Michael Beychok, the 2012 National Handicapping Championship and 2012 Eclipse Award winner for best handicapper, brings 35 years of experience to The Advocate. Beychok — also the senior partner of Ourso Beychok Inc., a national political consulting firm based in Louisiana — runs his own handicapping website, BeychokRacing.com. Follow him on Twitter: @BeychokRacing.

Race 1

5: Blue Stage — Been running against better and drops to lowest level.

3: Final Samurai — Second last out with new blinkers, will be tough.

Race 2

6: New Girl — Improving sort can win at a price.

7: Red Bean Ice Cream — Gets Graham and ran 2nd this level last out.

Race 3

8: Angelic Dancer — Broke maiden in 3rd start. Still some upside for this filly.

3: Frank’s Joyce — Woke up in last and showed some real grit getting the nod.

Race 4

8: Classy Cajun — A woeful bunch here. This first timer hasn’t proven ineptness yet.

5: Belle Evon — Dropping in a softer spot and should like the turf and distance.

Race 5

7: Thwart — Could be finding his form after second, and Graham sticks.

2: Cruachan — Determined win last out after the drop to claimers — fits

Race 6

4: Ella Louise — I’m a sucker for these types but there will be a price.

9: Princess of Pearl — Looks like very likely winner after maiden win last out.

Race 7

3: Ten to Midnight — Looks like same pace setup that led to win in last.

5: Artic Thunder — Will be stalking top choice if that one falters.

Race 8

3: Harvest Home/Triple Check — Either is top choice for tough on turf Roussel.

2: Quiet Determination — Lone race over course was a corker.

Race 9

10: Intimidating Lad — Left at gate in last, has pace advantage over these.

7: Quiet Bandit — Two good efforts in last two make him competitive here.

Around the track

The announcement this week that Palace Malice is headed to the Fair Grounds for the New Orleans Handicap is exciting news. The Belmont Stakes winner ran in last year’s Louisiana Derby, and it is not often fans get to see a horse with such lofty accomplishments that could end up being in the running for Horse of the Year in 2014. Palace Malice will be ridden by Hall of Fame jockey Mike Smith, who rode him to victory in the Belmont.

Today’s selections made for a FAST Track and a Firm Turf.

Best bet

An Early Pick 4 is on the menu today. Starting in the 2nd race let’s try this combination to hit for a big score: 6-7 with 3-8 with 5-8 with 1-2-7 = $12 for a 50-cent ticket. Good Luck.