It’s a case of all roads lead to Fair Grounds today as the track has put on a mammoth 15 race card for this, the penultimate day of the season. The card includes 4 graded races and 5 stakes races worth well over $2m.
The big race on the card is the $1m Louisiana Derby, a Grade 2 race for 3 year olds over 1 1/8 miles and offers a massive 100 Kentucky Derby points to the winner. The key form for this race seems to come from the Risen Star as the first four home in that race reoppose today.
Mo Tom came third in the Risen Star but was checked when making his traditional late charge and has to be counted an unlucky loser. As a result, the Morning Line makes him favorite at 5/2. However, there’s plenty of opposition in the 11 strong field including Greenpointcrusader, who brings a second to Kentucky Derby favourite Mohaymen in the Holy Bull to the party. This is his only run before the “Run for the Roses” but to me the big question is, will he stay the trip as his best form is over shorter than a mile.
Gun Runner (ML 3/1) won the Risen Star and seems to be enjoying the longer spacing between his races. He is three from four although he did finish behind Mo Tom in the Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes. Dazzling Gem makes his stakes debut having won both of his races to date. This is a massive step up in class but his trainer does very well in graded stakes races with this type of horse.
For those looking for some 3 year old distaff action, we have the Fair Grounds Oaks, a Grade 2 over a mile and a sixteenth worth $400k. There are some classy shippers in the race in Land Over Sea and Street Fancy, who have eschewed their local (Santa Anita) Oaks to avoid the mighty Songbird.
Land Over Sea, in particular, has spent most of her racing career running in the wake of Songbird. However, her latest second did earn her a very respectable Beyer of 88, which is significantly better than any of her 7 opponents can offer. Stageplay, the 5/2 ML favorite, has to put a woeful run in the Rachel Alexandra behind her but, to be fair, there were excuses as she had a wide trip on the slowest part of the track,
Other excellent races on the undercard include the New Orleans Handicap where we will witness a fascinating battle between Eagle, International Star and Majestic Harbor, who reoppose after meeting in the Mineshaft.