Saturday Stakes Preview: A mysterious 8/1 shot in The New Orleans Handicap at The Fair Grounds


>Go to the PPs for the New Orleans Handicap/ Post Time: 4:54 PM CDT

The Grade 2 New Orleans Handicap has a field of 9 horses going a mile and 1/8 on the dirt. It goes as race 10 on the card. The field is led by Moreno, who is the highweight and 9-5 on the morning line in his first start since he finished a distant second to Shared Belief in the Santa Anita Handicap.

According to our Pace Projector, the New Orleans Handicap will be run at a fast pace, and the early leader will be Mystery Train, followed closely by Go Go Rocket and Moreno.

From a betting perspective, our favorite horse in the New Orleans Handicap is One King’s Man, but something gives us pause. A trainer with this kind of record? Ratings of 98, 99, and 100 in all the categories? A winning percentage that makes it look as if he found a track that cards nothing but match races? We would like to see a couple of decent graded stakes performances from his horses before endorsing one in a Grade 2 on a big day. Graded stakes can be a little bit different, and, no matter how talented the trainer is, no matter how brilliantly he might handle a barn full of inexpensive horses, you don’t know until you know.

We wouldn’t need to see a lot of decent graded stakes performances. We’d even be content with what Prince once called “something close to nothing.” But right now we have nothing. And that gives us pause.

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But we are going with One King’s Man anyway. He is 8-1 on the ML. The Pace Projector shows him getting a set-up that should flatter his closing style. His last two efforts were highly impressive visually. In his most recent start, against Louisiana-breds, he got hammered at the start, knocked sideways, and it goes unmentioned in the result chart. He has TimeformUS Speed Figures that fit with the recent figures of all of these except Moreno, who plays a different game at his best.

Moreno’s best effort makes any anti-Moreno analysis moot. But we see Moreno as a horse who can go in either direction second off the layoff. His odds will be short, and our feeling is that if he goes backwards even a little bit today, this, combined with an unpleasant pace scenario, might be enough to keep him out of the winner’s circle.

At 12-1 on the ML, and off an impressive effort that received a speed figure of 102, Afford is another horse we would want in our play.

And Red Rifle, the aptly named, tough-as-nails gelding who fires shot after shot after shot and wins on grass and wins on dirt and wins on synthetic and wins at 7F and 8.5F and 9F and 10F and 12F and has amassed $425,000 dollars in 14 starts, will be going in our play too.

The play:

Win bet on One King’s Man.

Use One King’s Man and, to a lesser degree, Afford in multi-race exotics.

Add Red Rifle in verticals and protect under Moreno.



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