Five early trends at Fair Grounds for Winter 2022

December 9th, 2022

Winter racing at Fair Grounds has been going since Thanksgiving, but there have already been some notable trends. There will be some regression to the norm as the four-month meet continues, but some of the trends are likely to continue. In particular, one rider who's been in the country less than six months is making an immediate impact and should continue to do so. Here, then, are five trends to note from the start of the Fair Grounds winter meet.

Rodriguez makes immediate impact

There’s a new name in town among the jockey ranks. Jose Luis Rodriguez has only been in the United States since August, having plied his trade in Venezuela and Panama. But after winning five rides from 15 starts prior to the Fair Grounds meet, the 31-year-old has taken New Orleans by storm, winning 11 of his first 46 races to sit equal-top in terms of wins.

Great start for Wilson, with help from Rodriguez

Trainer Shane Wilson has been one of the leading trainers at Fair Grounds in the past two years in terms of number of starters, but hasn’t always had the winners to reflect that; over the previous two seasons, he had 302 starts for 27 wins, a win percentage of 9%. But he’s already on track to do much better this year, having won seven races from 39 starts, a win percentage of 18%. He only needs eight more victories to top his Fair Grounds record. Part of that can be attributed to Wilson teaming up with Jose Luis Rodriguez, with the pair winning four races from 14 starts in the last two weeks.

The only way for Beschizza is up

Adam Beschizza is normally one of the most popular jockeys at Fair Grounds, but he’s had a meeting to forget so far. As of Friday, he’s had 37 rides, a total exceeded by only seven others, but he’s scored just one win to date — a win percentage of just 3% — and only eight top-three finishes, or 22%. Those percentages are bound to bounce back at some point, but it’s worth following his progress to see when he does turn it around.

Calhoun starts strongly

W. Bret Calhoun’s stable normally does well at Fair Grounds, but he’s started like a rocket this season. From 26 starts he’s won eight races, a win percentage of 31%. He’s also way out on top on the earnings table with $373,510, which is $140,000 more than his closest rival. That percentage is highly unlikely to be maintained, but he should be in for a good meet.

Big training guns yet to ramp up

Steve Asmussen and Brad Cox regularly top the earnings lists at Fair Grounds, but they haven’t gotten into full swing just yet. Asmussen has sent just 13 horses to post so far, while it’s even less for Cox, with nine. However, with the stakes races and preps for the Kentucky Derby (G1) and Kentucky Oaks (G1) set to start next week, they should emerge from the pack shortly. Cox has been effective with the runners he’s had, however, winning three of his nine starts.