McLean Selections Perform Well at Fair Grounds / Graham Leads the Jockey Standings

Day Results9-4-3-7
2018 Overall 1835679-654-807
Win % of Top Pick37.00%
Payoff % of Top 3 Picks Overall38.87%
Top Selection ITM / FG Nov-Mar 27-3772.97%
Top Selection Win / FG Nov-Mar 18-3748.65%
“Key Horses” @ FG Nov-Mar 8-6-2-075.00%

It was a nice week to be handicapping the races at the Fair Grounds. And, for those that faithfully follow our selections, I hope that you were rewarded a bit, too. In the first week, we nailed 18 winners in the first 37 races. That averages out to a win percentage of a hefty 48.65%. Our top pick hit the board (finished first, second, or third) on 72.97%. And, our “Key Play of the Day” Selections? Well, they performed quite nicely, too. Of the 8 horses that we tabbed as “Key Plays,” 6 of them won and two ran second.

Not a bad week.

Racing returns this Thursday. And, we hope to keep the momentum rolling in the Big Easy. Come play along if you can.

(James Graham leads the Jockey Standings at the Fair Grounds this meet / Photo Courtesy of Keeneland)

Leading Jockeys at the Fair Grounds:

The race for the leading rider title at this Fall/Winter/Spring meet at the Fair Grounds is off to a heated battle in the early stages. The mammoth meet won’t conclude until March 2019, but as they say in baseball — every win counts.

James Graham, a 39-year-old transfer from his home in Dublin, Ireland, is off to the quickest start this meet. Through the first 71 mounts this meet, Graham has managed to carve out a nice record of 15 wins, 16 seconds and 14 thirds. His win percentage is an impressive .21%, and his horses have hit the board a whopping .63% of the time.

Graham rode his first winner in the United States in 2003 at the old River Downs in Cincinnati. That was on July 1 and came aboard the horse B.J. Star. Since then he has made a nice career traveling to New Orleans for the winter and working the Midwest throughout the rest of the year.

Graham got his first Stakes win in 2004 at Canterbury Park on Lassie on Berbatim. He got his first Graded Stakes win in the 2004 Arlington Breeders’ Cup Oaks, a Grade 3 event, with Lovely Afternoon.

The first Grade 1 win came in 2009 with Hot Cha Cha in the Queen Elizabeth Challenge Cup at Keeneland.

He has always been know for his patience, and being able to settle a horse and make a nice run at the end. And, he has always been known as a top grass rider in the markets that he has hung his tact. Now, though, Graham may be poised to show his entire versatility at this year’s Fair Grounds meet.

For now, he is off to a fast start.

Three wins behind in second is Mitchell Murrill, who has a 12-13-9 mark in 79 rides to date. Adam Beschizza, who had a tremendous meet in New Orleans a year ago when he switched his tack over from England and rode in the U.S. primarily for the first time, is 4 wins back in third. In 62 rides so far, Beschizza has a mark of 11-12-8.

Here’s a look at the top 25 riders so far:

1James Graham71151614$443,71021%4563%
2Mitchell Murrill7912139$315,21515%3443%
3Colby J. Hernandez8091713$285,41011%3949%
4Shaun Bridgmohan34965$261,92526%2059%
5Adam Beschizza621128$246,18018%2134%
6Marcelino Pedroza54748$202,47013%1935%
7Jack Gilligan64696$181,3859%2133%
8Joe Bravo22544$165,62023%1359%
9Miguel Mena47535$146,19011%1328%
10Ty Kennedy48563$134,58010%1429%
11Gabriel Saez33444$121,59012%1236%
12Sophie Doyle29723$110,50024%1241%
13Jose Valdivia, Jr.34316$99,4409%1029%
14Aubrie Green52325$73,2306%1019%
15Chantal Sutherland36432$66,19011%925%
16Florent Geroux6210$54,97033%350%
17Corey J. Lanerie14141$49,7907%643%
18Declan Carroll21072$39,5900%943%
19Ezequiel Lara48134$35,1202%817%
20Ricardo Santana, Jr.3101$30,08033%267%
21Channing Hill1100$22,800100%1100%
22Diego Saenz4011$14,6600%250%
23Manuel Chaves23101$14,0704%29%
24Carlos L. Marquez4011$13,2000%250%
25Thomas L. Pompell2000$5,4250%00%

(Data Courtesy of Equibase)

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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