Making money with favorites in the Fair Grounds Saturday stakes

Profile Picture: John Mucciolo

February 26th, 2021

A pair of black-type events on the turf will lead the way at Fair Grounds on Saturday. I believe that each of the morning-line choices will be formidable in the races, but there is money to be made in the vertical gimmicks if my handicapping is on point.

Here is how I will attack the co-features:

Dixie Poker Ace S.

A field of 10 Cajun-breds will travel one mile in the turf test. #2 Ninety One Assault (5-2) sports a superb 10-7-1-2 mark on the course, and he was a facile winner of the event in 2020, as well. The Tom Morley trainee capped last season off with a stakes win on the Fair Grounds lawn, and it will be difficult to hold off the eight-year-old son of Artie Schiller inside the final furlong on Saturday. Shaun Bridgmohan has the call.

I will look to a pair of contenders who drew wide to complete my vertical plays. #8 Treys Midnite Moon (8-1) possesses a strong late kick and brings fine form to the race for conditioner Corale Richards. Neko Bay gelding is a three-time winner at Fair Grounds, and he is capable on both firm ground and footing with some give to it. He will stalk the pace early under Pedroza.

Keith Austin’s #9 Budro Talking (8-1) never factored in an off-the-turf contest most recently, and that subpar performance should aid his price in this spot. The stout one-run closer was stuck behind a dawdling pace when sixth in the race last season, but I believe that he is a better animal now, and I expect him to get a more realistic pace to run at on Saturday. Declan Carroll retaining the mount is a positive.


  • $15 Exacta: 2 with 8,9 ($30)
  • $1 Superfecta: 2 with 8,9 with 8,9 with all ($12)

Black Gold S.

An especially well-matched field of nine sophomores will run 1 1/16 miles on the green in a tough handicapping assignment. And while I don’t feel great about siding with the morning-line choice in a high-quality cast, I can’t get past the improvement shown by #6 Palazzi (7-2) for Mark Casse.

The expensive son of Pioneerof the Nile moved to the lawn and added blinkers two back, and he has morphed into a new horse. The John Oxley colorbearer was a superb maiden winner at Fair Grounds prior to gamely taking the Texas Turf Mile S. in his debut with winners most recently. Declan Carroll will guide the bay and run them down in the stretch once again.

I can make a decent case for each contender in the field to complete the gimmicks, including #7 Ghostlighter (12-1), the co-longest shot on the board. The Brendan Walsh trainee showed little on the dirt in a recent allowance tilt, but his pedigree is all turf and a major move forward is expected second off the bench. He will get a contested pace to rally into late, and I will key him in underneath in the exotics searching for value.


  • $2 Trifecta: 6 with 7 with all ($14)
  • $2 Trifecta: 6 with all with 7 ($14)