McLean’s Picks For This Evening at Churchill Downs

Gene McLean has put together his picks for today’s races at Churchill Downs. No one in this industry has more experience or talent in reviewing, forecasting and handicapping Thoroughbred racing.

1st: 4-3-1…Reride (4) gets the nod here in the 2YO sprint at 41/2 furlongs.  Comes from the Steve Asmussen barn, who fires at .19 percent with the babies.  This one is a homebred for the Winchell Thoroughbred LLC and they know what they are doing.  Just Like Richie (3) comes into this one for a trainer who hasn’t won a race all year and may not win, again, today.  But this one ran third to Mo Diddley, who is a good one for the Casse barn and is being pointed to a stakes race here.  I bet the 4 to win/place and then wheel over/under the “all button.”  I hit the 4-3 exacta OK here, too.

2nd: 4-6-5-2-1…Indy Awesome (4) comes into this one off three straight impressive performances and I see no reason why he shouldn’t make it a fourth.  Fits well with these and has the meet’s top rider.  Solid workout after the last race indicates all cylinders are hitting.  Big Kick (6) goes for a top trainer, who clicks with the new rider.  Lost to a couple of these in his last try and comes from the clouds.  If he gets up, he has to have a little racing luck.  Louies Flower (5) won his last and is all speed.  Will make the front in a race that does not have a lot of early pace.  And, he is 1-for-1 at Churchill Downs.  This one clicked off three in a row last year, so knows how to win right back.  I bet the 4 to win/place and then box in the exactas with 4-6-5 and the 4-6-2.

3rd: 1-6-5-4…Swordfish (1) gets a tepid nod in a race that is hard to figure.  This one does get another drop for the Asmussen-Winchell connection, but does have one huge equipment change – picks up rider Corie Lanerie.  May be enough to push this one – which cost $330,000 – into the winner’s circle.  Can’t Remember (6) is trained by Chris Davis, who recently went out on his own.  Ran good at Indiana with the addition of blinkers for the first time in his last out.  The question here is did the company up north or the blinkers help the most?  Probably both.  Hay Listen Up (5) is one that prefers the front end and gets a new rider in the personable Jon Court.  Gets a huge drop from $50K to $20K and needs it.  I bet 1 to win/place and then wheel over/under the rest of the numbers listed.

4th: 2-6-1-5…Scatter Gun (2) is trained by Neil Pessin, who is having a decent meet here.  This one will want the lead for the 1 mile grass event, but the horse to her immediate outside will want the same.  If they do not duel, then Scatter Gun may have a chance to last here.  Queenofthepalace (6) is a New Zealand-bred, who likes to come from the other end of the action – way out of it.  She will be rolling late and if Lanerie can time it right, she may roll right on by towards the end.  I go with the 2 to win/place and then box the 2-6-1 and the 2-6-5.

5th: 6-1-2-5-7…Rosie My Rosie (6) has failed to fire in the last two, but gets a huge drop in this one and gets back to her preferred surface.  If she can find the same stride she had at The Fairgrounds back in March?  She handles these.  C Islandsurprise (1) was “bottled up” in her last and came with a late surge to just miss.  Tries the same kind here and with better luck could hit.  Merilore (2) held off the prior one in the stretch duel.  If you like one of them, you have to like both.  I bet the 6 to win/place and then box the 6-1-2 and the, get this, the 1-2-5.

6th 1-7-5-3-4…One Sock Mauk (1) hasn’t been overly impressive in his last three tries, but gets much softer competition today.  As they old timers used to say, “the best hop is a drop.” Joey B (7) gave it a shot at this level in the last and may be closer today, and Bud’s Bayonet comes into this one off a huge layoff and a huge drop.  If trainer Troy Newton can get this one ready, he rolls.  I bet the 1 to win/place and then box the 1-7-5 and, get this, the 1-5-3.

7th: 3-5-1-2-6…Grandpa’s Dream (3) ran a huge one against Hollywood Handsome (who just so happens to turn up in the Belmont Stakes this weekend) in his last.  Nearly held held to win that one after fading fast in the Arkansas Derby.  This one is the best of the bunch in here, if he can measure his speed.  Ntestinalfortitude is a huge favorite ML (4-5) for trainer Dale Romans after spiking a fever with a 90 Beyer Speed Figure in last.  Ran off to an 111/4-length win to break his maiden.  He is either that good, or he will hit a wall when facing winners for the first time today.  Starship Zeus (1) has only two wins in 30 lifetime starts, but does like to pick up the change with 8 seconds and 6 thirds.  Curlins Vow (2) is a consistent sort, and Burganmeister (6) broke his maiden last out after the addition of glasses.  I bet the 3 to win/place and a solid 3-5 exacta box.  I then wheel the 3-5 over and under the rest of the numbers.

8th: 3-2-6-1-7…Marksman (3) caught a tough one in his last and you have to toss that one.  The drop here has to help.  Has speed in a race with a fair amount of pace.  If he can rate with Lanerie in the saddle, then he could stick around a little longer.  Archangel Rose (2) is a dead closer and the pace here may set it up perfect for this one.  Closed well in his last, but bumps up a level.  Young American (6) was nominated to the Triple Crown, so they had high hopes here at one time.  Returns to the grass, where he might excel.  Alittlevodka (1) normally goes a long way, but in this case he normally does not.  Likes the lead.  Doesn’t like to last.  May grab a part.  I bet the 3 to win/place and then wheel over/all the “all button.”

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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