With the Pick 5 priced at 15% and a new non-jackpot at 15% for the Pick 6, the price is right to allocate more of your capital to the Fairs in this encounter. Here are some things to know about the Louisiana track and circuit to help you sharpen your edge.
The 1,380-foot straight at the Fair Grounds is a roller coaster of emotions for bettors – one minute you’re sure the top favorite has the field to himself, the next you’re gritting your teeth and sweating your schedule. However, the speed is maintained. This will change though, and when it doesn’t, you’d better switch the handicap with it.
Like any play, if you want to access, you have to watch, take notes, get into the rhythms of the meeting and get that intuitive feeling for runners and connections. But if you don’t follow the Louisiana circuit year-round, you’ll be left guessing about a lot of entries.
The Louisiana-grown program is strong. There is money so many riders can make a living staying in the state, competing at Delta Downs, Evangeline Downs and Louisiana Downs. There are many stakes for Louisiana breeders and therefore many types of runners. It is essential to know the difference between those who reach and those who belong.
Delta Downs runs concurrently with Fair Grounds until the end of February. If you don’t watch him, a night with Don Stevens and you’ll be hooked – he’s sharp, witty and calls one hell of a race. A bullring track with a longer course, it is essential to know that all races run 6 1/2 furlongs or longer are two-turn races. Horses will go back and forth between Delta and Fair Grounds, so you can’t rely on your auto-generated previous performances for sprint trainer stats.
Louisiana Downs and Evangeline Downs overlap during the summer. Both offer turf racing. Both races are shortened and play similarly to dirt. Keep this in mind as we see turf shaped entries from every track to the dirt track at Fair Gounds. It is often translated.
Throughout the circuit, some trainers have their jockeys and that’s it. Others will ride one of the low-scoring or younger players when they are not trying to win the race, but will secure a top game when their horse is alive. Keep an eye out for jockey changes. However, trainers such as Jose Camejo, Ron Faucheux and Wayne Catalano will use who trained the horse, less successful jockeys they are loyal to or whoever is in the room when the entries are drawn.
Many of these levels on the Louisiana-bred circuit look like cheap company, but there are classy and talented horses in these fields that the race conditions are written for. You’ll see stakes-caliber horses rounding in and out of lower-level races and vice versa, with connections making a swing. It’s worth taking a look at past running lines to understand some of these runners.
There are exceptions, but for the most part it’s the same cast of characters rotating through the circuit. Some prepare for the Fair, others couldn’t care less. Let’s talk about who indicates this meeting.
Târg de Târg trainers and jockeys to know
Trainer of 1997 Kentucky Oaks (G1) winner Blushing KD, Sam David Jr. does most of his work with the home breeders of father-son-and-friend team Earl and Keith Hernandez and John Duvieilh. They have been breeding to race for over 20 years and always produce state stakes winners. David doesn’t need a race with most of his runners – they’re live even when they’re fresh off the bench. He runs the other tracks and wins at a very high rate, but the Fairgrounds is the target of his barn.
The same goes for two-time coach Ron Faucheux. The fair is the goal. Trainers like this will keep a horse fresh between meetings. For the most part, Faucheux’s runners are sharp at the front. Because of this, Jareth Loveberry (he rode Larry Rivelli’s horses in Chicago) became his game of choice, but he will spread the wealth.
A trainer like Bret Calhoun will use the Delta Downs races as preps for the Fair, so keep that in mind if you see a poor performance by one of his runners there in a previous race. He’s a coach you want to trust and rely on, even though his runners are betting.
So are Tom Amoss’ runners. He’s said it time and time again – he tries to be transparent with the public about how his horses will do. When they’re cold on the board, that means something.
Justin Jeansonne does an excellent job with two year olds and maidens. Trust his runners.
Sarah Delany’s barn was hot. She rounds up her runners in form, so the third horses from the layoffs are a must in your multi-race bets and are likely to provide value.
Over the years, Steve Asmussen’s barn has won more than 1,000 races at the Fair. Don’t second-guess yourself if your reading is to fade one of his runners to the lower levels, though – so many of the wins come on the biggest days and stakes.
Chris Hartman won 31% last meeting. When his horses find form, they hold it. Trust your luck Hartman when he pools his horses in multi-race bets.
Shane Wilson won the trainer’s title at Evangeline Downs this summer. He has class runners and has a big barn that he cycles through. Last year his runners had little success at the Fair Grounds, but often due to bad luck in the races. This year, I think it will be different.
Emile Schwandt played the claiming game well. A small barn but one you want to trust if you like the runner.
Meet at the Fair Grounds this meeting and Joe Kristufek and I will keep you posted.