2023 Fair Grounds Stakes Cheatsheet
By TwinSpires Editorial Team, Sponsored Content

By Vance Hanson (TwinSpires.com)

1. TIZ THE BOMB (9-2) – Negative Kentucky Derby (G1) experience perhaps had some longer term effects as he didn’t perk up on the return to turf in New York over the summer; did show great promise on the surface as a juvenile, winning a pair of stakes before finishing second to the world class champion Modern Games in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf (G1); better season might be in the offing after some shelf time and regrouping, though lack of a recent race undoubtedly a concern in his return here.

2. TWO EMMYS (3-1) – Although he threw a clunker in this event last season, no questioning his overall back class advantage with a Grade 1 score in 2021 and a huge win in the Muniz Memorial (G2) over this course a year ago; comeback effort in the Colonel E.R. Bradley S. was very solid, given he hadn’t run since June, plus the closer-friendly course was playing favorable to a Gentle Soul type; the margin was small, however, there is a four-pound weight shift in his favor, and he figures to be more fit with that prep behind him; dangerous.

3. CAVALRY CHARGE (6-1) – Winless since turning in a shocking 35-1 upset of this race last year, but there’s reason to hope for better this time; third in the Muniz was a decent follow-up and second to G1 class Ivar at Indianapolis was also strong; the only knock is that he was ineffective over Churchill’s new turf last summer and, frankly, a lot of horses struggled to adapt to it; back on ground we know he likes, he deserves consideration for a share or more.

4. GENTLE SOUL (7-2) – Although an all-or-nothing type so far, he certainly likes this course having won three of four over it; the one misstep, in the Diliberto Memorial, was forgivable as he was too forwardly placed over a course that played toward closers; that bias was still in existence when he rallied to edge Two Emmys in the Colonel Bradley; the price won’t be as nice here, but repeat certainly possible given his fondness for the local sod.

5. ENGLISH TAVERN (8-1) – Second best in the Diliberto Memorial to Spooky Channel, who had plenty of back class but was coming off of a very long layoff, and last time simply didn’t fire in the Colonel Bradley despite the presence of an outside closing bias; seemingly a cut below rivals like Two Emmys and Gentle Soul based on that effort, so in tough again in this spot.

6. PIXELATE (8-1) – Grade 2 veteran has run well over this course in the past, though frustrating string of seconds is a minor knock against; a little unlucky in his return from a longer break last summer, attempting to overcome a slow pace and traffic, but it was a good try and evidence he might be able to fresh in this spot for a barn enjoying a strong 26% meet; some things to like.

7. CORELLI (8-1) – Eight-year-old was favored to win a Jan. 28 conditioned allowance at Gulfstream in his first race in 14 months, but not surprising he proved short when finishing a distant third; figures to move forward some off that tightener, and does have some back class to rely on having won the Singspiel (G3) and Henry Clark S. in his last full season of competition; lower rungs of the exotics might be a more realistic outcome, however.

8. BAY STREET MONEY (6-1) – Since joining the Maker barn last summer, he’s knocked out his first two allowance conditions and finished a solid third when attempting to pass his third at Gulfstream while facing some stakes veterans; the latter was quick enough to suggest he can fit in this spot, and the extra furlong of this race figures to benefit his closing style; in the mix for a share or more.