The GII “Louisiana Derby” makes its contribution to the “Derby Trail” this weekend!

The Fair Grounds readies for its big race day of the year!

The Fair Grounds is running its final Derby prep race of 2011 meet in the GII $1,000,000, Louisiana Derby for 13 Derby contenders, going 1 1/8 mile on Saturday!

This Saturday is, by definition, what a big race day is all about. The Fair Grounds will host multiple Stakes and Graded Stakes contests, Millions of dollars in purse money with big-time thoroughbred racing action. The savvy handicapper can do very well on such days  like this as big race days always brings good value to every race with full fields!

So lets meet this field of 13 mighty steeds, who are all looking for a big payday, a big Graded stakes win and a Kentucky Derby gate in the Fair Grounds premiere race of their 2011 racing season.

At 9/5 is the Morning Line favorite in Mucho Macho Man. This son of Macho Uno won last month’s GII Risen Star here at the Fair Grounds at 1 1/16 mile distance that he covered in a nice 1: 43 and 4/5. His last four starts have all been in Graded Stakes events and he has run with some of the best 3yos in the country in all those outings. So he seems to be the one to beat here on Saturday. So he should be your first thought in your exotics thinking but just box him up in all your plays as any kind of board hit here Saturday should find him a gate in Louisville on May 7th.

At 7/2, 6/1 and 8/1 respectively are the other single-digit odds contenders for this million dollar purse in Machen, Elite Alex and Wilkinson.

Machen is a son of Distorted Humor and a grandson to More Than Ready. The word that might describe his short career so far would be “Rushed”. His connections seem to be pushing him along at an exhilarated rate to bring him to this big event. He does have the stair-steps up with MSW and Alw wins but he finished a somewhat unimpressive and late-breaking 4th in that Risen Star contest here last month and took a lot of money as a co-favorite in that tilt. Someone down here in Cajunland thinks very highly of this 3yo with such short odds but 7/2 comes across as real “gifty” to us. He better hit the board here Saturday cause these old boys down here think the world of him. Perhaps the 1 1/8 might help this closer here on Saturday but we’d put him at the back-end of a tri or super as that might be the smart play with him.

Elite Alex, son of Afleet Alex begged off the Rebel Stakes last Saturday to take a shot at the bigger purse money here but with only a 3 race career, none over a mile, gives us some pause. Yes, he has hit the board in all 3 starts but his only win was a 5f Msw. Can he go the distance here? Well his pedigree says so, but he feels rushed to us, as well.  6/1 is just ok to us and maybe Calvin can work some magic with him and get him to improve over that 3rd in the Southwest Stakes last month. Tri’s and supers here for him too!

Wilkinson, at least has a graded stakes win here in the Le Comte back in late January and does hit the board everytime out but that’s a long layoff for this bang-bang “Derby Trail”season. So well-rested is the best descriptor here for Wilkinson on Saturday, so that 1 1/8 mile shouldn’t be a tall order. If he can rate, a board hit seems right to us here. Any exotic play has our blessing here for him!

At 10/1 is Nacho Business in a probable paired-entry with stablemate Pants on Fire and  Left!

Left, is another son of Arch with just a pair of stair-step wins on his resume, is jumping into big-time racing in this GII tilt. Supers only for him as the 1 1/8 distance with no graded stakes experience is a load he might not bear!

Pants on Fire did everything but win the Le Comte here back in January as he lead the entire race, just to be nosed out, at the line, by Wilkinson that day. If he rates just a bit here on Saturday a 3rd or 4th finishing might be in the cards. If he goes out fast, he’ll be all done by the 1/8 pole, watching everyone who rated go by him. You decide supers or not! 10/1 is good value here!

Nacho Business is a son of Rahy and does have a 2nd in a 1 1/8 mile Alw test here last month on his 2 race resume. Wouldn’t call him a Dark Horse pick here but he could come late to pickup the super spot in a “picking up the pieces” effort.

At 12/1 is Majestic Harbor has but a maiden win in 3 starts to his credit with the win coming in his last outing, around 2-turns and over this strip! Seems a bit out of place here in a million dollar contest but if he can find the 4th spot, $50,000 would be a fine days work. Supers only and only if you must!

At 20/1, 30/1 and 50/1 are the remainer of this class of 2011 in Mavericking, Le mans, Nehro, Populist Politics and Liondrive! These are all msw winners only or less except Polulist Politics who does own a 2yo stakes win and a recent 2nd showing in the Gentilly Stakes here late last month at 1 1/16. We probably won’t use anyone in this group, but a flyer on Populist Politics in one of your super might work but don’t trust to hope !

So we like Mucho Macho Man, Wilkinson, Machen, Pants on Fire, team-mate Nacho Busniness in a 2fer and Elite Alex mixed up on tri’s and supers.

But for a million dollar race, we had hoped for a deeper field here Saturday!

So it will be a huge day at the Fair Grounds this Saturday and if you put your mind to it you just might have a great day there on Saturday. It should be a “ragin-cajun” day!

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“Hilda’s Passion” blazes in GII “Inside Information” Stakes!

Want to see two track records broken in one race, then watch this race replay below!

“Hilda’s Passion” breaks the 6f mark at 1:07.98 here (but it doesn’t count as this was a 7f race) but does break the 7f mark with a 1:20.45 clocking a new 7f mark at Gulfstream Park! I think we found our older lady sprinter to bank on this year with Hilda’s Passion!

“Havre de Grace” finally gets by “Blind Luck” in GIII “Azeri Stakes”!

 

Harve de Grace finishing off Blind Luck!

In this, their 5th meeting, Havre de Grace finally put the ghosts of losing to Blind Luck to rest yesterday, in the GIII “Azeri Stakes” for 4yos & up, going 1 1/16 mile, for a nice purse of $150k, with Absintheminded taking 3rd out on the Oaklawn Park main track!

Havre de Grace, now under the tutelage of trainer Larry Jones, sat a cool 4th in this race’s early panels, just stalking the pace set by Absintheminded with Blind Luck loping along in her usual trailing template!

Havre de Grace moved up on the far turn to catch, past and drew off on Absintheminded who held on for 3rd and powered home to win by 3 1/4 lengths over Blind Luck who came storming from last on the far turn, down the center of track, to get up for only a 2nd place showing here yesterday!

Some take-away’s to ponder from this contest!

The Hollendorfer crew can stop complaining about that fast Santa Anita surface, your girl couldn’t get up in time to win here either. Maybe she has lose a step or two, maybe going all in at the end works every time but once, like in ‘Texas Hold’em’ or maybe she’s just been watching too many Zenyatta training films!

Either way, take your 30k here and wait for next month’s Apple Blossom at a longer 1 1/8 distance and if Santa Anita isn’t your brand of vodka. Ok. the Apple Blossom and the Louisville Handicaps are coming up soon, try her in these classic contests! We need all the good 4yo fillies we can get here!

Harve de Grace hasn’t heard the last of Blind Luck this year, even if they manage to avoid one another all season a Breeders Cup Ladies Classic meeting would seem to be in the cards, right now! So Mr. Jones get your girl ready for Louisville in the Fall!

So our picks worked out just fine here with these two coming in as your 1’s and 2’s and if you mixed in a little Absintheminded or Tidal Pool at the back of your tri’s or supers then we didn’t do you wrong here on Saturday!

So we’ll take our props and move on to next Saturday’s busy race day with the Big Dubai World Cup races from the Meydan Racecourse where Gio Ponti will try his hand again in their $10,000,000 dust-up!

The$1 millionLouisiana Derby from the Fairgrounds is also up along with the $500kVinery Racing Spiral Stakes from Turfway Park with some great Stakes and Graded Stakes action, from well just about everywhere.

Remember, there’s only 5 more Saturday’s until the “Run for the Roses” commences. So if you’ve got a 3yo out there, they better be running soon or you can watch the Derby from the comfort of your stall!

 “See race replay below”!

“The Factor” goes gate to wire in GII “Rebel Stakes” win!

The Factor goes wire to wire in GII Rebel Stakes!

“The Factor”  had a  dominating win today in the GII $300,000, Rebel Stakes at Oaklawn Park today.

With Martin Garcia riding for trainer Bob Baffert, The Factor, as the favorite,  finished the 1 1/16 miles in 1:42.19 over a fast track, showing he can go 2-turns and win.

The Factor, son of War Front, set good early fractions of 23.33, 46.77, and 1:10.98  as he held and then lengthen that lead to a final margin of about six lengths, with Caleb’s Posse, a 24-1 shot, finishing second and a neck back further for 3rd was Archarcharch. Sway Away, the big second choice, was never in this race at anytime!

This scratch laden race of an original 13 entries found early scratches in – Dreaminofthewin, Elite Alex, and Glint – while Alternation, acted up in the gate, leading him to being scratched late. The start was delayed for about 10 minutes because of his antics.

So what can we take away from this race?

Well, “The Factor” can go 2-turns, on the lead, at 1 1/16 mile as he just plain wore out everyone today here with those hot early factions. I don’t think even a young Rachel Alexandra would have been able to keep up with that kind of early heat. But this isn’t Churchill Downs with  1 1/4 mile to be run while being bumped by 19 other 3yo runners. That winner circle appearance is still far off yet.

So look for The Factor next in the Santa Anita Derby or right here in the Arkansas Derby either way he will have to try that front-running act over 1 1/8 next time. Can he do it, we think so but only time will tell.

So with this big splash of his here today, I can just read it now an East Vs. West showdown with “Uncle Mo” taking on” The Factor“,  in America’s biggest race, a true Derby Slugfest, with $2 million in prize money up for grabs! It’s a  horse racing blogger’s dream come true!

Get ready everyone, the 3yo wheat has now been separated from the chaff and we’ve only big time 3yo Derbys left to be run here in the heart of the”Derby Trail” season! It’s going to get wild from here on out, so buckle up out there everyone “ Dangerous 3yo curves ahead“!

See Race replay below!