McLean’s Ellis Park “Spot Plays” for Sunday, Aug. 18

Well, well, well…

Deep subject, right? Or so the old joke goes.

I do love The Wishing Well Restaurant in Saratoga so very, very much. One of the my favs in the entire world. The tomatoes and the sweet corn? To die for. Seriously. They are so good. And, the rest of the meal? Fabulous, no matter what you pick.

And, then to come back into the main bar and have the impromptu karaoke at the piano. This was karaoke before karaoke was cool. Can remember many an industry leaders standing there and warbling a few tunes.

Yet, we digress.

On Saturday, we made 7 selections. One was washed off the grass, so we were down to 6. I had one winner — in a dead heat in the G2 Lake Placid. I had two more seconds and a third. Only one race did I bomb.

But the key was the 7th, when I keyed my top choice over & under in the exactas. The exacta returned $92.00 for each $1 play.

Did you have it with me? Please tell me you did. What a nice way to pick your head up and smile.

Today, we move to Ellis Park and the “Pea Patch.” Love the barbecue in Henderson, KY. And, love the racing, too. Here are our selections for today:

Race 4: 2-1-7…This is a very nice MSW event for the 3YOs & Up going a mile over the main track, and a standout could be in this mix. Winnipesaukee (2) will be routing for the first time for a red-hot trainer in Brad Cox. The barn has hit with .29% of the 42 runners here this meet, and they do well with those stretching out for the first time, too. First time routers hit at a .25% clip. This one gets a hot rider here, too. Has won with .56% of the last 25 horses that he has ridden for this barn. And, if that isn’t enough, this one gets the blinkers for the first time and the barn scores with .23% of those. Had all kinds of issues in the last out here, and the show horse has already come back to win. Not much of a price, probably, but I go strong with the 2. And, I key over/under the “all button.”

Race 5: 6-4-2-3…What a nice allowance race here. My goodness. Could easily be the field for a Stakes event. I will go to the outside and land on another one from the Brad Cox barn — Peruvian Appeal (6). This 3YO Successful Appeal filly ran third in the G3 Victory Ride Stakes last time out at Belmont Park in July. Went way wide in that one, as the rider is known to do. Shortens up a bit for this one and that may be the only drawback for this deep, deep closer. Has won only once at this 6-furlong distance. Before the last out, though, she had won two in a row and was impressive in each. Upset Brewing (4) is another deep closer, and this filly has only 3 wins in 24 life starts for my great friend Buff Bradley. But…She has 11 seconds and 4 thirds. In three starts here, she has a win and a second. Will be running late, and hard. I def use her. Headland (2) is the ML favorite. In 7 races at this distance, she has 5 wins and 2 seconds. Tough to beat that. Is coming off a freshening, and the barn hits with .10% of those. But the work at Churchill Downs on Aug. 13? Very, very nice. Could be a pace presence and certainly will be the one to catch. I bet the 6-4-2 in one exacta. I key the 4 over/under all the numbers listed and bet across the board, too. Looking for some odds.

Race 6: 3-6/5-9/7-4-8…This is a 5-furlong sprint for the 2YO colts, and I will go with one of the hottest trainers around these parts and the Tiznow colt conditioned by Dale Romans — Continental Clash (3). This first time starter was purchased by West Point Thoroughbreds and the Albaugh Family Stables for a whopping $550,000 as a 2YO earlier this year. If you will remember, the Albaugh Family Stables already has a 2YO son of Tiznow that has turned a few heads in Dennis’ Moment. This one could add to the mix. Been training lights out. Barn has hit with .30% of the 27 starters here this meet and has an overall resume of 8-3-5. Rider has won with .29% of the 17 horses he has ridden for this barn in the last 60 days. Adds up for me. I bet the 3 to win/place/show and then box the 3-6 in one exacta. I will key the 3 over/under all the numbers listed.

Race 7: 4-1-3-8…A nice grass route here for the older guys, and I will go with Convict Pike (4), who will be making his second start of 2019. Was off from November until July 4, when he returned here and ran a tiring 5th. Was in the mix for much of that fray before faltering late. Should benefit from that exercise and be a bit fitter for this effort. Barn hits with .23% of those making the 2nd start off the layoff. Gets the hottest rider in town today, and despite the fact that he has never won at this distance in 5 tries, he does have a second and a third and has been facing tougher comp. Like the works on July 29 and Aug. 4 at KEE. Looks like he’s getting there. I bet the 4 across the board and then box the 4-1 in one exacta. I key the 4-1 over/under the 3-8 in two lesser versions.

Race 8: TwinSpires.com Ellis Park Juvenile Stakes…4-1/5-3-2-6…Rowdy Yates (4) is the ML favorite, and the 2YO son of Morning Line could be odds-on by the time this field hits the starting gate. Reasons to like this Oklahoma-bred, trained by the HOFer Steve Asmussen. Won on debut by nearly 5 and then almost captured the G3 Bashford Manor last time out at Churchill downs when extended to 6 furlongs. Will stretch to 7 today, and that will test this one’s speed endurance, for sure. Like the recent work pattern and will be the one to catch. But…I’m going with the youngster — Night Time (1). This 2YO son of Majesticperfection cost a whopping $210,000 at last year’s KEE September Sale. Must have looked the part, and now looks like he has the racing part to go along with it. Won by over 41/2 on debut here on June 30. Made all the race in that one. Goes from 5 furlongs to 7 today. But the works have been tremendous at Churchill Downs for the Dale Romans clan. If he can go the distance? He may be tough to handle. I bet the 1 to win/place/show and then box the 4-1 in one exacta. I will key the 4-1 over/under the 5-3-2-6 in two smaller versions.

Race 9: TwinSpires.com Ellis Park Debutante…1-9/4-7-8-10/2…Do yourself a favor before you make your final selections here and go back to 2018 and look at a 2YO filly trained by Tom Amoss. She won at Indy Grand by many, and then was shipped up to race at Saratoga to run in the G3 Schuylerville. Didn’t run much that day, and returned to run in the Ellis Park Debutante. She put on a powerful performance, and the rest, like they say, is history. That filly was Serengeti Empress. Today, Tom Amoss will saddle His Glory (1) in the Debutante. Can’t say that this 2YO daughter of Mineshaft is another Serengeti Empress — winner of the 2019 KY Oaks. But there are some similarities, to be sure. She won on debut at Indy Grand by over 81/2 lengths. She shipped to Saratoga. Ran 7th and was beaten many in the G3 Schuylerville a month later. That was in the mud, too. And, now she is at Ellis Park. Similar paths. Similar horses? Similar performances? Time will tell, but I’m game for trying. I will bet the 1 across the board and then box the 1-9 in one exacta. I will key the 1 over/under all the numbers listed. I’m a big fan of Tom Amoss. And, his horses.

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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