March 12, 2009

Louisiana Day at the Track

What a race card The Fair Grounds Racecourse in New Orleans has assembled for Saturday... it's too bad mother nature may not co-operate!

In addition to the marquee Louisiana Derby, the top regional turf horses, handicap division and fillies (led by my main gal, Rachel Alexandra) will be in action on Saturday's card, with major purse money on the line. We'll see if Rachel can continue to best the speed times of her male counterparts while she tackles a small field in the Oaks race.

Other key Derby preps (Rebel Stakes, San Felipe Stakes and Tampa Bay Derby) will also be run on Saturday, but the Gentilly oval hosts the deepest and most intriguing field. The morning line favorite is a two-time winner over this course, Friesan Fire. The handsome son of A.P. Indy has had perfect stalking trips in the Le Comte and Risen Star Stakes leading up to Saturday's test, but many others are very capable of the upset at better odds. Papa Clem will be hammered at the windows after a horse he finished ahead of at Santa Anita (I Want Revenge) came back to demolish the Gotham field at Aqueduct last weekend. While I do like Papa Clem's controlling speed in the race, I'll stay away if the underlay odds situation develops as expected. A horse I am impressed with is Flying Pegasus, who ran a nice second to Friesan Fire last out while being caught wide and returning from a long layoff. The second race back angle may put this son of 2000 Kentucky Derby winner Fusaichi Pegasus in the thick of things. In addition, Terrain's work tab has me thinking that local trainer-extraordinaire Al Stall has the 4th place Breeders' Cup Juvenile finisher cranked up for a big showing over the long stretch of the Fair Grounds course. Whoever your choices may be, you should get some decent odds in the exotics due to the deep field.

At Oaklawn Park, Old Fashioned will try to fend off upstarts Wise Kid and Hamazing Destiny to stay at the top of most Derby watch lists. While Pioneer of the Nile has already chased away most serious competitors on the California circuit and Bob Baffert is looking for an easy win to keep his sights on Churchill Downs.

Good luck at the windows!

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