January 21 is a big day for the Fair Grounds, with seven of their 14 races being stakes. Daniel Benjamin previews and makes predictions for one of Saturday’s bigger races, the Grade III Louisiana Stakes.
The Grade III Louisiana Stakes is a one and one-sixteenth-mile race for 4-year-olds and upwards. Inaugurated in 1942, this year’s race is worth $150,000 with nine entrants with post time set for 7 pm (ET). The winner of the race gets 60% of the purse, with 20% going to second, 10% to third, and so down to 1% from 6th-9th.
Race Entrants and Odds
- No. 1 Business Model (15-1 ML): The 5-year-old gelding’s third year of racing was his best to date, winning two of five outings in 2022 and finishing second in another race. He is coming off a sixth-place finish in the Tenacious Stakes at the Fair Grounds on December 26. Business Model has three career wins and six top 3 finishes for $220,999 in career earnings.
- No. 2 Run Classic (4-1): The 5-year-old horse is very lightly raced, racing for just the eighth time heading into his third season, though he has shown improvement in year two. Run Classic has been successful, with three wins and two second-place finishes in his previous outings. Run Classic finished fourth in the Tinsel Stakes the last time out on Dec. 17.
- No. 3 Intrepid Heart (8-1): The 7-year-old Kentucky gelding is the second oldest entrant in the field, although his eight wins are a field high, and he has hit the board in 20 of his 29 races. A 2019 Belmont Stakes participant, Intrepid Heart, is coming off an eighth-place finish in the Tenacious Stakes the last time out.
- No. 4 Gentle Soul (12-1): The 6-year-old gelding is entering his third year of racing. Gentle Soul finished fourth in the Buddy Dilberto Memorial Stakes at the Fair Grounds on December 26, snapping a three-race win streak. He has four career wins in nine starts though it has been all or nothing for him.
- No. 5 Happy American (4-1): The 5-year-old gelding from RunHappy, has been mainly running in stakes races over the last year. He picked up his first career stakes in the Tenacious Stakes the previous time out. Happy American has four wins and has finished in the money eight times though he has finished fifth in both his Graded Stakes races, Grade II New Orleans Stakes and Grade III Mineshaft Stakes.
- No. 6 Chess Chief (20/1): The oldest, most experienced, and highest-earning entrant in the field is the biggest long shot. Chess Chief, whose last victory in the Tenacious Stakes in 2021, has five wins and 14 top 3 finishes in 38 career starts. He is $70K short of hitting $1 million in career earnings.
- No. 7 Forza Di Oro (9/2): The 6-year-old son of Speightstown is one of two horses in the field who has a graded stakes victory, winning the Grade III Discovery Stakes at Aqueduct in November 2020. He has four wins, and seven “money” finishes in 10 career starts for $342,875 in earnings. He was third in the Tenacious Stakes in his last outing.
- No. 8 Zozos (3-1): The 4-year-old Munnings colt is the field’s youngest and least experienced entrant. He went 3-for-3 in non-Graded Stakes affairs, finishing 10th in the Kentucky Derby and second in the Grade II Louisiana Derby in his first year of racing. Zozos, coming off a victory in a $52,000 Allowance Optional Claiming race at the Fair Grounds on December 17, is the morning line favorite.
- No. 9 Mr. Wireless (5/1): The 5-year-old Dialed-In gelding is the only multiple Graded Stakes winner, coming away victorious in the 2021 Grade III West Virginia Derby and Oklahoma Derby. He has six wins, and nine top 3 finishes in 13 career starts for $870,907 in career earnings. Mr. Wireless finished second in the Tenacious Stakes.
Predictions and Best Bets
I expect this race to be outstanding. There are several solid horses in the field, although I don’t believe there is a real stand out.
I like Zozos, Mr. Wireless, Happy American, and Forzi Di Oro the best, along with Run Classic and Bussiness Model to a lesser extent. Saying that I would avoid Chess Chief and Gentle Soul. Intrepid Heart is worth a look only in exotics like the Superfecta or when wheeling/boxing a trifecta using four or more horses.
Prediction: 1. Zozos 2. Forzi Di Oro 3.Happy American 4. Intrepid Heart 5. Run Classic 6. Business Model 7. Mr. Wireless 8. Chess Chief 9. Gentle Soul
- $1 Exacta Box: Zozos/ Forsi Di Oro/ Happy American
- $2 Bet on Forzi Di Oro for Show
- $2 win: Zozos. He has trained decently well and is coming off a victory, granted against low-level competition. Zozos does have excellent early speed, and if he gets the lead, there is a chance to pull away, and he likes to run at the Fair Ground.
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