Catching My Eye: Cashing on Hot Barns

March 16th, 2023

They old saying goes when a barn gets hot they could walk the pony over to the starting gate and win. As horseplayers, we crave and fear such scenarios, depending on how we approach the races. If we are watching the meet closely, we can capitalize. If we are popping in and don’t have a feel for what’s going on, we throw our analysis up to the sky crying "how could that horse win that race".

With two weeks to go at Fair Grounds, there is a new leading trainer as Ron Faucheux won his 33rd race of the meet on Sunday, March 12, capping off an eight-win week. Surely each runner from the perennial high-percentage trainer went off near favoritism, right? Wrong. Faucheux has gone 14 for 29 over the last three weeks with a $4.37 ROI. Let’s take a look at the winners and payouts of a hot streak that could be the storybook cornerstone to three trainer titles in a row for Faucheux.

Wednesday, March 8

Veterans Day made the most of his sophomore debut, beating a strong field for the $20,000 maiden claimers. He overcame a bump to find his stride off the pace and make a game bid to split horses for the 2-length win. His lone previous outing was as a juvenile in a maiden special weight, and even with this class-drop, bettors let him go at 4-1. He improved 19 points for a 78 Brisnet Speed figure.

The 4-year-old Northern Reflection was one of five class-droppers to get it done for Faucheux last week. In the third start of his form cycle, the four-year-old was moved from the turf to dirt and had enough late kick to come from 8th to win it by a head in the final stride.

Moving a touch up in class, Shesabeautydancer wired the field of nine $25,000 claimers in Wednesday’s finale. Even with Florent Geroux up, the statebred filly paid 4.90-1 as the fourth choice, the biggest price of the week on one of Faucheux’s winners.

Thursday, March 9

With only a maiden victory over a sloppy track to hang his hat on, Half Magic entered the first of the day as the main front-running threat, which he was able to capitalize on, going wire-to-wire as the 4-5 favorite. Easy enough, and what you would readily expect in terms of price and performance from the two-time leading trainer.

Faucheux sealed the deal on the early daily double when Comanche Warrior sat off a sharp first-time starter through the first call and then drove to pull away by nearly five lengths. In his second start, his first as a three-year-old, the son of Yockey’s Warrior improved 10 points to earn a 78 Brisnet Speed figure.

Faucheux was high on Comanche Warrior as a two-year-old, but the horse debuted against a tough field and was stuck wide, resulting in defeat and a low speed figure. This was one of three of the week’s victories by a stakes-caliber three-year-old making their sophomore debut.

Friday, March 10

Not on Herb went off just shy of 4-1 as the 4th choice in Race 5, a non-winners of three allowance on Friday. Even though he broke out, hustled into the teeth of a sharp pace, and fought his rider a bit coming home, he still managed to win by one length.

Not on Herb (a nod to the New Orleans Pelicans young forward Herb Jones) won the Peluso Memorial as a two-year-old, but then failed to show well in the Champions Day Juvenile in December. Faucheux benched him and waited for the right spot, and though still green, he was fresh and fit enough to beat a strong field of three-year-old stakes-caliber statebreds. He earned a 79 Brisnet Speed figure, a point shy of his two-year-old top, which he should be able to improve off of nicely. Look out for him across the Louisiana circuit this summer.

Saturday, March 11

In terms of speed figures, Faucheux’s most impressive runner was Royal O’Haigain, who won the first of the day on Saturday. With the blinkers removed and Corey Lanerie up, the El Deal four-year-old sped off to the front and continued to pile it on to win by 11 1/2 lengths and earn a 91 Brisnet Speed figure. Making a precipitous class drop, Royal O’Haigain beat a field of $20,000 claimers and paid 30-cents on the dollar. He was not claimed, and he can definitely beat better.

Sunday, March 12

Royal Unlimited had dropped from the protected ranks to face $20,000 maiden claimers but couldn’t get it done in his previous race. Would dropping to the $10,000 level be low enough? You know it. Royal Unlimited put Faucheux on top and put $4.50 in the pockets of his backers for every dollar bet.