His win in the Woodford Reserve against a very tough TD Vance is more than good enough to win this. He has good historic form over the track and the reduced distance has really sharpened his late kick. He has been working fantastically for this race. I expect a big run from him to deny Euroears late.
I really hope Silver Lord stays in this race instead of the Essex at Oaklawn. Because you likely won't get a price on him at Oaklawn but with Grasshopper in the race a decent price is there to be had. I don't know if Silver Lord will eventually prove to be better than Grasshopper but do think he'll have a pace advantage and a recency advantage. Neil Howard is definitely looking down the road with Grasshopper and all he wants is a good effort from him. Silver Lord is running to prove to his connections that he could have a bright future. He was absolutely fantastic in his last race if he runs like that again he will be tough. I have not mentioned Magna Graduate yet because I think he's one of those horses who sucks you in. He is almost always well bet and he is far from a consistent winner. I'd rather use him underneath the speedy and improving Silver Lord.
Fair Grounds Handicap
If the first two races were enticing, this is downright mouthwatering. It's one of those races that you just feel like there are tons of opportunities. Better Talk Now is the hot pot and I think he is definitely better than all of these horses on his best day. But he's 9 years old now and his only race at the Fair Grounds saw him run very badly while favored. It's tough to predict lifetime best form with any confidence. Those who have read this space for the last bit will know that I love Inca King's prospects as a turf miler but in this race I'm a little wary of his chances. I will be cheering for him but I won't play him for any better than second or third. The outside post is cruel and the pace should be on the fast side with Daytona in here. I think Inca King will make the lead at the head of the stretch but his lack of stamina will show and he'll get caught. I've played Sterwins and French Beret in the last two big turf routes at the FG with good success. I think it's time to get off the French Beret bandwagon though. I think he's a step too slow. Sterwins on the other hand does have an outsiders chance. I do not like 6/1 on him but when the ground is firm (which it should be) Sterwins is a very tough horse. I think he is a must use in exotics and maybe even for the win spot if the price is right. I don't like Daytona at all, I'll let him beat me. One horse that makes me raise an eyebrow is Baby First. You have to ask why this horse shipped all the way across the country for this race. It was likely for companionship for Signature Move who runs in the Risen Star but Baby First could step up and be a real threat. I think for this race though I've settled on Silverfoot. There are a few things I really like about him. The first is that his best race is just about as good as Better Talk Now's. If BTN does bring his best stuff Silverfoot is the only horse with a chance. Another thing I like about him is that he's a good quality closer in a race with decent speed, he's also got a very patient rider in Leparoux, he typically excels with closers. He never raced at all in 2007 because of injury and he did look rusty in his last. But he closed well enough to suggest that some of the old flash is still there. It's hard to imagine that Stewart would have had him cranked for that one. He's had two nice works since then and could be primed to upset this race. I will likely chicken out and use Better Talk Now as well. Because of Daytona and Inca King you might actually get 5/2 or more on him. That's a good price for the best horse.
Better Talk Now
I'm looking for Indian Blessing to get beat. In fact I'm fairly confident that she get beat. Proud Spell should take her revenge in round 2 of this rivalry. Indian Blessing did not look great in her last. It may have been because of Cushion track but 4/5 is ridiculous on her. Proud Spell gave her a pretty decent race in the BC Juvenile Fillies, a race I thought she was poorly prepared for. Jones is already making plans to take the promising Eight Belles out of town to stay away from Proud Spell and I think she claims the scalp of the champion here. She can sit in and stalk any pace setup and Jolie The Cat will likely push Indian Blessing from the off.
Risen Star Stakes
I suppose I'm hoping for a real gray day at the Fair Grounds because Fort Prado, Silver Lord and Silverfoot are all grays and I love another gray in here as well. Z Fortune will in my estimation, prove to be better than Pyro and Visionaire. His performance in the Lecomte was the best performance by a 3yo to date in my opinion and I think his tactical speed will help him to overcome his rivals who will be hoping for a pace meltdown. There is no denying the class of Pyro but it is also difficult to overlook the fact that he doesn't win. He looked like a good gamble to overtake War Pass in the Juvenile after his Champagne performance but he ended up getting beaten by even more. He may not be mentally up to winning and in Z Fortune he'll find a quick adversary who might be gone before he gets rolling. Despite the confidence of Eric Guillot I'm playing against Signature Move. If he wins this race he's a fantastic horse. Visionaire should also run well but I think the Matz trainee will be hard pressed to out close Pyro so even if the pair of them get to Z Fortune it's hard to see him winning, but I do prefer him to Blackberry Road. Let's hope it's a good day for grays!