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Saturday is a big day at the Fair Grounds, which hosts a power-packed, 14-race program headlined by six stakes races.

Saturday Free Horse Racing Picks: Late Pick Four at Fair Grounds

Saturday is a big day at the Fair Grounds, which hosts a power-packed, 14-race program headlined by six stakes races. Four of them make up an all-stakes Pick Four to end the day, and that sequence includes the Grade 3 Lecomte, one of the first races of 2022 that can be considered a Kentucky Derby prep race.

I’ll take a budget-friendly approach, as I’ll be playing an $8 ticket. Here’s how I’ve put it together.

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RACE #11

The opening leg is the Silverbulletday for 3-year-old fillies, and it houses the first of two singles. This race has drawn just six horses, and the likely favorite hits me as a formidable one for several reasons.

#5 LA CRETE never looked like a loser in her debut at Churchill Downs back in November. She made the lead, got comfortable, and won while geared down by jockey Joel Rosario. This is a class test, sure, but I just don’t see anyone that could challenge her early on in this race. I think she runs to her world-class pedigree (she’s by top sire Medaglia d’Oro and out of Grade 1-winning mare Cavorting), gets comfortable early, and cruises home.

RACE #12

Things get a bit more interesting here, as we head to the turf for the Colonel E.R. Bradley. We’ll have a field of 12 here, and I’m going against #6 TWO EMMYS. This seems far, far shorter than his preferred distance, the three-month layoff isn’t ideal, and I simply think others in here are quicker early on than he is. He’s a very nice horse who deserves attention in longer races, but in this spot, his likely price hits me as an underlay.

I’m going four-deep, and my top pick is #7 EXCESS MAGIC. He loves this turf course, where he’s gone 3-for-4 with one poor effort that can be excused because it was followed by a very long layoff. He’s taken a significant step forward in speed figures since coming back, and it’s telling that Reylu Gutierrez lands here when he likely had several options.

I’ll also use #2 HALO AGAIN, #3 CAVALRY CHARGE, and #8 MONARCHS GLEN. None of these are gigantic prices, but Two Emmys figures to be favored, and if that one loses, whichever runner wins should play as a significantly bigger price in multi-race exotics.

RACE #13

The morning line man thinks the Grade 3 Louisiana is a two-horse race. Rivals #2 MANDALOUN and #3 MIDNIGHT BOURBON will square off in the first of two straight graded races, and I much prefer the former runner.

Draw a line through Mandaloun’s dud in the Grade 2 Louisiana Derby, and you suddenly have a horse that’s done very little wrong. We haven’t seen him since he was placed first in the Grade 1 Haskell back in July, but he’s been working steadily for Brad Cox and has shown every sign you want to see from a returning runner. Add in that Midnight Bourbon is winless in his last eight starts dating back to last year’s Lecomte, and Mandaloun looks more and more like the one to beat. He’s my second single, and I hope he comes back running.

RACE #14

I’m taking a stance against a short price in the Lecomte. #3 PAPPACAP ran in some big races last year and most notably finished second behind Corniche in the Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile. However, he’s winless since August, and while his pedigree says two turns shouldn’t be a problem, the lack of a win beyond six furlongs is a genuine concern.

I’m going four-deep to finish this off, and my top pick is a price. #2 UNIFIED REPORT is 3-for-3 and steps out of Louisiana-bred company to run here. It’s a stiff class test, but Dallas Stewart seems to have this one geared up, judging by a recent string of local drills. Furthermore, while he hasn’t routed yet, he did go two turns effectively when winning a seven-furlong race two back over the Delta Downs bullring. 

#4 TRAFALGAR, #5 EPICENTER, and #9 PRESIDENTIAL are on my ticket as well. Presidential is a gigantic price, but he broke his maiden by daylight back in August and is bred to be a good one. His dam, Uptown Twirl, is kin to champion Classic Empire, who had no problem going long. Add in a strong series of workouts, my budget-friendly ticket, and the rarity of a Steve Asmussen runner being 20-1 on the morning line, and you have a horse that I simply had to throw in.


  • R11: 5
  • R12: 2,3,7,8
  • R13: 2
  • R14: 2,4,5,9

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Article Author

Horse Racing

Andrew Champagne is a horse racing handicapper with a specialism in juveniles. One thing is for certain, Champagne gets the party started.


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