The Gene-yes Drops a Bomb

Churchill Downs
Churchill Downs. Photo Credit: Erin Pettigrew

James Taylor sings that he has “seen fire and he’s seen rain”. Today, I witnessed a fire IN the rain, a fire that burned white hot at the finish line of the 2017 Kentucky Oaks.

My business partner and lifelong friend, Gene McLean, who refers to himself in third person as “The Gene-yes”, had been strutting around The Pressbox office all week long, crowing about Abel Tasman, the Baffert trained bay filly with “Big Money” Mike Smith aboard. Over and over, he beat that Tasman drum, until finally he put his money where his mouth was. He “dropped heavy” on her, both for himself and for a couple of his weary and forlorned staff. And he convinced me, a relative novice, to show some faith in his assessment as well. And I did. I used the 13 in several different scenarios, but most importantly, on her nose.

Fast forward to around 6:22PM, as the official results and payouts were posted for this year’s Oaks. Suddenly, I felt a strange sensation as the ground shook and the trees swayed. I looked at my wife, her eyes wide with amazement.

“What in the name of Jimmy Gaunce was that?” she blurted out. And then my phone lit up like Rudolph’s red nose after a shot of O’Fo.

Lo and behold, it’s “ The Gene-Yes” on the line. And with a swift look at the official payout, I could certainly understand his insanity. “We hit em in the mouth, Watts!” he yelled. “Now, maybe they will listen! We’re back, baby! We’re baaaack!!!”

And in those few seconds after doing the math, I realized what I’d felt below my feet just minutes before.

“The Gene-Yes”, my friends, had dropped a bomb.

Join us at for your Derby picks, opinion and more. Maybe he’s got another bomb in the bay for the Derby!

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

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