McLean’s Picks from Around the Country Today

Gene McLean has put together his picks for today’s races across the country. No one in this industry has more experience or talent in reviewing, forecasting and handicapping Thoroughbred racing.

Churchill Downs

8th: 3-2-7…Holiday’s Angel (3) comes into this one for the hot duo of trainer Brad Cox and rider Shaun Bridgemohan. They have been on a tear together all spring and it has extended throughout this meet. They get the edge over Lady Constance (2) and Myositis Mystique (7). The latter is one that used to be in the barn of Tom Proctor and now goes for the top class barn of Tom Amoss. I bet the 3 to win/place and box in the exacta with the other two.

9th: 9-7-4…Durango Dan (9) used to be in the barn and the talented, young trainer Stephen Lyster. This one was claimed in his last out, a win, by Tom Amoss. He was entered before, but scratched out and goes in here. This one can really run, and, even though moves up today, has a big shot. Nice Not Nice (7) is owned by a great friend and was a tough out in his last, losing to Vibe. A gutty stretch run in that one, for sure. If he brings that came for trainer Buff Bradley today, he could be the one to beat. Rocky Tough (4) is a hard-knocker for trainer Rick Hiles, another friend. This guy doesn’t have many horses in his barn any more, but this is a good one. Gets journeyman Jon Court today and could be tough. I bet the 9 to win/place and box in the exactas with the other two.

Belmont Park

9th: 1-3-5-4-2…I love Vertical Oak (1) in this one today. Gets the “dot” (must use) in a good field of seven. Vertical Oak loves this distance – 6F on Dirt in the Jersey Girl Stakes – and goes for Jose Ortiz (winner of the Belmont yesterday) and trainer Steve Asmussen. Also, exits a key race. If you read her often, you know that I love Pretty City Dancer, trained by Mark Casse and ridden by Julien Leparoux. I think she finally gets back on her game today and makes a serious run. Have to use Cajun Delta, Sadie Be Good and lots of action will come on Yorkiepoo Princess. I bet the 1 to win/place and key both over/under the rest of the numbers in the exactas. Also, I box a 1-3 here.

Santa Anita

1st: 2-6-3…I love Social Taboo (2) in the first at Santa Anita, a 6F dirt sprint for fillies and mares. Gets the services of Rafael Bejanaro for trainer Ron Ellis. This one exits a key race, too, and you have to like her in this spot. I bet her to win/place and key over the 6-3 in the exactas and key in the pick 3 and pick 5.

5th: 3-6-2-4…Kenda (3) is my key in the Special Goddess Stakes today. This one has been working great for trainer Phil D’Amato and picks up Flavian Prat for the Hill Course. Storm the Hill (6) and Madam Dancer (2) could be tough, as well. I bet the 3 to win/place and then box the 3-6-2 and the 3-6-4.

8th: 3-7-4-1…I have touted Hitter’s Park (3) before (the day after the Derby, in fact) and I go back for more today. Trainer Peter Miller has been super hot all meet, and I think he spots his horse well today. I bet the 3 to win/place and wheel over / under the others in the exacta


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 ...

    Full Bio >

More From Gene McLean