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Best Horse Racing Bets Today | Fair Grounds, December 23

Written by: Brian Zipse
Published December 23, 2023
7 min read
Best Horse Racing Bets Today December 23

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Kentucky Derby and Kentucky Oaks qualifying points will be on the line Saturday at Fair Grounds as part of a racing card that includes eight stakes races. Off a smashing maiden breaking performance at Churchill Downs, Nash rates top billing among eight juvenile males in the Gun Runner Stakes.

In the female counterpart, West Omaha will also look to build upon an impressive maiden win at Churchill Downs for trainer Brad Cox when she headlines a compact field of six 2-year-old fillies in the Untapable Stakes. Without further ado, let’s get to my best bets in four of the biggest races from the excellent afternoon of racing.

Race #9 Untapable Stakes $100,000 1 mile & 70 yards dirt - 5:00pm EST

A sharp maiden winner at Churchill Downs in her second career start, West Omaha looks like the likely favorite among a compact of six juvenile fillies in search of Kentucky Oaks qualifying points in Saturday’s $100,000 Untapable Stakes at Fair Grounds.

One of two in the field for trainer Brad Cox, the daughter of West Coast made an impression in her debut when she came flying late to miss by less than a length. In her second start, she went right to the lead and was a stylish four-length winner while going seven furlongs.

Among her top competitors in the one mile and 70-yard affair is her stablemate Alpine Princess. Twice a winner in four career starts, the Classic Empire broke her maiden at Saratoga three starts back. After a failed attempt in the Grade 1 Alcibiades, she was a good looking allowance winner at Churchill Downs four weeks ago.

Always well liked in the barn of Phil Bauer, Legadema is another who should merit strong consideration in the Untapable. She didn’t make it to the races until one month ago, but was a sharp winner at Churchill Downs while sprinting. In a race without much speed, the unbeaten filly should be able to go right to the front and is bred to appreciate the added distance. She is the top pick.

My Play

  • $20 Win & Place - Legadema = $40

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Race #10 Buddy Diliberto Memorial Stakes $100,000 1 1/16 miles turf - 5:30pm EST

In a loaded field of 13, Two Emmys comes in with the best credentials and looms as the one to beat in Saturday’s Buddy Diliberto Memorial Stakes. The $100,000 test will be run over 1 1/16 miles on the Fair Grounds turf course.

Closing in on a million dollars in lifetime turf earnings, the 7-year-old son of English Channel was a romping winner of the Grade 3 Fair Grounds Stakes when last seen. That impressive victory came back in February, however, meaning this will be the classy runner’s first start in ten months.

His biggest threat could come from the recent winner, Rising Empire. With four very good efforts over the Fair Grounds turf in as many tries, it is quite apparent that the Brendan Walsh-trained son of Empire Maker loves the course. In that last start, he was a decisive winner over another Diliberto contender, Beatbox.

Trained by Cherie DeVaux, Beatbox has been right there in his last two starts, both on the turf. A relatively lightly raced 5-year-old, he looks to be coming into this test in top form. It’s a wide open affair, but I cannot ignore the recent form and fondness for the course of Rising Empire. He is the top pick. 

My Play

  • $10 Exacta Part Wheel - Rising Empire over Two Emmys, Beatbox, and Fair Dinkum = $30

  • $10 Exacta Part Wheel - Two Emmys, Beatbox, and Fair Dinkum over Rising Empire = $30

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Race #11 Tenacious Stakes $100,000 1 1/16 miles dirt - 6:00pm EST

A graded stakes winner over the track earlier this year, Pioneer of Medina is a slight favorite on the morning line in a wide open field of eight older males going 1 1/16-miles on the main track in Saturday’s $100,000 Tenacious Stakes at Fair Grounds.

The grade 3 winner will be making his second start for trainer Brad Cox, after transferring from the Todd Pletcher barn. The 4-year-old runner will look to improve upon a fifth-place finish in his debut for his new team. Third in the rich Louisiana Derby, better than 60% of his lifetime earnings have come at Fair Grounds.

In a race full of stakes winners, his competition will run deep on Saturday. Confidence Game, Happy American, Five Star General, and Stage Raider all won stakes races this season, while the other three in the field were all sharp recent winners.

Coming off seven straight losses, the defending race champion, Happy American, should offer solid value. He won two stakes races over the track last winter and should appreciate the fast pace in front of him on Saturday. Returning to a track he likes, I think he can return to top form. He will be the top pick.

My Plays 

  • $10 Exacta Part Wheel -  Happy American over Pioneer of Medina, Dash Attack, and Stage Raider = $30

  • $10 Exacta Part Wheel -  Pioneer of Medina, Dash Attack, and Stage Raider over Happy American = $30

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Race #12 Gun Runner Stakes $100,000 1 1/16 miles dirt - 6:30pm EST

In a race won by the champion Epicenter two years ago, eight juvenile colts will try to blaze their own path to stardom when they meet in the $100,000 Gun Runner Stakes on Saturday. Off a scintillating maiden score, Nash will be the one to beat in the 1 1/16-mile test, which kicks off the Kentucky Derby trail at Fair Grounds. 

The 2-year-old son of Medaglia d’Oro was a solid second in his career debut at Keeneland while sprinting for the Brad Cox barn. In his second start, he stretched out to 1 1/16 miles and looked like a budding star at Churchill Downs. Going gate to wire on the lead, he won off by better than ten lengths in fast time.

Chief among his rivals on Saturday afternoon will be the Steve Asmussen-trained Track Phantom. In each of three starts, the front-running son of Quality Road faced some stiff competition in his first two career starts before romping home an impressive winner of a Churchill Downs maiden race last month.

Looking for a little more value than the two speedy favorites on the morning line, I am giving Snead a real chance on Saturday. Trained by Brendan Walsh, he began his career on turf but has looked good in rallying to win both of his dirt starts. The last one was an impressive victory over the Fair Grounds track. He is the top pick.

My Play

  • $20 Win & Place - Snead = $40

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AUTHOR

Brian Zipse

280 Articles

Taken to the races at a very young age, Brian has been a passionate fan of horse racing his entire life. Professionally, his work has been published on several leading industry sites. Brian served as the Editor of Horse Racing Nation from 2010-2017, where he still writes a regular column and hosts the popular weekly webcast HorseCenter.

Email: [email protected]

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