McLean’s Breeders’ Cup Picks for Friday, Nov. 2 at Churchill Downs

Day Results10-5-2-4
2018 Overall 1642611-591-729
Win % of Top Pick37.21%
Payoff % of Top 3 Picks Overall39.20%
Top Selection ITM / CD Nov 20-3066.67%
Top Selection Win / CD Nov 12-3040.00%
“Key Horses” @ CD Nov: 8-3-2-037.50%

We had a wet Thursday afternoon, but we didn’t get cleaned. In fact, we posted 5 winners out of the 10 races that we handicapped at Churchill Downs on the day. And, we picked up some intel in watching the card.

#1: Need to make the lead by the top of the stretch. Very few were able to make up ground on the wet track.

#2: You had to be well off the rail, in the middle of the track, really. Even at the break and especially in the lane. Rail horses were disadvantaged.

#3: Let’s hope that the rains cease and desist, and we can get closer to a dry track on the dirt. The grass? No matter what, I think it will be boggy; soft; giving; and, definitely, yielding.

Here is a closer look at two things:

  1. How We will Play the Breeders’ Cup Races on Friday — Starting with Race #5 on the card and post time of approximately 3:21 p.m.
  2. Our “Digs Deep” Columns on Each of the Friday Breeders’ Cup Stakes Events.

Friday’s Plays:

5th: 2-10-1/4-7-12-5/9-6-13…Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf Sprint…I will spread out in this event, and may even hit the “all button” in the horizontal plays (such as the Pick 3, Pick 4 or Pick 5). But the numbers are significant, in the order of preference for me. Obviously, this one will be contested over a very yielding sod — no matter when the rains end. As such, I think you have to give the edge to the Euros in this one, as well, despite the fact that the Americans normally do have more of a speed advantage. Soldier’s Call (2) will be running for the first time since finishing third in a G1 event in France on Oct. 7. Lost by a neck in that one. the two previous races, the Showcasing colt won. In 7 career starts, he has a record of 4-1-2. Never off the board. He will have to go another half furlong today that he has ever gone before, but that should be no concern. So Perfect (10) is another from across the pond, and this one ran third in a G1 event at Newmarket. Lost by less than a length, and has amassed a record of 2-1-1 in 6 previous races. Daughter of Scat Daddy will try the colts in this one, but she has done that before for trainer Aidan O’Brien. Strike Silver (1)  came from the clouds to win the Indian Summer Stakes at Keeneland in his first try over the sod. Bumped hard and stumbled at the gate of that one, and was left for dead at the beginning. Instead, this son of Violence found a way to rally late and get the job done. Remarkable run. I will bet the 2-1 across the board and then box the top 3 numbers in the exacta. I will key the 2-10-1 over the 4-7-12-5 in a smaller numbers. I will hit the “all button” in the Pick 3 and Pick 4.

6th: 1-2-6/3-12-4-5-14…Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf…I will go with a slight upset in this one, giving the edge to Concrete Rose (1). This one has run twice for trainer Rusty Arnold, and the daughter of Twirling Candy has been an impressive winner of each. the first came going 5.5 furlongs over the grass at Saratoga. The last coming in the G2 Jessamine Stakes going 11/16 miles at Keeneland. Both of the races were super impressive, because this one comes from well off the pace, and shows only a roar and a puff at the finish line. Won the Jessamine by 3 and was piling on late. Watch out for this one. The Mackem Bullet (2) has only won once in 6 starts — but she has 2 seconds and 2 thirds. And…She has been lights out against the likes of Fairyland in each of the last two Group Stakes. Lost by a neck in the last out, and was clipped by a nose in the time before. Will be stretching out for a route for the very first time. Newspaperofrecord (6) is an undefeated daughter of Lope De Vega and comes into this fight with a perfect record of 2-for-2 over a yielding track in New York. Has won the two previous career outs by nearly 7 lengths each time. So, let’s get this right? She loves the distance. Check. She loves the grass. Check. And, she obviously loves Churchill Downs Lily’s Candle (3) and Summering (12) both have a shot, as well, and I will definitely use the top five picks in any horizontal play I use. I bet the 1 to win/place/show and then box the top 3 numbers in one exacta. I will key the top 3 numbers over (only) the 3-12-4-5-14 in a smaller version. 

7th: 10-2-8/4-7-1-5-3…Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies…I will definitely use my top 2 selections in the horizontal plays, and maybe more, depending on whether I can find a “key” play in another leg. But there is no doubt. This may be one of the most thrilling, competitive, exciting, and bet-able races in the two day extravaganza. There are 4 or 5 fillies that could easily be the favorite (as Tom Amoss pointed out in our strategic and fun interview on Thursday). Bellafina (10) has ripped off three super-impressive wins in the last three tries. She drilled Mother Mother, who came right back to win over the Churchill Downs track this past Sunday. She beat Vibrance, another opponent in this affair. Daughter of Quality Road comes from a niche that clicks here. Serengeti Empress (2) won the G2 Pocahontas Stakes over this Churchill Downs track in September by nearly 20 lengths. And, she has proven in the past to run really fast; really well; and really strongly when given a freshener in-between races. That is exactly what her trainer decided to do, too, for this coming race. She is rested. She is fit. And, she is good. Damn good. I bet the 10-2 across the board in this spot and then box those two solidly in one exacta. I will key the 10-2 over/under the 8-4-7-3 in two smaller versions. I will key on the 10-2 in the horizontals.

8th: 14-5-2-12-6/4-9-11/13-7-8-10…Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf…A wide open affair that begs another “all button” play. If you can do that, then do it. If you can’t, I will focus on the top 5 numbers — led by Anthony Van Dyck (14). If not for the horrendous post position, this son of Galileo could be a lot stronger play, but he was served a huge disadvantage when they pulled his name out of the hat for this PP. This one has a 3-1-1 record in the first 6 starts, and has been super in both Ireland and GB. Trained by one of the best, and figures to love the give in the ground, since he has already won over a yielding surface. Line of Duty (5) is another Euro who has been spectacular in his form to date. Another son of Galileo has two wins and two seconds in just four starts. Will step it up significantly in class for this one today, but won over a soft ground in France. I have to use. Current (12) is a drop-dead gorgeous flaxen blonde who can run about as fast as he gets the ganders. He closed from nowhere to win the G3 Bourbon Stakes last time out, when it appeared he was hopelessly beaten. That type of running style can be beneficial in this spot, but he will need room late. I will bet the 14-12 across the board and then box the top 3 numbers in one exacta. I will key the top 3 over/under the 12-6 in two more smaller versions. I will hit the “all button” in the Pick 3s/Pick 4s.

9th: 9-8-11/6-8-4/7-12-1-2…Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Stakes…Another great event, but, then again, aren’t they all? They should be, and this year’s BC does not disappoint in either depth, or intrigue. I will go with the team of Bob Baffert, Joel Rosario, and Game Winner. The son of Candy Ride is undefeated in 3 races to date, and has won those 3 by a combined total of 113/4 lengths. This one was supposed to be behind his more heralded roommate Roadster. But he dusted that one in the Del Mar Futurity on his way to this event. Can either stalk or roar, and with all the speed in this one, he has the versatility to be able to play a waiting game better than others. Standard Deviation (8) is one of my long shot plays to hit the board here. This son of Curlin had absolutely no chance in the G1 Claiborne Breeders’ Futurity, when he drew such an outside post and fell so far off the pace. The Keeneland track layoff and the speed bias made his journey impossible. From the get-go. But he still rallied to be third against an improbable winner. He should/could get a better go today, and, if so, I think whip the other one from the Chad Brown barn — Complexity. Code of Honor (11) had a similar trip in the G1 Champagne last time out. Stumbled badly at the beginning, and lost all chance to make a serious run. Nearly went to his knees. Still, he recovered and was the only horse to make up ground on the front-running Complexity in that Stakes. If this sone of Noble Mission can get a cleaner break and a better trip, he may improve immensely for a HOF trainer and a HOF owner. Nice odds to boot. Don’t dismiss here and be found kicking yourself. This one won on debut for a trainer know throughout his career for taking his time with youngsters. Came out of a sprint to run in a G1 route. Aggressive. From a guy known more for caution. Take heed. I am. And, it demonstrates he must really like this one. I bet the 9-11 across the board and then box the top 3 in one exacta. I will key the top 3 numbers over/under the 6-8-4 in two more smaller versions.



If you have been watching the site, by now you know that we have been providing some “Deep Dives” into Friday’s Breeders’ Cup races. You can find those five at these links:

  1. Breeders’ Cup Juvenile:

McLean Digs Into Breeders’ Cup: Breeders’ Cup Juvenile

2. Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf:

McLean Digs Into Breeders’ Cup: Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf

3. Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies:

McLean Digs Into Breeders’ Cup: Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies

4. Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf:

McLean Digs Into Breeders’ Cup: Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf

5. Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf Sprint:

McLean Digs Into Breeders’ Cup: Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf Sprint

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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