As we draw closer to the official start of winter, let’s put the coats and shovels away for a while and focus on the racing season in the land of Mardi Gras.
Fair Grounds opened its 2019-’20 season Nov. 28 and racing will continue in New Orleans through March 29.
To help intrepid handicappers in studying the races at Fair Grounds, let’s take a look at what’s going on now and in the past in hopes of uncovering a few winners down the road.
Starting with the current meet, the trainer who has zoomed out of the gate faster than Mitole is Ron Faucheux.
In his first 23 starters at the meet, Faucheux has posted nine wins through Dec. 13, giving him a stellar 39% winning percentage to kick off the meet. From those 23 starters, 74% of them have finished in the money.
It’s early, but so far his best results have come on dirt, where he’s 9-of-20 for a 45% mark. Doing the math, that leaves him 0-for-3 on turf.
Also, Faucheux is not a one-hit wonder. He had 26 winners at the 2018-’19 meet, while winning at a 31% mark. He also topped the trainer standings during the first few weeks of the meet last year.
In 2017-’18, he posted 18 wins.
From that group, you’ll find many of the more reliable performers at the last two meets.
Cox has been the training champ the last two meets, each time winning 53 wins, according to Equibase. He won at a 26% clip last meet.
In an unusual quirk, Joe Sharp finished second both meets with 49 wins.
Cox is a trainer to watch on both turf and dirt. Last meet, his totals on the green topped his work on the dirt as he notched 30 wins of his 53 wins on turf for a success rate of 28%.
Sharp excelled on dirt at the 2018-’19 meet, winning 33 wins on dirt – to lead all trainers in dirt wins - and 16 on turf. He won at a 24% rate on dirt and 17% on turf.
So far, Sharp is off to a tardy start at the current meet, winning with just two of his first 24 starts, though, of course, the meet is still young.
At the opposite end of that spectrum is Matt Shirer, who has saddled two starters and has a pair of victories. You can’t do any better than that! Can you?
Overall, Cox and Sharp have dominated the standings since the 2017-’18 meet. Cox has 110 wins, while Sharp is next with 100. It’s then a long way back to Tom Amoss in third with 59 wins.
On the turf side, there were a few trainers who had solid numbers at the 2018-’19 meet. Mark Casse won 10 turf races and scored at a 22% average.
Wayne Catalano and Corale A. Richards had identical numbers on turf with seven wins in 23 starts with a sterling 30% win percentage during the 2018-’19 meet.
Hopefully, some of that info will help fund a memorable night on Bourbon Street