Catching My Eye: Prices at Fair Grounds March 6 - March 10

March 14th, 2024

Prices were coming home last week at Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots. Here’s a look at some of the top performers who outran their odds. With two weeks to go in the meet, hopefully there is more of the same. 

Average Win Payout $15.58 on Wednesday, March 6

On Wednesday in Race 8, the three-year-old Higgins Boat walked over from New Orleans native Tom Amoss’ barn and won his first race from four starts. Owned by Ensemble Racing, which includes the Pelicans’ very own play-by-play announcer Joel Meyers, Higgins Boat had yet to cross the finish line first, though he tipped his talent in an impressive local debut on the Road to the Derby Preview Day undercard.

Settling early to make one late run, Higgins Boat offered a game late bid to nose out several rivals, winning at 16-1. Jockey Edgar Morales showed his strong arms, urging the son of Omaha Beach to extend ahead of the finish line. Higgins Boat got a 79 Brisnet Speed figure, matching his nice fourth-place finish to Bee Dancer, Cornishman, and Exploration on the Lecomte undercard.

Amoss had a big week, winning five races, including saddling Ba Dee Yah for his third consecutive $100,000 Allen “Black Cat” LaCombe. 

Average Win Payout $14.74 on Thursday, March 7

Having finished second to Next Level and Mosaico Man, then beat soundly by Hall of Fame and Antiquarian in his last two, it had seemed like Funnyflame had some talent, but doubts were creeping in. Making a surface switch to the sod, they let him go at 7-1 against a nice field of three-year-olds with established turf form in race 9 on Thursday. 

Stalking the leader Drobny, Funnyflame had no problem passing that rival in the stretch, but would he get lost on the lead and wait for them to come back to him as he had before? No sir--the son of Flameaway trained by Shane Wilson was game for the four-length win. So maybe blinkers weren’t what was needed, simply the surface switch for him to produce his late kick.

It was just a $30,000 maiden claiming sprint but Nonchalant could be good. At 9-2 the three-year-old wired the field in race 3, beating out the 2-5 favorite Auto Dial and running a 92 Brisnet Speed figure on second asking.

The son of Justify out of the Lemon Drop Kid mare Unspurned has obviously looked the part at sales, as he was purchased for $400,000 at the 2022 Fasig-Tipton New York Saratoga Select Yearling sale. Larry Rivelli entered him for a debut tag, Broberg claimed him, and then got credit for Nonchalant’s first win. Now, Fair Grounds’ soon-to-be-crowned top trainer Shane Wilson has got him in his hands. Even though Nonchalant’s dam was 0 for 2 on grass, she was a grade 3 winner sprinting on an all-weather track. With Justify on top/Lemon Drop Kid on the bottom, I’d expect we see Nonchalant on the turf given Wilson’s solid 16% win percentage on that surface over the last five years.

Average Win Payout $11.30 on Friday, March 8

Named in honor of retired jockey Ray Sibille, Racy Bille stole the fifth race on Friday’s card. Overlooked by the bettors to the tune of 11-1, Racy Bille romped to win by over ten lengths. Loving the sloppy main track, the chestnut four-year-old stalked the leader until the top of the stretch where Racy Bille engaged Shawn’s Solving, put the front runner away, and did not stop, pouring it on late under jockey C.J. McMahon.

Earning a 79 Brisnet Speed figure, the son of Gormley has always shown talent but is now realizing it as a four-year-old. Trained by Lonnie Briley, Racy Bille’s namesake won 4,264 races between 1976 and 2004, including the prestigious Breeders’ Cup Turf with Great Communicator in 1988.

Average win payout $10.85 on Sunday, March 10

Taking on winners for the first time, the Louisiana-bred Battalion Strike owned by Amy Singh backed up his last-out maiden score with a huge effort to win race 6 on Sunday’s card, a non-winners of two allowance. Outrunning his 10-1 odds, the four-year-old overcame a tough start, saved ground towards the back of the pack, and rallied up the rail of the homestretch under jockey Rohan Singh. 

Trained by Darla Singh, Battalion Strike has wins over the turf and the dirt. The 81 Brisnet Speed figure earned in this one combined with how this guy has looked in the paddock--strong, confident, and game-faced--tells me the Singhs have a runner we need to continue to take seriously.