Dick Powell’s Fair Grounds All-Stakes Pick 4 selections

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Jen Caldwell

January 18th, 2019

Fair Grounds is hosting the Lecomte Stakes (G3) on Saturday, which will serve as the final leg of an All-Stakes Pick 4. With 14 runners expected to compete in the Lecomte, this will not be easy with a small ticket. Luckily for us, there is a 50-cent minimum, so at least we can spread out some. The first leg, Race 9, is the Louisiana Stakes for older horses going 1 1/16 miles on the main track. Seven are entered and the morning line only goes up to 8-1, so there are no easy tosses. Six of the seven have strong early speed and the only real closer, Hawaakom (#6) (8-1), looks like he has gone off form at the age of nine. Phat Man (#3) (5-1) was a good winner two starts back in an off-the-turf event, then came back here with a good second in the Tenacious Stakes where he sat behind a fast pace and pulled out to chase the winner home. His edge over the rest of these is slim so we will also use Snapper Sinclair (#1) (9-2), Harlan Punch (#2) (4-1), Silver Dust (#5) (6-1) and Honorable Duty (#7) (5-2). The second leg, Race 10, is the Colonel E. R. Bradley Handicap for older horses going 1 1/16 miles on the turf. The rail has been up all week, so the inside path should have the best footing for this one, weather permitting. Nine are entered but Pioneer Spirit (#9) (8-1) is cross-entered in the Louisiana Stakes. I make the Bradley a two-horse race. Big Changes (#2) (9-2) held well for second two starts back in a Grade 3 at Churchill Downs then was a good second here last out in fast time. From an inside post he has more than enough gate speed to get good position early and, while he loses Florent Geroux, he picks up Joe Bravo, who has been winning at a 28-percent clip riding for Brad Cox. The other horse I like in here is Great Wide Open (#8) (2-1), who has two wins on this course already at the meet and is always dangerous to go gate to wire like he did last out. It should be a cat-and-mouse game between the riders but they can separate themselves from the rest. The third leg, Race 11, is the Silverbulletday Stakes for three-year-old fillies going a mile and 70 yards on the main track. A field of seven is entered and the only one that eliminates herself is Fun Finder (#1) (12-1), who does not look fast enough. This is a tough leg but with the Lecomte being so wide open, it would be nice to be right and I am going out on a limb with Mandy Blue (#7) (9-2). She broke her maiden first time out in modest time from post 11 going six furlongs at Indiana Grand, then came back and beat allowance foes here going two turns in her turf debut. Brad Cox goes back to the dirt for the daughter of Smart Strike and she should be fit and ready at a decent price. Picking up the mount is Florent Geroux, who is 23 percent with his route mounts the past 13 months and they show a flat-bet profit. The finale, Race 12, is the Lecomte Stakes (G3), and by the time they run it the track might be wet from approaching thunderstorms. It is a wide open race both quantitatively and qualitatively, and I am going five deep in here. My top pick is Mr. Money (#4) (5-1) from Bret Calhoun. He was a sharp winner two starts back and ran deceptively well in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (G1). The son of new sire Goldencents has been training lights out, draws well and has enough speed to avoid a major traffic jam. Underneath, in order of preference, I like Mark Casse’s War of Will (#8) (6-1), a turf horse who thrived on the switch to the main track; Chase the Ghost (#10) (12-1), a maiden winner in his two-turn debut here for Dallas Stewart; Tackett (#3) (6-1), winner of two straight, two-turn dirt races here; and Mo Speed (#9) (20-1), winner of an allowance in an off-the-turf event here last out. I am going to use two strategies for this Pick 4. The first spreads out and goes deep in the Lecomte. The other spreads out going all in the Silverbulletday and singles the Lecomte. Ticket A – 50-cent Pick 4 1, 2, 3, 5, 7 with 2, 8 with 7 with 3, 4, 8, 9, 10 = $25 Ticket B – 50-cent Pick 4 1, 2, 3, 5, 7 with 2, 8 with all with 4 = $35 Total Budget = $60 Photo: Big Changes captures the West Virginia House of Delegates Speaker's Cup Stakes at Mountaineer Park on August 4, 2018 (c) Coady Photography/Mountaineer Park