Handicapping maiden races at Fair Grounds Saturday
by Dick Powell
I like maiden races and Fair Grounds finished up its Saturday race card with three of them. The last will be race 13 with a post time of 8:05 p.m. (ET) so it will an early evening diversion.
Sidebar: I know lots of people love visiting Saratoga in the summer time. I love it so much that I moved here in 1984 and love it all year. Except for this morning. Winter hasn’t even officially begun and it was zero degrees this morning. Wind chill temperatures were way below zero overnight and we might see a break on the weekend. Still love Saratoga; just saying. And I hardly leave in the winter. Back to our regularly scheduled writing.
Race 11 kicks off the late Pick 3 at the Fair Grounds and it is an open company maiden special weight six-furlong dirt sprint. DRENA’S STAR intrigues me for Tom Amoss. He was an excellent second in his career debut when he set all the pace to the final yards. So, he has shown that he can overcome the wide draw.
Amoss wins 20% with his debut runners and improves to 23% second-time out. But what intrigues me the most about Drena’s Star is his sire, FIRST SAMURAI, only produces 8% debut runners. If he was by a top first-out sire, it would not get my attention but he ran extremely well for a First Samurai first time starter.
Drena’s Star’s dam is by MUKTADDIM who sires 16% first-out winners and she was a stakes winner of $298K. She was second in her career debut for Tom Amoss at the Fair Grounds in 2009 and then came back to break her maiden second time out here. She was a stakes winner all over the Midwest and was a Fair Grounds horse for the course with three allowance wins to go along with her maiden win. Drena’s Star is her first foal to race.
I will single him to kick off the Pick 3 and then spread out a bit from there. Race 12 is a similar open company maiden special weight event but for juvenile fillies. A full field of 12 is slated to go.
NUCLA has been working lights out for Brad Cox and is the 3 to 1 morning line favorite. She had a bullet workout at Churchill Downs before shipping here then worked a bullet 59 and change to get familiar. Her last breeze was just a maintenance work and she draws post six with Florent Geroux.
Cox wins 19% with his debut runners and her pedigree is very strong for first-out success. Nucla’s dam was a stakes winner at two and she has produced a stakes winner.
Value could come on the far outside with Steve Asmussen’s LADY INTO MISCHIEF. Unlike Brad Cox, Asmussen works his debut horses really slow. It’s the volume and distance of the workouts and this one has two easy breezes here. She has a big-time first-out pedigree being by INTO MISCHIEF out of a dam by MEADOWLAKE that has produced seven winners from seven foals to race; five of whom won at two.
AVA ATTICUS dwelt at the start before rallying for second in her career debut on the synthetic track at Arlington Park back in September. She has trained steadily for this and draws well with James Graham. Hugh Robertson wins 18% second time out and as long as he has cured her gate habits, she could be a contender in here at a price. A wet track would help.
The 13th race is the last leg of the final Pick 3 on the card and it is for Louisiana-bred maiden claimers, fillies and mares, 3 and up, going six furlongs on the dirt. The two morning line chalks look beatable so let’s look elsewhere.
JANE RAN A DOUBLE is making her fourth career start and the first three came against maiden special weight company. She showed some improvement last out in her turf debut when blinkers were added for the first time. Ron Faucheux wins 28% with this maiden dropdown and he is able to get Robby Albarado to hang around for the ride. At this class level, the puzzle pieces rarely fit so even though she looks like six furlongs might be too short, we’ll play her in here against some who look like they will never win.
Play the #10 Drena’s Star to win in the 11th race and use her to kick off the following Late Pick 3:
10 with 3,6,12 with 6,3,4