Exotics Plays for the 2024 Fair Grounds Stakes

February 15th, 2024

A deep field of 12 will travel nine furlongs on the lawn in Saturday’s $175,000 Fair Grounds S. (G3). The well-matched cast lacks a true standout and I’ll go with a few value runners in the grassy event. 

Fair Grounds Exotics

  • $4 exacta key box 2 with 1,4,12 ($24)
  • $2 exacta box 1,2,4,12 ($24)
  • 50-cent trifecta 2 with 1,4,12 with all ($15)
  • 50-cent trifecta 1,4,12 with 2 with all ($15) 

#2 Chasing the Crown will make his stakes debut in the contest and I expect him to be a major player in the stretch for conditioner Mike Maker. The five-year-old was last seen powering home with excellent energy to topple allowance foes in his first run on the course, and the son of Skipshot brings fantastic form to the field with six consecutive top-two finishes leading up to this run.

The Kentucky-bred chestnut possesses tactical speed but has been doing his best work late in recent outings, and he figures to take back some in the early going prior to unleashing his robust late burst. Jareth Loverbrry will guide the top pick. 

#4 Rising Empire sports a 6-2-2-1 mark on the local surface and rates an obvious chance in the race for trainer Brendan Walsh. The six-year-old son of Empire Maker hasn’t been a major factor in two stakes races in succession at the meeting, but his best is good enough to challenge this cast, and I also expect the dark bay to be much more involved in the early stages on this day, as well. He will be a square number with Luis Saez in the irons. 

#12 English Tavern was third in the event in 2023 and could fill a similar spot at a big price this campaign for conditioner Michelle Lovell. By English Channel, the seven-year-old chestnut has placed on the course in three of six local runs to date, and I will give him a pass for his subpar effort last time out. The Kentucky-bred gelding has the early foot to secure a decent position early despite drawing widest of all, and Jaime Torres retains the ride aboard the longshot. 

Norm Casse’s #1 Johny’s Fireball has improved his Brisnet Speed figure in three races in succession and closed well into a slow pace to be a stakes fourth at this venue in his 2023 finale. The Tonalist six-year-old has been working well as of late led by a bullet half-mile drill most recently, and the chestnut has a versatile running style to give Ricardo Santana options into the first turn, as well.