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 — is a partner in ttegames.net an online horse racing contest site. Follow him on Twitter: @BeychokRacing.

Picks made for fast track and firm turf

Race 1

10. Amaze Me Grace: Off a long layoff, working extremely well, draws Geroux.

8. Brisson: Very nice rally from off pace in last — could be getting good.

1. Inveniam Viam: Claim by Cox and won big off claim, and gets rail.

Race 2

2. Call the Ghost: First timer a kin to Cougar Bait, and trainer OK with this type of move.

8. Blonde at the Bar: Obvious horse to be at short odds after second-place finish.

Race 3

1. Factory of Faith: Extremely live here at the price and has the rail — could upset.

3. Emerald Pond: Back in Asmussen barn; must find a length or two but live.

Race 4

10. Bermuda Star: Turf win signaled an improvement and will be live here pressing.

4. Mr. Al’s Gal: Has done nothing wrong and is the one to beat on the lead.

6. Our Millie: Likes this track and will be running on late at the leaders.

Race 5

6. Araqeel: Has gotten very good of late and attracts leading rider for hot barn.

1. Trust Factor: Could not get to the nice winner in last and will save ground on rail.

Race 6

1. Jacks Snipe: Rail helps and, if able to save ground, should prevail here.

9. Imindycatbirdseat: Nice win in last and has two wins over the course.

11. True Emperor: Usable here at a big price based off first out win in January.

Race 7

12. Ever Special: Gonna bite on the one Cox horse that attracted Geroux off layoff.

2. Lipstickonmycollar: Sneaky good race due to greenness first out — draws rail here.

Race 8

6. Hawaakom: Has win over this track in a visually impressive win in January.

2. Iron Fist: Last was too good to ignore, although some in field have beaten him.

Race 9

11. Special Ops: No way this one stays 15-1 and, if so, bet win and keep punching.

1. Enterprising: No knocks; just usually wins from right off the pass and has good jock.

7. Punkin Rumble: Might have one more big run in him at large odds today.

Race 10

5. Vexatious: Filly took on colts in last, which is high-confidence move from trainer.

4. Corporate Queen: Confident move after running big race to highly talented filly.

Race 11

1. Patch: Calumet Farm might have another one in Derby if this one repeats last.

5. Monaco: Huge win in last and bred to be any kind for trainer Pletcher.

8. Girvin: No knocks on this one; just hard to bet at the morning-line price.

Race 12

9. My Friend Flavin: In career form here and willing to try one on turf at good odds.

6. Hail to the Nile: Willing to throw out that last one and expect this one to close today.

Race 13

6. Harbor Pilot: Has right running style for this race, loaded with early speed.

9. Our Wild Dancer: Should be able to lay off the speed here and make one run.

Race 14

7. My Pal Torres: In very good form to make the switch from dirt to turf.

5. Spring Value: Really nice win in last and has turf form to stand up to these.

6. Honeymoon Bridge: Got a win going longer in last and expect this one close today.

Race 15

1. Indy Ide: Can’t go too wrong betting the inside and Asmussen at the mile distance.

6. Hancock County: Beaten by some in here but has the back form to take this one.

11. Crooked as Can Be: Towers over the field on number power alone; Cox-trained.

Around the track

A record card for what was a great and improved Fair Grounds meet. Kudos to management for battling through tough times in the middle of the meet and for making the necessary changes to the turf course and backside. Also a big thank you to the stables — owners, trainers, jockeys — who decided to come down to New Orleans. Today’s big race is the Louisiana Derby, and I think Patch might be a very nice horse for a historic stable and owner Calumet. The local horse, Girvin, is the real deal as well, and I hope we see him in the Kentucky Derby in five weeks.

Best bet

Our best bet will be in Race 1: #1 Patch. His last was very good, and he might have some more upside left in him. Good luck, and may they all come home safely.