Fair Grounds will offer a $400,000 guaranteed All-Stakes Pick 4 Saturday (Races 10-13) that wraps up with split divisions of the $400,000 Risen Star (G2), each awarding points on a 50-20-10-5 scale toward a Kentucky Derby berth. Fast and firm conditions are expected.
Here are my thoughts on the sequence:
Race 10 – Fair Grounds S. (G3)
With Wound Tight to scratch, the 1 1/8-mile turf affair lost some pace, and 13 Spectacular Gem can use his tactical foot to avoid going too wide from post 12. The 4-year-old posted his first two stakes wins in wire-to-wire fashion last summer, but he showed his versatility last time when rallying extremely wide from off the pace to just miss in the Dec. 28 Woodchopper. That race served a good setup, and Spectacular Gem has shown an affinity in three starts over the Fair Grounds’ turf. We won’t get his 20-1 morning line odds, but the Jimmy Baker-trained colt should offer decent value with James Graham.
2 Synchrony has run big at Fair Grounds off layoffs, and the classy veteran doesn’t face the stiffest competition here. I will also include 5 Dontblamerocket, who has really come on for Norm Casse and is a candidate to run back to his win in the Jan. 18 Colonel Bradley; 6 Classic Convey, who returns to stakes for Bill Mott after winning his last outing at Belmont; and Colonel Bradley runner-up 12 Midnight Tea Time.
Race 11 – Rachel Alexandra (G2)
I will take a stand against the favorites in the Road to the Kentucky Oaks series event, with British Idiom (90-93) and Finite (90-82) failing to earn strong Brisnet Speed ratings in the last two starts. Ursula grinded her way to a head second after setting the pace in the Silverbulletday last time, but with speed drawn to her inside, trainer Michael Stidham may be looking for more of a finishing kick with a switch back to stalking tactics.
1 His Glory will look to steal the race on the front end. She didn’t make the lead in the Silverbulletday and doesn’t handle slop (Golden Rod [G2]), but she’s run well in a pair of two-turn starts when on the front end. The daughter of Mineshaft dueled from the start of the Pocahontas (G2) before finishing second, and His Glory registered a field-best 96 Brisnet Speed rating when dominating an entry-level allowance at Churchill Downs in late October as lone speed.
Tom Amoss adds blinkers (25% win rate), and Graham is eligible to slow things down on unopposed lead before asking for His Glory’s best.
5 Tempers Rising looks capable of more following a neck third in the Silverbulletday. The Dallas Stewart trainee flashed talent right away but needed racing experience before figuring things out, breaking her maiden nicely at Fair Grounds two back, and she was checked slightly and lost momentum entering the far turn of the Silverbulletday. She proceeded to blow the turn with a seven-wide move into the stretch, and got going again too late in the mile and 70-yard race. Tempers Rising will appreciate the added ground Saturday, and I expect her to keep progressing off the stakes debut with Julien Leparoux back aboard.
4 Impeccable Style looked the part breaking her maiden going away by 2 1/2 lengths at Churchill last out, and the daughter of Uncle Mo appears to training forwardly in preparation with multiple bullet works at Gulfstream. She’s intriguing for Kenny McPeek.
Race 12 – Risen Star (1st division)
The first division came up tougher, with the top three (and five of the first six) from the Jan. 18 Lecomte (G3) back and the promising Blackberry Road making his stakes debut. I will use four of the 11 runners in the Pick 4.
2 Silver State is my top choice. A stoutly bred son of Hard Spun, the Steve Asmussen-trained colt missed the break in the Lecomte and raced far back during the early stages for the first time in three outings. Ricardo Santana Jr. started hustling him on the far turn, and Silver State finally picked up his feet after extracting himself from traffic in upper stretch, closing with good energy. I expect him to settle into a midpack stalking trip here, and parlay a better trip into an improved result.
8 Enforceable turned a corner winning the Lecomte, and I won’t be surprised to see him carry his form forward for Mark Casse. 7 Blackberry Wine has the tactical speed to receive the right trip, and I like the turn of foot he showed turning back a stiff challenge last time to win going away by a length. 6 Shashashakemeup may not be good enough to steal this, but he figures to show high speed from the start and I liked his convincing wire-to-wire maiden win at Churchill last fall. His chances improve if the other expected front-runners take back.
Race 13 – Risen Star (2nd division)
8 Anneau d’Or adds blinkers and Joel Rosario to the saddle, and I don’t see a lot of speed in the second division. The Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (G1) and Los Alamitos Futurity (G2) runner-up should sit an ideal trip up close from the start, and he’s the most likely winner in the sequence in my estimation.
All-Stakes Pick 4 wager (Races 10-13)
- 50-cent Pick 4:
- 2,5,6,12,13 with 1,4,5 with 2,6,7,8 with 8 ($30)