Fair Grounds launches their first Triple Crown prep of 2021 and we have a big field and a fantastic betting race.  The problem is it is a very difficult race to handicap.  As I peruse the past performances, I have a difficult time tossing any horses in the race.  I'm definitely looking for a price horse.

First thing you notice is there are three E (Early speed horses) and three E/P 7 horses.  With a short run into the first turn many horses will be trying to secure their position and the pace should be quick.  Another thing to notice as we delve into the past performances is that many horses are stepping up in class into their first stakes race and our stretching out to two turns for the very first time.

1. Midnight Bourbon - This horse gets a great post position draw and Asmussen horses are drilled down in Laredo as yearlings to be patient and hug the rail.  This horse is going to save a lot of ground. He is eligible to improve off the 3 month layoff and is the only horse to face G1 competition.  You won't get a great price but the horse will not be favored.  This is a $525K well bred yearling. Strong contender to win.

2. Arabian Prince - The only true closer in the race, the horse should get a dream trip.  West Point paid $235K for this modestly bred horse.  I hope Hernandez can find a seam and not ship this horse too wide coming for home.  I'm confident this horse will be running late down the long Fair Grounds stretch to hit the trifecta at a decent price.

3. Beep Beep - One of the speed horses.  This horse is well-bred and after drawing off to win a 7F maiden race at 2.4-1 odds, the horse was immediately shut down and rested.  The horse will face pressure up front but is drawn well and capable of improving in second start of career at 12-1.

4. Proxy - This Godolphin home-bred debuted in an off the turf race.  Then the horse ran with Lasix on in next two starts at FG as odds-on favorites.  Seems like an unusual path for a Godolphin horse and horse is not fast on Energy.

5. Regular Guy - Love the name of this horse and his owners are called Coffeepot stables.  Sign me up.  This horse lost to Santa Cruiser as the favorite and then broke maiden with Lasix in 4th start of career.  Seems a step slow.

6. Game Day Play - This horse has won 2 races including a listed stakes at Remington and a maiden races at Lone Star.  Not the path of your average derby starter.  Horse has never raced farther then 7F in four lifetime starts and pedigree is all sprinter.  Can't see this horse hitting the board.

7. Santa Cruiser - Calumet Farm horse was shut down after breaking maiden at CD.  Desormeaux and Graham have been deadly together.  Horse is an E based on his winning effort but horse can likely rate as well and should put in a decent effort off the layoff.

8. Red N Wild - Heavily raced as a 2yo and beaten when stepped up to listed stakes competition.  Went off as a huge long-shot in last race and figures to do so again here.  Not likely to make presence felt in this race.

9. Manor House - This horse won for fun going a mile at Laurel in his debut for Stidham.  Not sure there is much to read based on the jockey selections for Stidham (also trains Proxy).  Overall I prefer this one who has more upside.  Worth considering.

10. Mandaloun - This one will be the favorite and odds should drop from the morning line.  Brad Cox trains this well bred Juddmonte horse who is stretching out from 7F in last.  Horse is undefeated in 2 starts as odds on favorite in both.  Horse does not need lead but may get shuffled back early with the wide draw.  Very logical horse but not a good bet.

11. Dyn O Mite - Great name but horse is heavily raced and his best efforts have been when the race was scheduled for the grass.  Very little chance here.

Bottom line - Wide open race so demand value.  Of the short priced horses I prefer #1 Midnight Bourbon over #10 Mandaloun with the better draw and race experience.  The best value in the race is #2 Arabian Prince who could be keyed in vertical exotics or simply bet to win.  #3 Beep Beep, #7 Santa Cruiser and #9 Manor House are all worth using (watch the tote and demand at least 10-1).  I would play against #4 Proxy.  Good luck.