Opening day at the Fair Grounds’ 150th anniversary season last year featured five winners who last raced at different tracks, four who rallied from far back at 5-1 odds or higher, and none who led from wire to wire. A new chapter will be written when the track’s Winter Meet begins this Friday, Nov. 17. Here’s a look at the 50-cent Late Pick 4 on opening day that features three stakes races:
FG 6th race (4:15 P.M. EST) -- FREE LIKE A GIRL – cross entered in today’s 8th race -- is headed toward millionaire status with a 13-27 record, but she fired a blank as the odds-on favorite two starts back and couldn’t gain on the top pair off a good stalking trip at 7F two months later. Similarly, FIRST I’VE SEEN rallied for three photo-finish victories in a row during a six-figure first half of 2023, only to come up empty for a new trainer two months later. WHOLELOTTAMO is a late-running price play to use in his second start on the cutback in distance from a series of turf routes. He got up for third behind a pair of $200k earners two back, sustained a mild 3-wide bid from the far turn at Delta Downs last out and gets plenty of pace to rally into in the $75,000 Doris Hebert Memorial.
FG 7th race (4:45 P.M. EST) -- There’s many ways to go in this crowded Maiden Special Weight turf sprint. LADY CHAI broke slowly, moved up 5-wide on the turn and lugged in while no threat to a well-meant Wesley Ward-trained first-out winner. But the daughter of Kantharos, the No. 11-ranked North American turf sire this year, gets Lasix for a 24-percent second-out barn. MIA MARCELA dueled with eventual Breeders Cup Juvenile Fillies runner-up Jody’s Pride in her turf-to-dirt debut at Saratoga, then stopped when collared on the lead in a follow-up try as the favorite on the Churchill Downs main track. BLUE VORTEX debuts for trainer Joe Sharp, who also trained the dam, Sirenusa, to a debut victory at the Fair Grounds and two stakes wins in her first four starts. RAGTIME LADY, a $375,000 sales buy, debuts off a series of steady 5F gate works for trainer Tom Amoss, who can get a horse ready despite a poor record in turf sprints.
FG 8th race (5:15 P.M. EST) -- SABRA TUFF finished fourth, beaten 14 lengths in her last two starts, but one was in the Grade I Alabama Stakes against Randomized (7-4-7, $943k), who just missed in the Breeders Cup Distaff next out, and the other was against Xigera, who came back to win the Grade 2 Mother Goose. She breezed 3F in :36 at Churchill Downs to get ready for the $75,000 John Valene Memorial. A.G.’S CHARLOTTE has three wins, two seconds and a third in her last seven stakes tries going a route of ground on the main track. She comes off a sub-par effort on the turf but is a must use on the ticket. FREE LIKE A GIRL gets on the ticket if her connections opt for this race instead of today’s sixth race. FOR HARPER won by a combined 18-1/2 lengths, on fast and muddy footing, in her first two starts wearing blinkers recently. She’s worth using at 8-1 on the morning line.
FG 9th race (5:45 P.M. EST) -- ACCOMMODATE EVA awakened with blinkers and drew away from next-out runaway Mixer to break her maiden two starts back at Keeneland. She was no threat in the Breeders Cup Juvenile Fillies but gets Lasix for her first start since. She has post 13 to contend with in the $75,000 Donovan L. Ferguson Memorial in her fifth start at as many tracks. EMILY’S BULLET earned a spot on the Pick 4 ticket after she pulled away from the favorite to win a 7F and showed some flashy workouts since then.
Suggested 50-Cent Ticket
FG 6th Race: 2, 5, 11
FG 7th Race: 6, 7, 8, 11
FG 8th Race: 2, 5, 6, 7
FG 9th Race: 11, 13
Cost: $36 or $32, depending where Free Like A Girl runs