“Honey, We’re Home!” McLean’s Full-Card Selections Return Today With Picks for Churchill Downs on Friday, the 13th

2019 Overall 928928/333-323-437
Win % of Top Pick35.88%
Payoff % of Top 3 Picks Overall39.26%
2019 Top Pick in the Money –632 of 92868.10%
Top Selection ITM / CD 234-35266.48%
Top Selection Win / CD 123-35234.94%
“Key Horses” @ CD 50-17-12-634.00%
“Key Horses” in 2019 165-64-34-2038.79%

“Honey, we’re home!”

After we finished the Spring/Summer Meet at Churchill Downs, the end of June, we took a couple of months to change the bulbs, refresh the batteries, and recharge the engine. After all, we had been handicapping the entire race card since Churchill Downs’ September Meet in 2018, and continued every race day until the end of June.

And, we have returned just briefly with a few “Spot Plays” at Saratoga in August, and, most recently, with the full cards at Kentucky Downs.

We are proud to say: “We Are Back.”

Refreshed. Ready to Go.

So, here we go by taking a look at Churchill Downs’ card on Friday, Sept. 13. Let’s hope we can bring some good luck on this “Full Moon” day/night.

1st: 4-3-6/7-2…The first race of the Churchill Downs’ September Meet kicks off at 12:45 p.m. ET, and it will be an Optional Claimer for the $20,000 tag. I will go with Lucy’s Town (4) on top. The 5YO Northern Afleet mare is coming off 2 straight wins and 5 victories in the last 6 starts. She gets a perennial top rider in Corey Lanerie. And, she has 2 wins and a third in 4 tries at the distance. She has never won over this strip in two previous runs, but she has never been this distance over this track, either. Lots to like right now, but she is really good right now, too. My pick. Zena Rules (3) has a legit chance in here, too. Has hit the board in each of the last 7 outs and has a 2-3-0 record in 5 starts here. Likes the home ground. Rider choice makes me a little nervous, but ran a huge one at Saratoga in the last out. Will be closing with a purpose. Lady Cleopatra (6) figures on paper, but has a 0-0-1 mark in 5 starts here. I think it better to use this 5YO Pioneerof the Nile mare underneath. I bet the 4 to win/place and then box the top 3 in one exacta.

2nd: 3-7-9/1/6-8-10…This is a MCL event for the gals and the price tag of $30,000. I go with Singsong Bird (3), who is coming in with 4 seconds and 3 thirds in 9 previous runs. This daughter of Goldencents has had her chances, and has figured out a way to lose. But does have a closing style that may fit perfectly at this 11/16-mile distance — and in her only try at this distance, she has a second. Has run well here in the past. Gets her regular jock back. The one to beat, IMO. Limage (7) drops into the MCL ranks for the first time, and the barn hits with .25% of those. Moves from the grass back to the dirt today, and that may help this 3YO daughter of Street Sense. Flashed speed over the sod last time out, and then spit the bit. Has returned to work well. Should be tougher today at the tag level. The Mallard Queen (9) will be making her first start for a new barn operation, which hits with .32% of those making the debut for the new trainer. Like the jockey choice and the 7-pound apprentice allowance. Could be tough in this spot. I bet the 7 — take note — to win/place/show and then box the top 3 numbers in the exacta. I will key the top 3 horses over/under the 1 in two smaller versions.

3rd: 1A-5-1/3/4-6-9…The entry of Tom Amoss looks awfully tough in this spot. One of the two is likely to be scratched, since the barn has named the same rider on both of them. I would prefer the 1A — Lontani (1A) — if I had my choice. This 4YO son of Giant’s Causeway goes for a barn that hits with .40% of those making the second start off a claim. Barn also hits with .28% of those making the second start off a layup. Solid rider takes the reins, and this one has the speed to be close throughout. Fra Mauro (1) is more than capable if he is the barn’s flag-bearer today. Will be moving up a tad in class and will have to shift from the grass over to the main track. Did run a good 3rd over the mud here last year, but has never been on fast dirt. I bet either the 1A (whom i prefer) or the 1 (if he is chosen) across the board. I then box the 1A-1 with the 5-3 in the exacta. I will key the 1A over (only) the 5-3-4-6-9 in another smaller version.

4th 2-6-3/5-10/12-7-11-4-9…Bajan Cash (2) looks the best in this heat. Will drop from the $20,000 claiming ranks to near the basement for this one. Never been on the market for this low of a price. Should wake up against this company, if I have my guess. Gets a top rider to take the mount. Has a second in 3 tries over this track and the last work was solid. Dark Arden (6) has been out 7 times this year with a win and 2 seconds. Was claimed two starts back by trainer/owner Steve Asmussen. Has since climbed the ladder a rung and won for fun. Now, he wheels right back for the same connections. In 10 starts here? Does not have a single win. But does have 5 seconds and a third. Must use underneath for me. I bet the 2 across the board and then box the 2-6-3 in the exacta. I key the top 3 numbers over/under the 5-10 in two smaller ones.

5th 2-8-(13)/10-1-4-6/(12)-8-7…This is the first turf event of the meet, and it will be contested at the 11/16-mile distance for the 2YO MSW fillies. I go with Dominga (2), who will be making the career debut for trainer Brad Cox. This daughter of Ghostzapper is out of a Dynaformer mare, and should be made for this turf course. Has been training super for a barn that hits with .22% of those making the career debut on the sod, and that’s with 110 clicking that meter. Mizzen Beau (8) ran a solid one at Ellis Park on debut on July 29. Was 4th all the way around and was beaten less than 2 at the wire. Has worked great since the first race, and the barn hits with .19% on the second career start. Don’t dismiss. She Can’t Sing (13) could be a contender if she breaks into the field from the AE List. Daughter of Bernardini nearly pulled off the win in the debut on Aug. 10 at Arlington Park. Look for more next time out. I bet the 2 to win/place/show and then box the 2-8-13 in one exacta. I will key the 2 over/under all the numbers listed in two smaller versions.

6th: 1-1A/6-3-7/4-5…My first “Key Play of the Day” comes right here with an entry. Two for the price of one. What a bargain. Both Recruiting Ready (1) and He Hate Me (1A) figure to be right there at the wire. The duo, trained by Stanley Hough, had the gas to get motivated early in the proceedings. And, each appear to love the distance of 6 furlongs, too. The former is 5-2-2 in 12 starts — and is coming off a G1 race at Del Mar. The latter has a 2-1-1 mark in 5 starts at the distance, and nearly won the Tale of the Cat Stakes at Saratoga last time out on Aug. 9. Look for both of these to be nipping at the wire late. I bet the 1-1A across the board (hoping to get them both on the tab). I will key the 1-1A over/under all the other numbers listed in the exactas.

7th: 4-5-10/1/12-2-13-14/3-8-7…This is a MSW event going a flat mile for the 2YO fillies. I go with Flatoya (4), and I love the 5-1 ML odds. Gets the top rider in these here parts, and only lost by a head when sprinting in the career debut. Barn hits with .16% of those that make the second trip to the starting gate, and what a nice work here on Sept. 6. Looks to have all the ingredients. Crusin Alone (5) was the beaten favorite for the Brad Cox barn last time out at Ellis Park. Trainer scores with .31% when the beaten favorite returns to the races. This one will get the blinkers for the first time today, as well, and the barn hits with .25% of those. Work at Ellis Park on Sept. 8 was very nice. Gets a top rider up. Beautiful Trauma (10) will get the saddle from Tom Amoss and she looks prepared to move forward — a lot — off the career debut at Ellis Park on Aug. 9. Hit the gate at the beginning of that one, and never really uncorked a run. But the work here on Sept. 6 is very solid and she may be much better the second time out. Beware. I bet the 4-10 across the board and then I box the 4-5-10 in one exacta. I will key the 4-10 over/under the 5-1-12-2-13-14 in two smaller versions.

8th: 7-5-1/2/3-8-10-9/4-6…This is a high-priced Sprint event for the 3YO Fillies & Up. Very nice and solid field across the board, but I go with Summer Delivery (7) as my “Upset Special of the Day.” The 3YO daughter of Twirling Candy is sired by one of the hottest young stallions around. Broke the maiden last time out, which was way back in March at Oaklawn Park. But the runner-up that day came right back to win. The race before? Summer Delivery ran second to a filly by the name of Lady Apple. She shows up in the KY Oaks, and is a handful. If Summer Delivery can rediscover that form — and there’s no reason to believe she can’t — then watch out. The party may be over. Gets Corey Lanerie up, too. My pick. Inthemidstofbiz (5) ran a winning one on debut at the Fair Grounds back in late December. Been away from the aisle since then, but has been training lights out for the barn of Wayne Catalano. Could be a handful if prepared off the bench. Diamond Crazy (1) has run two really good ones in a row. Broke the Maiden here in late June. Jockey returns for the third time, and he has a win and a second in the two previous attempts. I bet the 7 to win/place/show and then box the top 3 numbers in the exacta. I will key the 7 over/under all the numbers listed, and will key the 7-5-1 over/under the 2 — all in smaller amounts.

9th: 2-5-11/1-9/10-4/7-8…The feature of the night is a 11/16-mile contest over the main track. I go with Alkhaatam (2) in what should be a hotly contested event. This 4YO Tapit colt has not fared well in the last two, but I can forgive each of those. One was the G2 Stephen Foster Stakes against the likes of Seeking the Soul, and the other was a Stakes event over the grass. Lost that one by less than 2. Now returns to the dirt, and this one has a win in two starts over this main track. Love the rider choice here. Should move this one up. Captivating Moon (5) is a grass expert so far in the career, but will be moved over to the main track for this one today. Barn hits with .22% of the last 55 to make this surface transition. Gets a top rider who has experience on this one. In 15 lifetime starts, Captivating Moon has a record of 2-6-4. Best to play underneath, right? Own Agenda (11) could be a surprise contender in this one. The 4yo First Defense colt is trained by a very talented young lady that used to toil for Chad Brown. She is on her own now, and is starting to gear it up. This colt has hit the board in 5 of the last 6. Don’t dismiss this one. This lady can train, and this horse can run. Dangerous combo. I bet the 2-11 across the board and then box the 2-5-11 in one exacta. I will key the 2-11 over/under the 5-1-9-10-4 in two smaller versions.

10th: 2-4-10/1/3-7/6-5/7-12…The last race of the day is a 7-furlong event for 3YOs & Up at the MSW level. I will go bullish on Young Phillip (2), who comes in with a record of 0-2-1 in the first 4 career starts. Ran 4th last time out at Churchill Downs in late June, but was beaten by a real good one and the “show” horse came right back to win the next out, too. Gets a huge rider switch for this one, and the works have been spot on. Look for this one to run really well fresh. Barn hits with .27% of those that are returning as a beaten favorite, too. Dizzy Sight (4) gets tagged with an 8-1 ML odds, and that is very enticing and intriguing. The 3YO gelded son of Twirling Candy goes for a trainer coming off a really solid Saratoga and KY Downs race meet, respectively. This one ran 2nd on debut at Ellis Park on Aug. 10. Working great for this one, too. Dinar (10) is another from the barn of Cherie DeVaux. This one is training well, and has a couple of nice runs in the first 3 starts, too. Was very wide in the last out and gets a new rider today. Take note. I bet the 2 to win/place/show and then box the top 3 numbers in one exacta. I will key the top 3 numbers over/under the 1 in two others.

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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