McLean’s Selections for the Fair Grounds on Thursday, March 21

Day Results9-4-3-7
2019 Overall 425425/162-165-214
Win % of Top Pick38.12%
Payoff % of Top 3 Picks Overall42.43%
2019 Top Pick in the Money –298 of 42570.12%
Top Selection ITM / FG Nov-Mar 427-60470.70%
Top Selection Win / FG Nov-Mar 239-60439.57%
“Key Horses” @ FG Nov-Mar 125-53-24-1542.40%
“Key Horses” in 2019 97-37-18-1238.14%

Nabbed 4 wins out of 9 races on Wednesday and got some nice payoffs along way. Just trying to build toward a big day on Saturday. Here is a closer look at the Thursday card:

1st: 3/4-2/7-6…The first race of the day is a bargain bin claimer for the LA-breds only, and we will have our first Key Play of the Day with Memory Magic (3). This 4YO filly is trained by Karl Broberg, who has won with .27% of the last 1,829 horses that he has started. Wow. What a statistic. This one he claimed two starts back. Ran well to be second against much, much better last time out. Now, back at the basement price tag. If she runs anything close to the same race as the last two, she will be mighty tough to beat. Has hit the board in the last 4. I bet the 3 to win/place and then key the 3 over (only) the 4-2-7-6.

2nd: 6/3-(7)-4/5…The first turf race of the day and the second Key Play of the Day, as well. I will give that designation to Keep Talking (6), who will get the saddle from my ole’ friend Tom Proctor. The barn has only 1 win in 31 tries so far this meet, but this could, and probably should be #2. This 5YO Ghostzapper gelding has a 2-3-6 record in 18 career starts. But he has not won since 2017. Ran third here on Jan. 30, and if he improves off that effort — where he was extremely wide throughout — then he could be tough against this bunch. Barn hits with .15% of those dropping into the claiming ranks for the first time. I bet the 6 to win/place and then key the 6 over/under the 3-4-5.

3rd: 4-1-3/6/2-5…B W P Express (4) ran a nice second at this same level last time out. Pushed the pace from the get-go in that one, before tiring in the final strides. In 7 career starts, has a 2-1-0 record. Will play “catch me if you can” in this spot with a clean break. Day Dreamer (1) did NOT run well last time out when the connections tried him on the grass for the first time. Before that, though, he ran third and second against better company when on the dirt surface. Barn hits with .14% of those making the second start off the claim and he gets the rider back who piloted two starts back. Rail has been solid all meet — producing .19% winners at this distance. Civil (3) may spice up the odds rack in here and is on a bit of a roll right now. Broke the maiden two back and ran well last time out against winners for the first time. Has  been better when dropped into this price level. Gets a top rider for the first time today. I bet the 4-1 across the board and then box the top 3 numbers in the exacta.

4th: 7/2-1-6-10…The LA-breds only get this 5.5-furlong test over the main track and I will go with my third Key Play of the Day with Snapper Bite (7). Ran fourth against much better last time out for a barn that is contending for the “Trainer’s Title” this meet. Was claimed three back. Since then, won easily and then ran up the ladder last time out. Trainer and jockey have teamed up for a 6-6-3 record in the last 21 races. My solid pick. I bet the 7 to win/place and then key the 7 over the rest of the numbers in the exacta.

5th: 1-8-9/10-4-2/7-6…Card Shark (1) gets the nod here. Has hit the board in the last three and four of the last 5. A win and three seconds. Gets a top rider to take the mount today, and the rail is golden. Hermano T K (8) has hit the board in each of the last 4 and 5 of the last 6. Has a 1-1-1 record in 4 starts here. Barn scores with .15% on the third start off the layup. Gets a top dirt rider in the irons. Confederate Yell (9) has hit the board in each of the last 4 and 8 of the last 9. Has never won over this track, but has only raced here twice. Barn does hit with .33% of those making the second start off the claim — and that is with 70 starters. I bet the 1-9 across the board and then box the top 3 in the exacta.

6th: 2-6/7/5-4-8/3-1…The second grass event on the day and it will be contested at 7.5-furlongs. I will go with Dixie Brees (2) in this spot. Goes for a red-hot trainer this meet. Barn has scored with .34% of the 76 starters to make the gate this meet. Ran second by a nose the last time out against this same company. Came running in the late going and nearly got there. Will be tough if she can run the same race back. Savvy Shipman (6) may be the horse to beat in here. Has a 1-2-0 record in 5 starts at this distance and is 1-2-1 over the sod in her career. Gets a top rider up. I bet the 2-6 across the board and then box those 2 in one exacta. I key the 2-6 over/under the 7 in two lesser amounts.

7th: 8-1-7/5-3…Picacho Peak (8) ran third when getting LA-breds only last time out. That was the first start in 7 months. If he can improve off that start, then he may be tough in this spot. Rider has no wins in 16 starts this meet, but does have 4 seconds and 2 thirds. War Count (1) is a first time starter for a barn that hits with .14% of those making the debut run. Has worked well and the rail has produced a whopping .27% winners at this 5.5 furlong distance over the main track. Jack’s Got Game (7) goes for a barn that hits with .33% with those moving from the MCL ranks into the MSW level. Barn also has won with half of the 4 beaten favorites to start. Plus, one of my grandson’s is named Jack. So.  I bet the 8-7 across the board and then box the top 3 in the exacta.

8th: 1/9-1A/7-6-4/5-3-2…The third grass event on the day, and I will go to Minit to Stardom (1), if the barn decides that she is the one in this entry to make the gate. If she does, it will be her first start over the grass. The dam has produced one turf winner already, and this filly has some serious run to her. She has 3 wins and 2 seconds in 6 career starts. The only miss came in the G1 Test Stakes at Saratoga last summer. My next Key Play of the Day. I bet the 1 to win/place and then key the 1 over/under the 9-7-6-4.

9th: 11-6-4/5-1A-9/3-10…Calimambo (11) figures to be the one to beat, despite the wide post position. Ran third in a State-bred Stakes event two races ago, and the winner of that one came right back to win the next out. Had a rough trip last time out and the winner of that one has already returned to win, too. Should be a stalker with a nice kick, if granted a clean trip. I bet the 11 to win/place/show and then box the top 3 numbers in the exacta.

10th: 3-4/9-10-(12)/(13)-8-6/1-7-11…The last of the turf races carded today, and I go to Noble Companion (3) — who gets the services of James Graham for the first time. Nice rider switch here. Was claimed last time out, and the new barn hits with .11% of those making the debut for the new connections. Gets back to the grass after a trip over the slop last time out. In 1 grass race to date, ran a nice second — where beaten just a neck. Jemography (4) ran second last time out when moving over the sloppy main track. Gets the first chance at the sod, although the last two were scheduled for it. The dam of this one has produced three grass winners already and this one has the gas to move early and often. The one to beat. I bet the 3-4 across the board and then box those two solidly in one exacta.

11th: 9-6-10/8-2-7-5/11-1-4…The last race of the day is for the bargain bin price of $5,000 for the LA-breds only. Mr Carlos (9) could give James Graham a heck of a day and boost his chances of winning the meet’s “Rider’s Title.” This mount won last time out here on March 7 and now wheels right back for a barn that wins with .12% of those that won the last time out. Has a lot of early speed and could be another to make the circle tonight. Born Again George (6) pushed the pace last time out before tiring at the end. Barn hits with .27% of those returning as a beaten favorite, and with .11% of those making the third start off a layup. Looms large here. Mediamaker (10) is 12-1 ML odds, but could muster a late charge in this one. I bet the 9-6 across the board and then box the top 3 numbers in the exacta.

Good Luck & All the Best/Gene

(Comments to Come)

The horse broke well today,” Gaffalione said. “I had the horse inside, Dunph, going to the lead and then (Gun It) showed a little bit of speed. When I saw they were intent on going I just tried to get him back and got him to relax. He came back to me nicely and settled well down the backside. Got a little keen going into the far turn and wanted to move a little early. But I didn’t want to take too much away from him so I tried to sit as long as I could. He was waiting on horses down the lane but I kept him at task and there was plenty of horse there.”

“Mark (Casse, the trainer) and his team have done a great job,” Gaffalione said. “They’ve had a ton of confidence in this horse the whole way. It’s just an honor to be able to ride the horse. He’s just so professional, trains great and he’s a pleasure to be around.”

Tyler Gaffalione, Rode of War of Will to victory in the G2 Risen Star Stakes at the Fair Grounds
  • Gene McLean

    Gene McLean

    Gene McLean began his professional career in 1977 as a sportswriter and columnist for the Lexington Herald-Leader in Lexington, Ky., and was recognized as one of the state’s best writers, winning the prestigious “Sportswriter of the Year” honor in 1985. Now the President and Publisher of The Pressbox, McLean sets ...

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