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

7 Yes It’s a Fact : Looks to have a pace advantage here over these.

9 Ridge Wiki: Should get first shot to get to the leaders

Race 2

8 Just too Smart: Third off a layoff is a positive category for Richards.

2 Loris Darling: Has an improving pattern and good post.

1 Grand Isle: One to beat from the rail post at short odds.

Race 3

1 Marv in Lafitte: Very likely winner with rail and second off layoff but short odds.

9 Master’s Degree: Was very good over summer — ignore last and better run Saturday.

Race 4

7 Visceral: Huge run first out and should love the turf with Big Brown as daddy.

5 I Call Shotgun: Improvement expected in the second start.

Race 5

3 Springboard: Didn’t really handle the track in last — gets another shot here.

5 Arch Angel: Liked the dirt — will need to improve and employ closing kick.

Race 6

1 Sopresa D Oro: Rail — has speed — long odds — could last on the lead.

5 Mutaasway: New to Sharp barn — deep closer needs fast past.

8 Dustins Passion: Fast and tries turf for Asmussen.

Race 7

5 Albano: A favorite horse of mine — loves the track — will triumph at short odds.

2 Fordubai: Another one that likes this track will get pace to close.

Race 8

3 Highball: Could be the breakout race for this talented horse at good odds.

4 Infinite Magic: Going for the Cat Man exacta here as both horses have huge chances at long odds.

Race 9

5 Forever Unbridled: Tough assignment, but she has the talent to be up to the task.

9 Top Decile: Huge fan of this one — post hurts, and she doesn’t have to be fully cranked up to win. Short odds, but could be best 3-year-old filly in the country.

Race 10

5 Notte D’Oro: Very nice horse getting better and will win this with his best.

8 Samian: Gets first run on the speed and could have lead at big odds in stretch.

9 Kittens Dumplings: Coming back off extended layoff but class of the field.

Race 11

6 Savoy Stomp: Ran into a bias in last — is better than that and gets Lasix first time Saturday — strong contender.

4 War Story: Should get good position and first run on leaders — talented.

2 Tiznow RJ: Huge win last out — sire’s progeny get better with age so improvement is expected at some point.

11 Eagle: One of my Derby picks but gets bad post and can’t think that trainer has him fully cranked for this one, but watch out in the La. Derby — this is a runner.

Race 12

8 Knock it Off: Beat a next out winner in first race and could improve.

5 Zippit Yankee: Drops in class and will be on the lead for Riquelme in here.

1 Appomatax Station: Shows some good works — gets Mena — could run in the money at big odds.

Around the Track

It is Derby Kickoff Saturday, and the Silverbulletday and the Lecomte have attracted not only a strong group of three year fillies and colts in their first starts on the road to the Kentucky Oaks/Derby but some of the best in the country. Top Decile is ranked near the top or at the top of every 3-year old filly list after a strong second in the Breeder’s Cup for Al Stall, Jr. And, Eagle, a 3-year old colt, is also ranked in nearly everyone’s top 5. Saturday’s races are simply first steps for both of these and neither drew good posts but their talent could overcome bad posts.

Best Bet

Our Best Bet today will be in Race 11- # 6 Savoy Stomp. I follow Gulfstream Park and this horse made a nice move against a track working against him in his last. He gets first Lasix on Saturday and is talented. Good luck, and may they all come home safely.