Michael Beychok, the 2012 National Handicapping Championship and 2012 Eclipse Award winner for best handicapper, brings 35 years of experience to The Advocate. Beychok is also the senior partner of Ourso Beychok Inc., an award winning national political consulting firm based in Louisiana. Follow him on Twitter @beychokracing.

Picks made today for fast track and on turf.

Race 1

2. Star Rocket: Hard to trust any of these to win so tread lightly here to begin.

4. Arnaud: Has shown some interest on occasion hope today shows more.

Race 2

2. James and Company: Will almost certainly run better after a race over track.

10. The Imposter: Big second place finish in last and repeat can win this heat.

IF OFF TURF: 5-7

Race 3

8. USS Altair: On the class drop looks like a strong favorite against this bunch.

5. Xanto: Long shot chance with blinkers back on and some back class races.

Race 4

10. Lucky Move: Inside around both turns not place to be — improves Thursday.

1. Sunoof: Into the Howard barn and have to believe this one improves off first effort.

8. Finding Value: Cox has extraordinary numbers with all turf starters — 30 percent winners.

If OFF TURF: 8-1

Race 5

1. Dorfman: Inside draws means should be prominent early if he breaks well.

8. Tiz Too Much: Might go to the lead and try to take ‘em all the way.

Race 6

2. Eskenformore: This is a nice filly — hoping the layoff can be overcome with a big run.

6. Smiley Briley: Definitely the one to beat who should improve off a layoff for Stall.

IF OFF TURF: 12-9

Race 7

3. One River Place: Horse has talent — been laid off — comes back to fire big here.

8. Take the Count: Another Howard who should improve off the one start.

Race 8

10. Bora Bora: This one has some sneaky works and Cox wins a bunch on turf.

8 .War Tom: Nice run in last on turf — logical to run another good one and can win.

IF OFF TURF: 8-11

Race 9

5. Open Interest: No knocking the last two efforts over this course seems strong.

10. My Queen Olivia: Drops down but has the necessary speed figures to win at level.

Around the track

The word “great” is thrown around frequently in sports, but that word epitomized the life and career of trainer Jack Van Berg who passed away Wednesday at 81 after a battle with cancer. I was lucky enough to spend some time with him years ago and he was generous with his time and thoughts. JVB won many training titles here at the Fair Grounds, and over 6,500 races, but he won my respect because of how he treated a curious young kid who asked too many questions nearly 40 years ago. RIP JVB.

Here are the up to date season totals for Chok’s Choices:

190-34-44-28=18 percent; Win/56 percent; In the Money/.79 return or ROI,

For Chok’s second choices or “the unders”:

184-43-26-24=23 percent; Win/50 percent; In the Money/1.12 return or ROI

Best bet

Our best bet Thursday will be in Race 5 No. 1 Dorfman. Should show the speed needed to get the win.

Good luck and may they all come home safely.