1st: 4-5-6-1…Firstrate Proposal (4) is coming off a maiden victory at the $10K level and I normally hate betting these move ups in class. This one, though, appears to be in the best form and the trainer/jockey duo is very solid team. Easy win on the drop last out and not an ambitious spot here. Could return right back to the circle. Blueberry Shine (5) didn’t run a step last out and that’s not a good sign. But if she returns to her form prior to that, she can handle these. Cape Diva (6) gets a new barn and a fresh start, abandoning one of the coolest operations around. Will have to improve, to compete here. Tale of Promise (1) ships in from Charles Town and that’s not a good betting angle, but gets a new trainer and a weak field – and that is a good angle. May contend. I bet the 4 to win/place and wheel over/under the rest listed.

2nd: 1-3-6-7-5…Maiden Special for the babies, and I land on Classy Music (1) – a second time starter for the McPeek barn. His numbers with first timers is not overwhelming, but nearly doubles on the second out. This one ran a game race against a repeat winner and if she can get a clean break from the rail, could be in good shape. But the break here is everything. Go-to rider Channing Hill has to move quickly. Our Girl Abby (3) ships back from NY and gets the blinkers on for a barn that has been colder than normal. If she runs the same race back, she could be tough to handle. With the addition of the blinkers, she should be quicker from the gate today. She’s a Julie (6) cost $160,000 as a yearling and Asmussen is having a good meet. OK with firsters, too. American Alphabet (7) was a distant second in first out, but picks up a huge rider change and may contend today for a trainer that can get 2YOs ready. Don’t dismiss. I throw in Rose Candy (5) too. I bet Classy Music to win/place and then box the 1-3-6 and the 1-3-7 in the exactas.

3rd: 2-3-6-7-(8)…Starter allowance race on the grass – if it doesn’t come off. I go to Sugar Cube (2) either way. Nice, versatile sort for trainer Rick Hiles, who is having a good year with a limited number of starters. This one comes off an impressive victory and could run the same race back. Pour Girl (3) gets back on the grass (maybe) and that’s definitely her preference. Ran a huge one two back and she will need that kind of effort again. Maryblueeyes (6) may be the lone speed and if she gets away easily, she may be able to steal this one for trainer Steve Margolis. Will take a special effort to beat the first choice, though. I keep hoping – and betting – that Smelly Cat can return to form of earlier this year. May today. If it comes off the grass, I have to use the MTO entry of Dale Romans – Kentucky Dancer (8). Still a choice behind Sugar Cube, though. I bet the 2 to win/place and wheel over/under the rest. If it comes off the grass, I will box the 2-8.

4th: 2-1-6-7-5…Nice MSW race draws a nice field, led by Ntstinlfortitude (2), who ran second in his career debut. Only beaten a head by Wicked Macho, but went off at 36-1 odds. Gets a positive jock change with addition of BJ Hernandez. Will be a low price today. I will definitely use a couple of longer shots to go with the 2 here, including Dapper Sam (1), who is 12-1 ML. Ran OK for a half in the debut at 7F and drops back to 6F today for a barn that likes to use a race to tighten. Romans’ “other horse” in here may be salty, too. Blake’s Lucky Star (6) cost $325,000 as a yearling and has a long, steady trail of works to boost. Have to take notice here – especially at 5-1 ML. Mono (7) ran a good one last out, too, for trainer Ron Moquett. Any improvement off that one makes him a contestant. I bet the 2-1-6 exacta box and the 2-6-7 exacta box here. I will play the 6 across the board – for some odds.

5th: 6-5-4-1-3-2…Wide open affair and is hard to land on one in here. Discreetly Firm (6) gets the shaky nod, coming off a game 2nd in his last. Gets a positive jockey change for a trainer who is better than his cool start here indicates. Alpha Bravo (5) drops all the way from $30K to $8K claiming for a sneaky good trainer that can land with a big splash. Throw out the last two and you find a MSW winner on the turf. Little B (4) has not been close for awhile, and I don’t like to try to break the string, normally, but this is not a stellar field. Has a shot here. I throw in Cap’s Tale (1) with the pickup of rider Corey Lanerie, too. I bet the 6-5-4 box and the 6-5-1 box. I bet the 6-5 box, a bit, and the 5 – at 6-1 ML – across the board.

6th: 8-10-1-12-7-3…Maiden Claiming event scheduled for the grass, and if it stays there, I go to the ML favorite in Cicerone (8). This one caught a bear in the last (Yoshida), who came right back to win in impressive fashion here. Gets a drop in class, the addition of blinkers and no Yoshinda. Deserving favorite. Mascarpone (10) gets a similar break, dropping out the MSW ranks and gets class relief. He faced Arklow in his last and that one came back on Derby Day to win a stake. If this one can improve a notch off that one, he is handy here, too. Silver G T O (1) gets the grass for the first time and is by Hard Spun, a son of Danzig. He can throw you a good grass horse. I bet the 8-10-1 box and then the 8-10-12 box. I also key the 8 over/under all in here. I definitely bet the 8 to win/place as my Bet of the Day if it stays on the grass.

7th: 4-7-5-9-10-8-1…Cutacorner (4) drops out of the G2 Oaklawn Handicap all the way down to a $30K claiming event. He doesn’t face any Midnight Storms (favorite for Saturday’s G1 Gold Cup at Santa Anita) in here. If he runs like he can, he should be salty in here. Battle Tap (7) picks up Lanerie for trainer Paul Holthus and this duo knows how to win races. The drop in class today will help, too. Halloween Horror couldn’t handle Durango Dan (owned by the same guy as this one/but trained by Stephen Lyster). So, he gets the drop today. Should help. I bet the 4 to win/place here and then wheel over/under the rest listed.

8th: 10-8-6-1-2-3-11…Juno Moon (10) is my top play here, coming off a tiring third on a yielding course. May get the same type of grass today, but should improve off the last. Race against Salty, three back, has to be a throw away and the move to the grass has been good here. Notice that she got blinkers, too, and that has helped the speed component. Can’t dismiss American Cowgirl (8), who is coming off a quick freshener for trainer Buff Bradley. This filly loves this grass course (1 win and 1 second in two starts) and at 4-1 ML she may be more enticing that the top choice. Res Ipsa (6) is a deep closer, and going for a hot trainer. Son in law of Ian Wilkes picks up the mount and the duo, obviously, know each other. I have to use another deep closer in the Calumet Farm homebred Prudence. If she gets a clean trip along the rail, she can be tough. But she is probably a play under more than over. I bet the 10-8 exacta box and then play the 10-8 (both) over and under the rest of the numbers listed above. If the grass is yielding, I go to the 8 for the win/place bet.

9th: 8-2-10-7-3-4…Providence (8) is my solid choice in today’s finale. Drops back to 6 furlongs today and that should definitely help hold his speed for this beaten favorite. The blinkers stay on and that has seemed to help focus this one, who cost a pretty penny (or two). My Eminence (2) is coming off a layoff for a trainer who hasn’t won one all year. Consistent sort here, who has shown ability in the past. Can’t dismiss. Private Party (10) gets a barn change after the claim in last. Picks up a new jock, too. Didn’t fire at all in that one, but hooked a pretty good field in California in his career debut. Expect more today. Silver Treasure (7) gets the blinkers and a drop in class. Caught a good field in his first out, but should have expected more in the last. Tam Tam Attack (4) was nominated for the Triple Crown and now is entered for $50,000 claiming for his first out. Don’t know much about this barn, but is off to a good start here and has a horse that cost $270,000 as a yearling. The War Front may want the grass, though. I bet the 8 to win / place and key over and under all the other numbers listed.

Good luck &

All the Best/Gene

This feels great. It never gets old. We were hoping that he can rate and not get too far behind the speed and Flavien just rode him perfectly. He responded well in the stretch and we knew he tries really hard and he lived up to what we thought he would do. So, we’re really happy. We’re hoping that he can stretch out. We’ll find that out but I have a feeling we’ll try two turns and will see how it goes.”

JEFF LIFSON, West Point Thoroughbreds, Kanthaka, Winner San Vincente at Santa Anita
  • 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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