Pago Hop Stakes Starts Late Pick 4 at Fair Grounds

The $75,000 Pago Hop stakes is restricted to 3-year old fillies and this year’s edition has drawn a full filed of 14 to be run on New Year’s Eve at the Fair Grounds Race Course.  The about one-mile event over the Stall-Wilson turf course attracted seven stakes winners, topped by a pair of improving types with excellent back-class in Most Beautiful (GB, 5-1) and Mom’s On Strike (8-1) breaking from the far outside post. Those two will have their hooves full in their first starts at the New Orleans oval, as they take on a quartet of stakes-winning local course lovers in Princess Erindelle (20-1), Inconclusive (20-1), Pancake (30-1) and the race favorite Believe in Bertie (3-1).

Believe in Bertie is a homebred from the Klein’s. She’s a deserving favorite but faces many pressers as that’s her running style as well. She’ll have to break clean from the No. 12 post, but it will still be tough to get towards the lead with many others showing front-running speed. She likes the turf course at the Fairgrounds as she won like a wild thing Nov. 26 by nearly 6 lengths under a hand ride. But one thing to note, she’s never broke this wide and in her past several races she drew the inside and went to the front at the break.

Gianna’s Dream (4/1) is a filly from Twirling Candy. She runs like her father breaking like a rocket and running many competitors into the ground. She has six straight in the money finishes since the summer including four front-running wins. Gianna’s Dream has won on four different turf courses this year and tries to take her picture at the Fair Grounds for the first time with Florent Geroux aboard. Geroux won his 1,000th career race here Thursday. Gianna’s Dream is 2-for-2 at this 8 furlong distance, and running next to her is Frozen Hannah (12-1), who she beat in a stretch duel at Saratoga this summer. Frozen Hannah was 3-1 that day while Gianna’s Dream was 9-1, and Frozen Hannah has come back with another runner-up finish plus a win last time out Sept. 29 in a $50,000 claimer at Belmont.

Mom’s On Strike (8/1) nearly pulled the shocker at 51-1 last time out Oct. 15 at Belmont. She closed hard and was flying down the lane. She’ll find her way to the back again breaking from the far outside, but with a blistering pace she could benefit most if she can get clear coming home.

Princess Erindelle (20/1) may be sitting on a career effort at a huge price. She’ll be overlooked at the betting windows, but not by us. This one is regally bred for the weeds and has given good account of herself as well. She just needs the perfect pace setup to unleash that big move she has shown in the past including her stakes win here March 5. In a field filled with lots of speed, Princess Erindelle is one to watch in her seventh race at the Fair Grounds, but she’ll need to reverse her current form.

The remainder of the field for the 33rd running of the Pago Hop, which goes as the eighth of 11 races and first leg of the $0.50 late Pick-4, is comprised of multiple restricted stakes winner School Board Prez (20-1), Ready for Chianti (12-1), Nobody’s Fault (12-1), Always Right (12-1, La Peregrina (12-1), Motown Lady (12-1) and Pageant Material (20-1) is the also eligible.

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