Scully: Guest Suite, Iron Fist key to Fair Grounds All-Stakes Pick 4

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April 1st, 2017

The $1 million Louisiana Derby (G2) anchors an All-Stakes Pick 4 (races 8-11) on a 15-race Fair Grounds program and Guest Suite is my top choice. He will be a key for my Pick 4 tickets along with Iron Fist in the New Orleans (G2).

Here are my thoughts on the sequence:

Race 8, New Orleans: #2 Iron Fist (6-1 morning line) has always been a promising type but not good enough for the upper echelon in past years. The gelding could be poised for a breakthrough at age 5. After opening 2017 on a wet track he didn’t like, the Steve Asmussen trainee recorded outstanding win in the February 25 Maxxam Gold Cup, registering a career-best 104 BRIS Speed rating while easily defeating Fear the Cowboy, who came back to win the Skip Away (G3) at Gulfstream by open lengths. Iron Fist draws a better post (2) for his third start off the layoff and should be forwardly-placed under David Flores. I expect him to make it two straight. Will save on one ticket with #1 Breaking Lucky (8-1), #3 International Star (6-1) and #10 Eagle (6-1).

Race 9, Muniz Memorial (G2): Mike Maker has four of the 11 entrants and I’m giving #6 Granny’s Kitten (6-1) a slight edge following a troubled trip in the Fair Grounds H. (G3). #11 Special Ops (15-1) is an interesting price horse – he’s crushed rivals in his last two over the Fair Grounds turf and I won’t be surprised to see him carry his form forward on the class hike – but the Brad Cox runner must overcome the widest post. I will spread seven-deep on the main tickets in the contentious turf affair.

Race 10, Fair Grounds Oaks (G2): #6 Farrell (#6) exits a strong win in the Rachel Alexandra (G2) and looks more than capable of making it three straight at Fair Grounds. But the possibility remains the speedy filly could be softened up on the front end and #5 Vexatious (6-1) will be looking to mow down the likely odds-on favorite in the stretch. Trained by Neil Drysdale, who wins at a 16% clip with shippers, the bay filly offered a nice middle move to loom a threat at the top of the stretch last time versus male rivals, finishing third to Battle of Midway and Reach the World in a Santa Anita allowance. Those rivals both have a chance in the Santa Anita Derby (G1) and represent much tougher company than she’ll be facing here. I expect her to be running late.

Race 11, Louisiana Derby: #6 Guest Suite isn’t a dead closer – the stalker likes to race in midpack – but the gelding broke slowly and dropped far back during the early stages of the Risen Star (G2), travelling ridiculously wide on both turns as well. I liked the way he passed half the field in the final furlongs for fourth, registering the same 93 BRIS Speed rating he registered easily winning the Lecomte (G3) at Fair Grounds two back, and am expecting an improved showing today. Will save with #1 Patch (9-2) and #8 Girvin (8-5). Patch still has much to prove, stretching out to two turns for the first time off a maiden win. Risen Star winner Girvin may receive right set-up again, but I fear the 1 1/8-mile distance could catch up to the heavy favorite who counts Cocked and Loaded as a half-brother.

Tickets (Races 8-11)

With a $50 budget, I will play the following 50-cent Pick 4 tickets:

2 with 1,4,5,6,8,10,11 with 5,6 with 1,6,8 ($21)
1,3,10 with 1,4,5,6,,8,10,11 with 5,6 with 6 ($21)
2 with 1,6,10,11 with 2,3,4,8 with 6 ($8)

Good luck Saturday! is offering a $5,000 Pick 4 Bonus at Fair Grounds Saturday. Make sure to “Opt In” and if you cash a winning ticket on any Pick 4, you’ll split $5,000 with all the other winners on TwinSpires. And has free Ultimate Past Performances for the Louisiana Derby.

Be sure to follow @VPHanson and @TwinSpires for on-site coverage of Louisiana Derby Day