Chok’s choices

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.

Picks made today for fast track and off turf.

First race

7. Freddie One Bite: New to Sharp barn stays at same level: may have needed last.

4. Rebel Heart: Will be off the pace and hoping for a hot pace battle up front.

second race

8. Indys Half Moon: Running against better and will find competitors easier today.

3. Ide B E Z To Enjoy: Nothing wrong with comeback race just missing by scant nose.

third race

2. Reine de Animeaux: Two races have been faster than others: solid choice in here.

1. First Reunion: Gets the rail and back to the dirt for third start.

fourth race

5. Nice Number: Dirt is no problem for this one and trainer having terrific meet.

9. Zooming: Offered for sale — for lowest price yet — can win from outside.

On turf selections: 5-9.

fifth race

8. Condestable: Second start off the claim is key stat for trainer Amoss here.

3. Reigning Catfish: Last dirt start was a corker and can win this if repeated .

sixth race

5. Silver Lode: Nice win in Illinois stakes in last: not disgraced at Keeneland.

9. Banner Waving: Entered for dirt only has nice win in last over the track.

On turf selections: 1-2.

seventh race

6. Rocket Time: When this one is right he is very very fast.

2. Irish You Well: Gets some class relief out of stakes company.

eighth race

12. Connors Ace: Think this one will draw in off the Also Eligible list and win.

13. First Bull Run: Trainer Pish is quietly having a good meet and this one fits here.

On turf selections: 2-1.

  • inth race

6. Big Hearted Gal: Willing to give this one a shot with third start off the layoff.

5. Aut’s Rae T: Ran well in debut but digressed in next out but both starts competitive.

Around the Track

Let’s take a look at the trainer and jockey standings heading into 2016. Trainer Michael Stidham has opened up a slight lead over nearest rival Joe Sharp in the race for leading trainer. Stidham has saddled 17 winners to Sharp’s 12, but there is a large group chasing with 10 plus wins including reigning title holder Tom Amoss, Bret Calhoun and the nation’s leading trainer in wins, Karl Broberg. The jockey race is going to be tight as Colby Hernandez leads 31-25-24 over Florent Geroux and Richard Eramia, respectively. James Graham, last year’s meet leader, announced this week he will be returning to the Fair Grounds following a stint at Santa Anita and Del Mar.

Best Bet

Our best bet today will be in Race 5 — No. 8 Condestable. Some trainers excel with first off the claim, but Tom Amoss is other worldly winning with horses second time off a claim and this one fits that bill. Good luck and may they all come home safely.