Scully: Fair Grounds All-Stakes Pick 5 play on Louisiana Derby Day

March 24th, 2023

Saturday’s $1 million Louisiana Derby (G2) anchors a $500,000 guaranteed all-stakes Pick 5 at Fair Grounds, and I’ll take a swing at the sequence.

Race 8 – Tom Benson Memorial Stakes

Unbeaten from a pair of U.S. starts last summer, multiple Group 1 Argentinean winner #6 Didia rates as a major contender for Nacho Correas, but I lack the confidence to single off the seven-month layoff. I’ll include last year’s winner, #8 She Can’t Sing, for Chris Block, who leads all Fair Grounds trainers with five turf wins, and play #3 Trail Ridge Road in all multi and vertical exotic wagers.

Also trained by Block, Trail Ridge Road opened her racing career last June and won a couple of turf starts, including a restricted stakes at Hawthorne, before being freshened last fall. The four-year-old has come on since switching to Fair Grounds turf, recording an allowance win and a rallying third in the Feb. 18 Albert Stall Memorial S., and the fast-closing filly may receive a favorable set-up with Joel Rosario.

Race 9 – New Orleans Classic (G2)

Taking a stand against #2 Art Collector, who received a favorable outside stalking trip when upsetting the Pegasus World Cup (G1), but must work out a trip from an inside post (2) with speed to both sides in the gate. #1 Treasury and #3 West Will Power should ensure a solid pace, and I’ll use a trio of late runners: #5 Rattle N Roll, #6 Happy American, and #7 Mr. Wireless.

Juvenile Grade 1 winner Rattle N Roll began to turn things around last summer, reeling off multiple stakes wins and netting triple-digit Brisnet Speed and Late Pace numbers in the last three outings, and he’s eligible to show more at age four. I’ll look for Rattle N Roll to make a stretch impact with Brian Hernandez Jr.

Race 10 – Muniz Memorial Classic (G2)

#1 Atone enters in good form with speed to spare, and he’s eligible to take it to #6 Two Emmys from the start of the 1 1/8-mile turf affair. I’ll side against the top two choices on the morning line.

#5 Spooky Channel, a convincing stakes winner at Fair Grounds two back, didn’t receive the right trip when winding up on the early lead in the John Connally (G3) at Sam Houston last out, finishing a close third. He’ll look to settle just off the frontrunners and pounce in the lane with Joel Rosario. I’ll also use #3 Gentle Soul, who will be running late for Bret Calhoun, Grade 3 winner #7 Another Mystery for Block, and #8 Tiz the Bomb off a troubled trip in his comebacker.

Race 11 – Fair Grounds Oaks (G2)

#5 Hoosier Philly spit the bit by the conclusion of the far turn after breaking poorly and being bottled up in traffic along the inside along the backstretch of the Rachel Alexandra (G2), never striding out as she shuffled home through the stretch. She’s capable of better in my estimation, and I’ll take a stand with the projected favorite in the Kentucky Oaks qualifier.

Race 12 – Louisiana Derby (G2)

#2 Instant Coffee captured the Kentucky Jockey Club (G2) at Churchill Downs, but the workmanlike performance left questions about his quality entering 2023. He appeared to move forward significantly when returning in the Jan. 21 Lecomte (G3), displaying improved tactical speed behind a contested pace before overpowering rivals with his turn of foot, and I won’t be surprised to see the long-striding colt continue to show more in the Louisiana Derby. He tops a deep roster of Brad Cox-trained Kentucky Derby contenders.

It will be interesting to see what kind of positioning Instant Coffee establishes in the early stages. There doesn’t appear to be much speed signed on, and I give #1 Shopper’s Revenge the best chance at an upset if he breaks running. The gray colt has missed the break in two of three starts, but Shopper’s Revenge recorded a sharp wire-to-wire maiden win at Oaklawn the lone time he got out of the gate. He shows a recent bullet work from the gate, trainer Steve Asmussen said he expects him to show speed, and I’ll save with Shopper’s Revenge at an expected price.

50-cent all-stakes Pick 5 ticket: 3,6,8 with 5,6,7 with 3,5,7,8 with 5 with 1,2 = $36