Image for Brian Zipse Brian Zipse - January 20, 2023

Louisiana Stakes: Talented Zozos Will Be In Search of His First Stakes Victory

Louisiana Stakes Odds and Post Position

Check out our predictions and odds for the Louisiana Stakes at Fair Grounds!

PP

Horse

Odds

Jockey

Trainer

1

BUSINESS MODEL

15/1

BET HERE

T Gaffalione

B Walsh

2

RUN CLASSIC

5/1

BET HERE

B J Hernandez Jr

W B Calhoun

3

INTREPID HEART

8/1

BET HERE

L Saez

J Sharp

4

GENTLE SOUL

12/1

BET HERE

J Loveberry

W B Calhoun

5

HAPPY AMERICAN

4/1

BET HERE

J Graham

N Pessin

6

CHESS CHIEF

20/1

BET HERE

R Gutierrez

D Stewart

7

FORZA DI ORO

5/1

BET HERE

F Geroux

B Cox

8

ZOZOS

5/2

BET HERE

C Lanerie

B Cox

9

MR. WIRELESS

6/1

BET HERE

D Parker

W B Calhoun

*Odds provided by author Brian Zipse.

Louisiana Stakes Predictions and Best Bets

Here are my plays ($50 in total)

$50 Win - Zozos  = $50

If you're playing only to win, go with my top pick Zozos (5/2).    

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Louisiana Stakes Predictions

The lightly raced but talented Zozos will be in search of his first stakes victory when he headlines a field of nine older males entered in Saturday’s Grade 3 Louisiana Stakes at Fair Grounds.

Away since finishing mid-pack in the 2022 Kentucky Derby, the son of Munnings returned in an allowance at Fair Grounds last month and won impressively by 2 3/4 lengths. 

Before his run for the roses at Churchill Downs, the Brad Cox-trained 4-year-old had won his first two starts impressively and then finished second behind the top 3-year-old in the $1 million Louisiana Derby at Fair Grounds.

Chief among his competition in the 8 1/2-furlong Louisiana will be the top three finishers from last month’s Tenacious Stakes. 

Happy American, a 5-year-old son of Runhappy, stormed by his competition that day to earn his first career stakes victory for trainer Neil Pessin.

Finishing behind him in second in third in the Tenacious were the graded stakes winning pair of Mr. Wireless and Forza di Oro.

Mr. Wireless is one of three entered in the Louisiana for trainer Bret Calhoun. His Run Classic is another who could be a threat on Saturday. The talented son of Runhappy has finished first or second in five of his seven career starts

Louisiana Stakes Predictions and Race Analysis

Zozos

This son of Munnings has a very good record at Fair Grounds. He won his debut there. He ran a very good second as a lightly raced contender in the $1 million Louisiana Derby there last year. And most recently, he returned from an extended layoff to easily dispatch allowance foes. 

Trained by Brad Cox, I actually thought he ran a sneaky good race in the Kentucky Derby last spring, considering the trip and wicked pace. Now he is back, and looking good for one of the best barns in the nation. 

This is not a bad group he’s facing on Saturday, but if he is as good as I think he will show this year, this should not be a race which will stand in his way. With bigger and better things in his future, he is the top pick.

Happy American

A confirmed stretch runner, this 5-year-old son of Runhappy turned in the best performance of his career to win the Tenacious, beating a number of horses that he will see again on Saturday. 

It was the same race that he ran big in last year, but when he moved up to graded stakes competition, he was no match for the very classy Olympiad twice in a row. That’s not necessarily a negative, but he wasn’t exactly second best in those pair of races at Fair Grounds either. 

He does come into this one sharp, though, and if he can run back to the last one, he is, at the very least, a good bet to find his way into the exotics.

Run Classic

This son of Runhappy has shown some flashes of brilliance, such as three starts back when he annihilated an allowance field at Keeneland, but he has yet to breakthrough and prove himself a graded stakes horse. 

The talent seems to be there, though, and if he can ever put it all together, he will be a player in the handicap division. Still, he has only run seven times in his career and now at 5-years-old, he needs to show that he can get it done against good horses. 

The last two since that big win in Keeneland were solid, but not quite good enough. He is in with a shot, but I like a few others better.

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Forza Di Oro

Perhaps the biggest threat to the favorite is this son of Speightstown, who is now also trained by Brad Cox. This will actually be his second start for the new barn, and his first try gives reason to be optimistic. 

Once a talented and well-thought-of graded stakes winner, he just has not been able to stay healthy throughout his career. Most recently, he stalked and pounced before being passed for third.

 It was a race that he needed after so much time away, and if he is feeling good in his new surroundings, he is certainly eligible to improve off the effort. I like Zozos better, but this one is a threat.

Mr. Wireless

A three-time stakes winner, this Dialed In gelding seldom fails to fire for trainer Bret Calhoun. He won two graded stakes races back in 2021, but last year was not quite as good. 

Still, he was competitive in each of his final five starts of the season. He made a menacing move last time in the Tenacious, but could not hold off the fast finish of Happy American.

A similar effort here will likely once again put him in the picture in the stretch run. He is a horse who you can count on to run well, but I am not sure he is quite up to the task of beating a horse like Zozos if that one runs his race.

Intrepid Heart

This son of Tapit could not get away from second place in 2022, with seven runner-up finishes in nine starts. There were some good performances among all those seconds, but he will need to improve off a recent seventh-place effort in the Tenacious. 

That is entirely possible, though, as he got off to an awkward start last time and now adds blinkers and the services of top rider Luis Saez for Saturday.

If he can run back to some of his better efforts, he does rate a shot in here and will likely have some attractive odds. Given his record, though, a big effort is more likely to land him in second, rather than a victory.

Gentle Soul

The third of three for trainer Bret Calhoun, this Tapizar gelding made his stakes debut last time when he set the pace and faded to fourth in the Diliberto Memorial Stakes. That effort came on the turf, which seems to be his priority of late. 

His dirt form is not as good, although he was able to win an allowance race at Fair Grounds on a sloppy track that was originally scheduled for the turf. If he does run here, he is not one that I expect much from.

Take note that he is cross entered in the Colonel E. R. Bradley earlier on the card, and is more likely to run in that turf stake if he draws in from the also-eligible list.

Business Model

This son of Candy Ride was unsuccessful in his stakes debut, which came just a few weeks ago when he finished sixth in the Tenacious. On the positive side, before the dull effort in the local stakes try he had been showing signs of improvement in the allowance company.

 A dead-heat for the win in a solid allowance race at Keeneland two starts back for trainer Brendan Walsh do give reason to hope he can bounce back with a better effort here, but I like others better.

Like Gentle Soul, he is cross entered in the turf stake earlier on the card, but also sits on the also-eligible list for that one.

Chess Chief

A stakes winner at Fair Grounds in the past, it would seem that the best days are behind this 7-year-old son of Into Mischief. 

He kept good company in 2022, but could never come close to the winner’s circle for trainer Dallas Stewart in eight starts. Most recently was another non-threatening run, where he finished fifth in the Tenacious at odds of 20/1.

Still, it’s worth noting that all five of the veteran runner’s career victories have come at the New Orleans oval. If he is to wake up and return to the previous form, this is likely the track where he will get it done.

How to Watch the Louisiana Stakes

Louisiana Stakes Race Information

  • What: Louisiana Stakes (Grade 3)

  • Location: Fair Grounds

  • Time: Saturday, January 21 -- 7:00 pm Eastern time

  • How to Watch: FanDuel TV

  • Purse: $150,000

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Image for Brian Zipse

AUTHOR

Brian Zipse

225 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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