Father & Son McLean’s “Select” Selections For Del Mar, Saratoga, Ellis Park on Saturday, Aug. 18

Day Results9-3-4-5
2018 Overall 1178436-434-527
Win % of Top Pick37.00%
Payoff % of Top 3 Picks Overall39.53%

We had a lot of rain wash us off the turf at Saratoga on Friday, and the races that remained on the soft sod created a number of scratches. As a result, we ended up with 5 “No Bets” at The Spa yesterday.

We did end the day out at ole’ Del Mar with a couple of really nice wins, and exactas. So, as a result, we finished the day with 3 wins and exactas that paid $10, $24.80, $6.90, $9.60, and $7.00 for $1 plays.

Today, we spread out around the country, but we will key on Del Mar — on Pacific Classic Day. My son, Brad, a handicapper of the highest order (or so he thinks) will join me for a few of the top races at the one place on earth where the “Surf Meets the Turf.” Junior, as I like to call him, can is a lot like a blind squirrel. He, too, can find an acorn every now and again. So, I will challenge him to a bit of a contest in the races we go head-to-head. Whoever scores the highest with their top pick only in the races that we pick will get bragging rights for — let’s say a day. And, the loser has to pay $50 to the charity of the winner’s choosing. How about that Brado?

I will earmark those races below.

Here’s a closer look at today’s races:

Del Mar Race Course:

1st: 3-6-7-4-5…I will keep on the top two numbers in this group, led by True Validity (3). This one will get the blinkers for the first time today from a trainer that hits with .25% of those getting the shades the initial time. She did ran third behind the brilliant Brill last time out, as well. Shouldn’t have any of that caliber in this tilt. Gets a new rider in the irons today, as well. Ennui Alrabb (6) will get the saddle in the afternoon for the first time today, and the trainer hits with .12% of those making the career debut. Sire wins with .16% of first timers, and the dam has 3 winners from 6 starters to date. Like the most recent work here on Aug. 10. Chance. Devils Dance (7) is moving up in class after running a nice second at a high-end MCL event here on July 26. Rider off to an extremely slow start here, but this one did turn in a nice work on Aug. 11. I bet the 3 to win/place and then key the 3 over/under the 6-7. I key the 3 over (only) the 4-5.

4th: 3-2-5-8-11-4-6…Another race where I will key the #3 horse — this time with Secretary At War (3). The 4YO War Front colt will be making his West Coast debut for new trainer Richard Baltas. He wins with .15% of those making the first start after the barn switch. But this one has been facing some stiff competition on the East Coast and I love the recent works since moving to Del Mar. Gets a top rider today, and the trainer hits with .30% of those returning to the races for the first time as a beaten favorite. I bet the 3 to win/place/show and then key the 3 over/under the 5-2-8. I then key the 3 over (only) the 11-4-6.

6th (Papa McLean): 1-6-8-11-12-10-2-9…G2 Del Mar Handicap…I will key on an upset pick in here with Kenjisstorm (1). This one has raced over this grass course six previous times, and has only one win, but he appears to be a much better horse this year than the one that performer a year ago. In three starts so far in 2018, he has a win; a second; and a third. The worst he has been beaten is 13/4-lengths — two back in the G3 American Stakes at Santa Anita. And, he had trouble at the top of the stretch, going 4-wide, in that one. Gets Gary Stevens in the saddle for the first time today. And, I’m betting that the HOF rider can boost this one’s chances to the wire. Itsinthepost (6), despite the fact that he ran such a poor race in the last out here on July 22. He finished 9th that day — beaten 7 lengths — in the G2 Eddie Read. That was his first race since May, and one could make an excuse for that. But he has raced 10 times over this grass course to date. And, he has never won. As in ever. Very vulnerable in my opinion today. Ashleyluvssugar (8) is now 7 years young, and he has not hit the board in any of the three races he has tried so far this year. But he does like this grass — with a win and four seconds in 7 previous races over the sod here. I like him underneath the top 2 in this spot today. I bet  the 1 to win/place/show and then key the 1 over/under the 6-8-11-12. I will bet the 1-6 over the 10-2-9 in a smaller version.

6th: (Jr. McLean): 6-8-9-1…

7th: (Jr. McLean): 5-6 over the 2-3 (Papa McLean): passes here.

8th: (Papa McLean): 6-9-4-5-7-12-8-10-1…G1 Del Mar Oaks…I will focus on the top two numbers in my selections, led by Paved (6). This one travelled across the country to try the G1 Belmont Oaks in the last out, and that didn’t fare too well. After being stuck down on the inside early on, she was moved out and fanned 7 wide into the stretch. Lost all chance. Before that, though, she had three wins in the previous four races and had never been off the board. Gets a new rider today who is red hot, and the works here recently are spot on for this trainer. Has two wins in three tries at this distance. Love her in the spot. Ms Bad Behavior (9) is a horse that I have had on my “Watch List” for quite some time. Love this daughter of Blame, and she has responded quite nicely in her 9 lifetime starts to date. Has hit the board in 8 of them, with 3 wins to boot. Nearly won the last time out over this grass course on July 21 in the G2 San Clemente. Was the favorite that day and this trainer hits with .30% of those returning as a beaten fan’s choice. Look for this one to stalk the pace early on, and she has one second in the only try at the distance. I bet the 6 to win/place/show and then box the 6-9 solidly in one exacta. I key the 6-9 over the 4-5-7-12-8.

8th: (Jr. McLean): 4-6-7 and use over 8-9.

9th: (Papa McLean): 8-10-9-7-5-6-1-4…This is another race where I love the top two picks in the sequence, led by Dueling (8). This 2Yo colt by Violence is trained by Jerry Hollendorfer, who is having a super nice meet here in Southern California (.23% winners from 57 mounts to date). This one was second on debut to a very nice colt, and was supported at the windows, as well. Love the work here on Aug. 11. Any improvement at all today and he should be very tough to handle, and the trainer hits with .20% of those making the second career start. Closed strong in the debut. May be too tough to hold off today. Game Winner (10) is a first timer from the barn of Bob Baffert. He hits with .27% of those kind, and this one is training very nicely for the debut. Son of Candy Ride who is owned by Gary and Mary West. Adds up. I bet the 8 to win/place/show and then box the 8-10 solidly in one exacta. I will key the 8-10 over the 9-7-5-6 in a smaller version.

9th: (Jr. McLean): 7 key and bet over 8-10.

10th: (Papa McLean): 5-6-2-4-3-7…G1 Pacific Classic…I will key Accelerate (5) in this spot today. In five lifetime tips over this dirt track, he has managed to finish first on three occasions, and run third once. He towers over this group with his speed numbers, and he has the perfect running style to fit this configuration and track layout. Will get a new rider today, since Victor Espinoza is still recovering from his significant injuries incurred in an early morning training accident a couple of weeks ago. But this one figures to be awfully tough in this spot today. I will go to a longshot as my runner-up possibility in Beach View (6). This one looks to be at the top of his game right now and he romped when moved to the dirt in the last are here in the G3 Cougar Handicap. If he can hold that form today, he may be tough, as well, at a price. I bet the 5 to win/place and then key the 5 over/under the 6-2-4. I key the 5 over (only) the 3-7 in a smaller version.

10th: (Jr. McLean): 5-1-2

11th: (Jr. McLean: 12-4-8

Saratoga Race Course:

2nd: 2-6-7-8-10-4-5-3-9…A wide open affair here, but I will concentrate on the top 3 numbers in this grouping, led by Perceived (2). This 2YO Blame colt is trained by Chad Brown, who is having a superb meet here again, and has hit with .26% of grass runners this year — and that is with 1,961 of them. This one is training OK for the debut, but should love the distance and the connections did pay $200,000 for this one as a Keeneland September Yearling last year. Worthy of a shot. Southern Bridge (6) rallied well in the first time start here in July. Rolled late in that one to get within 2 lengths at the wire, after a slow beginning. A little better break today, and this one may not be left with too much to do late. Like the works since the race,e too. Top rider returns to the saddle. Gunslinger (7) has raced three times in Ireland, with a nice second in the last start. Trainer hits with .20% of those making the first start for the new barn. I bet the 2-6 across the board and then box the top 3 numbers in the exacta. I key the top 3 over the 8-10-4 in a smaller version.

4th: 2-7-4-5-8-3-1…Principled (2) is a first time starter for the barn of Todd Pletcher, who hits withy .22% of these types. This one is working quite nicely for the debut, and will get the barn’s go-to rider in the saddle. Well bred son of Medaglia d’Oro, who is out of a Stakes Winning mare. Looks ready. Ahead of Plan (7) is a first timer for Chad Brown, who scores with .19% of those making the debut run. Another who is working well, and the dam of this one has 2 winners from 3 starters to date — including one Stakes Winner. Hot rider gets up. Endorsed (4) will make his debut for a top outfit. The dam of this one is Dance Card, a Stakes winner with multiple accomplishments, as well. Training well for the debut and the trainer hits with .14% of those making the first start. I bet the 2-4 across the board and then box the top 3 in the exacta.

6th: 5-3-2-7-8-10-1…Wild Medagliad’oro (5) closed very well in the debut run to nearly get the job done for trainer Mark Casse. Returns with some super works since that race, and with a little better start to this one, he could be very tough to handle in the late going. Trainer hits with .17% of those making the second race, and the rider has hit with .20% for this barn in the last 5 tries together. Most Mischief (3) is a son of Into Mischief, who is having an incredible year as a stallion. This one has run two thirds to start the career, but has faced some tough customers in each of those. Working well here since the last race, and may improve a bit off the last race. I bet the 5 to win/place/show and then box the 5-3 in one exacta. I key the 5 over/under the 3-2-7-8, and then key the 5 over (only) the 10-1.

8th: 6-1-4-3-7-2-5…G2 Lake Placid Stakes…Rushing Fall (6) has never been worse than second in five career starts to date, and she has run second only once. This Champion filly of a year ago, lost the G3 Edgewood Stakes by just a neck, but made the lead from the early going in that one, and that was a bit unusual for this daughter of More Than Ready. She has been given a little time off since that race at Churchill Downs on KY Oaks Day, and looks to be training superbly for the return. The trainer hits with .29% of those coming back from this type of layup. My solid pick to get the job done here. I bet the 6 to win/place and then key the 6 over/under the 1-4-3. I key the 6 over (only) the 7-2-5 in a smaller version.

9th: 8-2-3-7-4-1-5-6…G1 Alabama Stakes…I am predicting an upset in this spot today, and I am going strong, too. While most people may zero in on Midnight Bisou (3), the 7-5 ML choice, I am going to focus my attention of Talk Veuve to Me (8). This one has never been worse than second in five career starts either, and was an impressive run-away winner of the G3 Indiana Oaks in her last start. The most impressive thing to me, though, was how she was running at the end of that 11/16-mile event. She was gearing up; not gearing down. And, I think the added distance for this 11/4-mile endurance test will be right up her ally. The heavy favorite, Midnight Bisou, on the other hand, doesn’t appear to want to go that far. At least, not so far. At least, not to me. So, I will also look at Eskimo Kisses (2), Coach Rocks (7), and She’s a Julie (4) as possibles to fill out the exacta with my top pick. If the favorite runs off the board — which will be tough to do, mind you — the exotics could pay handsomely. I bet the 8 to win/place/show and then I will box the 8-2-3 in one exacta. I will key the 8 over/under the 2-3-7-4-1 in two more, as well.

Ellis Park (Just My Numbers In Order):

3rd: 3-7-4-6-8…I key on the # 3

6th: 5-6-2-4-7-3

7th: 6-9-8-10-3-1-2…I key on the #6

8th: 5-9-7-3-10-4-2…I key on the #s 5-9

Good Luck & All the Best/Gene


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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