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Check out our predictions and odds for the New Orleans Classic at Fair Grounds!
WEST WILL POWER
RATTLE N ROLL
B J Hernandez Jr
W B Calhoun
PIONEER OF MEDINA
*Odds provided by the author.
$5 Trifecta Part Wheel - Art Collector over Pioneer of Medina over West Will Power, Mr. Wireless, Happy American and Rattle N Roll = $20
$5 Trifecta Part Wheel - Art Collector over West Will Power, Mr. Wireless, Happy American and Rattle N Roll over Pioneer of Medina= $20
$5 Exacta Part Wheel - Pioneer of Medina over West Will Power, Mr. Wireless, Happy American and Rattle N Roll = $20
If you're playing only to win, go with my top pick Art Collector (8/5).
Art Collector, currently the top-rated horse in the United States, is the headliner and horse to beat in a field of eight older males in Saturday’s Grade 2 New Orleans Classic at Fair Grounds
Trained by Bill Mott, he has had numerous important victories in his career, but none were bigger than his 4 1/2-length romps in the Grade 1 Pegasus World Cup in January at Gulfstream Park.
Overall, the 6-year-old son of Bernardini has won better than $4 million in his career with 11 victories in 21 career starts.
Chief among his competition in the $400,000 New Orleans Classic is the Brad Cox-trained West Will Power, who is also a 6-year-old son of Bernardini.
Second in the Grade 1 Clark Handicap last fall at Churchill Downs, he finished second in his only start this year to the streaking Last Samurai at Oaklawn Park. Overall, he has finished first or second in 12 of his 14 career starts.
Graded stakes winners Pioneer of Medina and Mr. Wireless also merit strong consideration in the 9-furlong affair on Saturday.
The pair come in off a spirited stretch battle in the Grade 3 Mineshaft Stakes over the track five weeks ago, with Pioneer of Medina taking home the narrow victory.
Coming off the biggest victory of his career, this classy 6-year-old looks to build upon the success of his $3 million Pegasus World Cup score and validate his place among the best horses in the nation.
He will be making his first start at Fair Grounds and there is another speed in the race to contend with, but he still looks like the one they will all have to beat. The eight-time stakes winner demonstrated that he can sit just off the speed last time, and that could suit him well again here if need be.
Trained by the Hall of Famer Bill Mott, he will be the favorite, so his overall value will be a question, but I am expecting another victory here. He is the top pick.
This son of Bernardini has run plenty of good races of late, and in fact, has been pretty consistent for his entire career. After closing out the 2022 season in the best form of his career, he returned last month at Oaklawn Park, to run a solid second behind Last Samurai in the Grade 3 Razorback.
He will probably need better to win this, but he could improve the second time back from the short layoff. Having said that, I do see a bit of a pattern where he tends to fall short against strong competition.
That belief, added with the other early speed in the race, have me believing this is not the spot for him to pick up his second graded stakes score.
If the favorite does not win, this is the one that I like best of the rest. Drawn to the outside in the eight-horse field, this 4-year-old son of Pioneerof the Nile should sit a good trip behind the speed.
After a few rough races starting with the Kentucky Derby, he really seems to have found his best stride. His game win last time, outdueling Mr. Wireless to the wire in the Grade 3 Mineshaft proves that he is in great form.
He also clearly likes the Fair Grounds track. I don’t think he beats Art Collector if that one runs his best, but the Todd Pletcher trainee has a big chance to prove second best.
This Dialed In gelding has been knocking on the door of late with three consecutive runner-up finishes in stakes races over the track. His latest effort was likely his best effort yet, finishing just a head behind Pioneer of Medina in the Mineshaft.
A two-time Grade 3 winner as a 3-year-old, he could be ready to take a step forward from a slightly disappointing season last year for trainer Bret Calhoun.
He also figures to benefit from a solid early pace here. Still, I don’t know that he is likely to get over the hump in what is probably his toughest test to date and at a distance that may be a little longer than his best.
After a number of strong performances, this son of Runhappy turned in a stinker last time. The winner of a pair of stakes earlier in the meet failed to come with any rally last time and finished eighth in the Mineshaft.
Considering how well he was going, the result was rather puzzling. If he can return to his best form on Saturday, his late run figures to make him a factor, especially if the pace is contentious.
There are definitely mixed signals going into one of the toughest tests of his career, but I am willing to give him the benefit of the doubt. Drawing a line through the last one makes him a contender at attractive odds.
This will be the seasonal debut of the Grade 1 winner. His biggest victory came as a juvenile back in the fall of 2021. Once thought of as a major Kentucky Derby contender, he failed to live up to those expectations the first half of his 3-year-old season.
He did return to his winning ways, though, against slightly easier competition and was able to win three smaller Derbies in the second half of the season. Proven to be a nice horse, who knows his way to the winner’s circle, it will be interesting to see if he can improve as an older horse.
Having said that, he has found a tough spot for his first race in nearly five months. His late run could earn him a spot in the exotics, but a victory would be a bit of a surprise here.
This son of Speightstown will break from the rail and has a high turn of early speed. Despite having run 24 times in his career, Saturday’s big test will be his stakes debut.
Actually, the horse who took ten races to break his maiden has made good strides in the last two years. While deserving of a stakes attempt off a very nice wire-to-wire victory at Fair Grounds, this level of competition looks to be too much for the 6-year-old.
He should make his presence known early in the race, but after that it’s difficult to imagine him sticking around in deep stretch.
Still pretty lightly raced, this son of Lord Nelson was claimed out of his return race for $50,000. It was a solid win and now his new trainer Chris Hartman is moving him way up to a strong graded stakes company.
He actually had plenty of graded stakes experience last year, but could do no better than fourth in four tries the first half of 2022.
While he has won his last three non-stakes races, he looks to be a cut below this group. I will take a pass on the longshot on Saturday.
New Orleans Classic Race Information
What: New Orleans Classic (Grade 2)
Location: Fair Grounds
Time: Saturday, March 25 -- 5:04 pm Eastern time
How to Watch: FanDuel TV
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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