Our Laurel all-stakes Pick-4 from last Saturday was a mess, but we’ll be back at it this week, tackling the all-stakes Pick-4 at Fair Grounds, capped by the Grade 2 Risen Star Stakes, a Kentucky Derby prep race we broke down here.
We’ll take the sequence in order, starting with…
Race 8 – Mineshaft Stakes (G3) – 4/up, 8.5 furlongs, dirt – This is not an easy race. The favorite is #2 Eagle (5-2), who hasn’t run since the Suburban at Belmont on July 9th. Trainer Neil Howard is 0-22 (5 ITM) in the last five years with at least a 120 day layoff on dirt (DRF Formulator). Plus, this is clearly just a starting point for a horse that could have a pretty solid year. We’ll use but only defensively. Our top pick is #6 Dazzling Gem (5-1). Trainer Brad Cox scratched him out of the Razorback on Monday (won by Grade 1 winner Gun Runner) to run here. Last time in the Louisiana, he made the first off the pace move, a big wide run and was just run down in the last few strides by Hawaakom, who came back to run second in the aforementioned Razorback, improving his Beyer figure to a 101 despite getting defeated soundly by Gun Runner (who ran a 110). This horse has always been cut out to be pretty good and today could be the day for the breakthrough. #7 Honorable Duty (8-1) is our other A horse and ran well against a solid pace when he won the Tenacious on December 19th, though he hasn’t been out since. He is 4-5 on fast dirt and scratched out of the Louisiana presumably because of the muddy track. He also figures to be close up to what might be a moderate pace.
#8 International Star (4-1) is another with a shot but hasn’t run since June. He does have four wins over the track (three in Derby preps in 2015) but he’ll beat us off the long layoff. #3 December Seven (8-1) walked on the lead last time and only earned a 94 Beyer. He’ll need to jump way up. #1 Rise Up (10-1) is the likely pace-setter but is a question at 8.5 furlongs. Still, because he’ll be on the lead, we’ll throw him in underneath. #5 Mo Tom (5-1) is off a long layoff and more importantly is a deep closer that will need a meltdown to win, though should be used underneath in trifectas.
A – 6, 7
B – 1, 2
C – none
Race 9 – Rachel Alexandra Stakes (G2) – 3yo fillies, 8.5 furlongs, dirt – This has traditionally been a useful Kentucky Oaks prep and this is a competitive field of quality horses (non-Unique Bella division). #5 Valadorna (2-1) is the favorite. She won a Keeneland allowance in the fall very nicely and ran well in the (slow) Breeders Cup Juvenile Fillies rallying for second behind a slow pace. Her race in the prep for this, a January 27th allowance, was a fine rallying win, but she had to really work at 1-10 (granted against a loose leader). At a decent price with a good post, we’ll give the nod to #1 Untapped (9-2), a full sister to Untapable. She was 8-5 in the Silverbulletday last time but didn’t run well. We’ll toss it up to the mud and take her back at a bigger price. #2 Farrell (5-2) is the best of the speeds, and she won the aforementioned Silverbulletday last time out after winning the Golden Rod at Churchill Downs on Thanksgiving weekend. She will, however, have to deal with #3 Shane’s Girlfriend (3-1), who ships in from California to avoid Unique Bella. Her claim to fame is a runaway win in the Delta Princess over the bullring at Delta with a 95 Beyer that she hasn’t approached in either of her other two starts.
A – 1, 5
B – none
C – 2, 3
Race 10 – Fair Grounds Handicap (G3) – 4/up, 9 furlongs, turf – There are a few horses in here that have run very well going marathon 11 and 12 furlong distances but I think of those #2 Greengrassofyoming (4-1), third last time in the 12 furlong Connolly at Sam Houston can handle cutting back to 9 furlongs. He just missed #8 Western Reserve (7-2) in the Diliberto on December 17th, but I think going from 8.5 in there to 9 furlongs here could make the difference. Our other A is #6 Enterprising (6-1) who comes off a neck defeat to the talented Our Way last time at Gulfstream in which Enterprising made the first move after the pace-setter only to be run down late. #5 Granny’s Kitten (3-1) won the prep for this but that was with a perfect trip over soft turf on which he is 2-2.
A – 2, 6
B – 8
C – none
Race 11 – Risen Star Stakes (G2) – 3yo, 8.5 furlongs, dirt – Our full analysis can be found here, in which we go horse by horse in our breakdown. Ultimately, we’re going to lean on #2 Untrapped (10-1) and #6 Guest Suite (6-1, likely lower) but won’t get knocked out by #3 Local Hero (4-1) or the favorite, #9 Mo Town (7-2).
Yes, Untrapped, Untapped, Mo Tom, and Mo Town are all running in this pick-4 sequence.
A – 2, 6
B – 3
C – 9
Here’s the play (DRF Ticketmaker)