Fair Grounds: Stakes spot plays for Jan. 16

Profile Picture: J. Keeler Johnson

January 13th, 2021

Think the Lecomte (G3) is the only race of note on Saturday at Fair Grounds? Think again!

Six stakes races are on the agenda, including the Louisiana (G3) and the Silverbulletday S. The latter is the first of three Road to the Kentucky Oaks prep races that will take place at Fair Grounds this winter, and the race has drawn a strong field.

Let’s dig in and play these important undercard stakes on a $50 budget.

Race 10: Louisiana (G2, 5:23 p.m. ET)

This competitive, 1 1/16-mile event for older horses has drawn a deep field, with 2020 Louisiana Derby (G2) winner #8 Wells Bayou and recent Tenacious S. runner-up #9 Sonneman among the obvious contenders.

But I’m going to take a shot outside the box with #4 Blackberry Wine.

Although not the most consistent horse in training, Blackberry Wine has shown flashes of talent throughout his career. On Dec. 13, in his second start off a six-month layoff, Blackberry Wine employed pace-pressing tactics to dominate a 1 1/16-mile allowance at Fair Grounds by 5 1/2 lengths, which earned a 97 Brisnet Speed rating.

There isn’t much pace in the Louisiana field, so Blackberry Wine should enjoy a perfect trip stalking Wells Bayou through modest early fractions. I’m willing to bet the son of Oxbow can pounce to the front and spring a surprise.

$20 to win on #4 Blackberry Wine
$5 exacta: 4 with 8,9 ($10)
Total: $30

Race 12: Silverbulletday S.  (6:20 p.m. ET)

Many bettors will throw their support behind #9 Sun Path. The daughter of Munnings has dominated her last two starts for trainer Brad Cox, including a 1-mile and 70-yard allowance at Fair Grounds. At the same distance as the Silverbulletday, Sun Path tracked the pace and roared clear to win by 12 3/4 lengths.

But #1 Souper Sensational could put up a fight. The daughter of Curlin is bred to excel running long on dirt, so the fact that she went undefeated in two starts sprinting on Tapeta at Woodbine last season is significant. The Mark Casse-trained filly has yet to be seriously challenged and threw down a 90 Brisnet Speed rating when she cruised by four lengths in the 7-furlong Glorious Song S.

Souper Sensational missed a scheduled start in the Nov. 22 Mazarine S., when the Woodbine meet ended prematurely because of the COVID-19 pandemic, so she will enter the Silverbulletday off an unexpectedly long layoff. But Souper Sensational clearly has a lot of talent, and if she steps forward in her dirt and two-turn debut, she can spring an upset against Sun Path.

$20 exacta: 1 with 9

Good luck!