All-Stakes Pick 4 Analysis for Louisiana Derby Day at Fair Grounds

Profile Picture: Scott Shapiro

March 21st, 2018

Fair Grounds Race Course takes center stage on Saturday afternoon as the meet’s premier event headlines a superb card of racing that commences at 12:30 PM local time.

The drew a competitive field of ten colts led by the top two finishers in the Grade 2 Risen Star last month and Southwest Stakes winner My Boy Jack.  The one million dollar event concludes an all-stakes Pick 4 sequence that gets started in Race 8 with the $400,000 New Orleans Handicap.

Here are my thoughts on the Pick 4 and how I will attack the four-race sequence:

Race 8

The aforementioned Grade 2 New Orleans Handicap kicks things off.

This race comes down to whether anyone is fast enough to put early pressure on #1 The Player.

The son of Street Hero makes his third start of the form cycle after a wire-to-wire victory in the Grade 3 Mineshaft on February 17th. The four and a half length victory earned The Player a 101 BRIS speed rating, which was the second highest of his career. The Player brings a 1 for 2 record in at Saturday’s mile and an eighth distance, but the win did come in the slop.

If Calvin Borel is able to set moderate early fractions in the New Orleans, The Player will be tough to get by late. However, if one of his rivals is ridden aggressively to ensure he does not sneak away then #5 Good Samaritan or long shot #2 Hollywood Handsome could get the best of the Buff Bradley runner in the final furlong.

Race 9

The 26th running of the $300,000 Grade 2 Muniz Memorial Handicap offers handicappers a challenging second leg of the all-stakes Pick 4.

#1 Synchrony is the deserving 7-2-morning line favorite off of his two-length victory in the Grade 3 Fair Grounds Handicap last month. The son of Tapit took advantage of a positive race shape and outkicked runner-up and fellow Muniz Memorial rival #8 Mr. Misunderstood to earn his first graded stakes score.

I respect Synchrony’s chances, but I also have concerns that the Pin Oak Stable runner may regress on Saturday afternoon. Not only did he run a career best 99 BRIS speed rating off a near nine-month layoff, but he also encounters a field that appears lighter on those that do their best running on the front end. This could make it tough for him to get by the entire group late.

I think several can win the 2018 Muniz Memorial Handicap, but my top choice is the aforementioned Mr. Misunderstood. The Flurry Racing Stables LLC gelding should be sitting on a big one in the second start of his four-year-old campaign. Look for jockey Florent Geroux to get the jump on Synchrony and have enough late to “turn the tables” on the morning line chalk.

Race 10

The Grade 2 is up next and I am all in on #8 Wonder Gadot.

The daughter of Medaglia d’Oro was no match for the talented Monomoy Girl in the Grade 2 Rachel Alexandra Stakes, but she appears set to earn her first victory of 2018 on Saturday afternoon.

Jockey John Velazquez should be able to stalk a couple lengths off of morning line favorite #1 Classy Act, make his move on the far turn and get the best of the Bret William Calhoun trainee in the final couple of furlongs. At 3-1 on the line she will be a single on both of my suggested tickets.

Race 11

The featured one million-dollar TwinSpires.com Louisiana Derby ends the sequence.

#9 My Boy Jack is listed as the 5-2-morning line favorite off a win in the mud in the Grade 3 Southwest Stakes at Oaklawn Park. The son of Creative Cause had raced over the turf through all but one race as a two-year-old, but trainer Keith Desormeaux had confidence that his colt could be successful over the dirt as well. He backed his conditioner up with a four and a half length victory in just his second try going a route of ground over the main track.

once again encounters a field with several that do their best running on the front end. That could set things up for his late run, but there are a couple of concerns.

Not only is My Boy Jack’s price going to be significantly lower than it was in the Southwest, but he is likely to see a fast surface instead of a muddy one. Furthermore, jockey Kent Desormeaux worked out a perfect trip up the rail in Arkansas. There is no guarantee that he will be able to save ground and avoid traffic issues from the back in consecutive starts.

In the end, My Boy Jack is my most likely winner in the Louisiana Derby, but if price is taken into account he is tough to get too excited about despite a race shape that should suit his running style. Therefore, I will spread out a bit in the final leg of the all-stakes Pick 4.

Here are my suggested wagers:

Ticket 1 ($1 Pick 4)

Race 8: 1

Race 9: 1+2+4+6+8+9

Race 10: 8

Race 11: 1+2+4+7+8+9

Ticket Cost: $36

Ticket 2 ($1 Pick 4)

Race 8: 1+2+5

Race 9: 8

Race 10: 8

Race 11: 1+2+4+7+8+9

Ticket Cost: $18

Total Budget: $54

Good luck at the big day in New Orleans!