1st: 4-2-1-5…Jordan’s Henny (4) gets the “dot” (must use) here, and why not? She has been facing some of the best 3YO fillies in the country and you can toss her run in the slop during the KY Oaks. Anything close to her best and she wins here. The only filly that intrigues me a little is All Laced Up (2), who had an impressive win in her first start and the fact that she brought $450,000 as a yearling. She has come back and worked well in her last, but it appears she may have missed a work or two in-between. Eye brow raised? I bet the 4 to win, over the 2-1-5 in the exacta, and key in the double and pick 3s.

2nd: 6-1-2-5…Internet Success (6) moves up in class off a near win at $10,000 and a claim by JR Caldwell – who used to train this one before. I like it when a train goes back and gets one and although he moves up, I think he can pull it off. Fuhrious Warrior (1) had all kinds of trouble in the last and was compromised at the turn. Cleaner trip and could be tough with a jock change. Smoking Revenge (2) tried a grass spring in the last and didn’t embarrass himself, but back in more familiar territory on the dirt, for a cold trainer. I bet the 6 to win/place and then box the 6-1-2 and the 6-1-5.

3rd: 6-5-1-4…A turf race going a mile with no clear standout and that is strange, but I think the edge has to go to More Than Kisses (6). She gets back to her most favored surface. Tepid choice. Simply Great (5) isn’t, but may be good enough to move up from a maiden claimer to challenge. Has be simply better with the addition of glasses. Oh Dear Lord (1) is a Louisiana-bred and has never won on the grass or at this distance. Tells you a little something. I get the 6 to win/place and then box the 6-5-1 and the 6-5-4. I tread lightly here.

4th: 1-4-3-7-6…Blaze’n Prospector (1) drops in class after a debacle of a trip in the last. Should fit here with a simple return to form and a little closer to the rail draw. Has shown speed in the past and may use some of that to get a stalking position in here. Mesoma (4) picks up the meet’s leading rider and that may be enough to put him back in the winner’s circle at his favorite racetrack. Lanerie probably had his choice to ride either of the Hartman horses in this race and switches over to this one. Take notice. Johnny Obvious (3) caught two bears in a turf sprint last out and finds the going much easier today. I use for sure. I bet the 1 to win/place and then wheel over/under the rest of the numbers. I also bet the 3 across the board, a tad.

5th: 4-3-6-7-5…Tough race to separate, but I land on Vandelay (4). Would have preferred a little hotter jock (Gilligan is 1-for-60 this meet!), so that gives me pause. But this one has caught some good ones in previous races and if he can find a nice stalking spot, may be able to score today. Heartwood (2) will probably be the post time favorite, but he was dusted by Blueridge Traveler and my top choice ran much better against the same foe. I mark that. Candy King (6) is a first timer and despite modest works for a barn that will breeze fast, he may be ready at first asking. I bet the 4 to win/place and box in exactas with 4-3-6 and 4-3-7.

6th: 3-7-2-4-6…Harlan Punch (3) gets a “dot” in this spot for trainer Tom Amoss, who is having his usual strong meet. Drops in class off a tough one and should be ready to rock in this spot. Howell Mountain (7) caught a tough one in his last and gets need class relief, as well. Producer (2) is very spotty, but his best makes him dangerous. I bet the 3 to win/place and then key wheel over/under the rest of the numbers.

7th: 2-5-8…I’m not inspired by much in here, but I will go with Too Much to Bear (2) who drops from $40,000 to $16,000. This Texas-bred does get the services of Corey Lanerie, and that may be enough. I bet the 2 to win/place (a little) and then just box the top three.

8th: 6-5-7-8-2…Silver Dust (6) has to get the nod in this nice Allowance-Optional Claimer event. Just look who he has been banging heads with over the last three outs. This one did beat Senior Investment (third in the Preakness in his last out) to break his maiden, too. But race is not without some contenders. McCormick (5) finally broke his maiden in his last out after fighting against two colts who have recently won stakes races. Love this son of Hard Spun. Donwell (7) ran a big one in defeat last out, after some serious bumping in the stretch. Last three races have all been nice. Hembree (4) picks up blinkers today and that should help, and don’t ignore completely Underpressure (2). I bet the 6 to win/place and then box in the exactas with 6-5-7 and 6-5-4. I key the 6 over/under all the numbers in the exactas, too.

9th: 6-9-1-7-2-12-10…Great race to finish the weekend on. Very competitive field may end up a surprise, but I go with Western Reserve (6), the 2-1 ML on top. Ultra consistent sort backs up to a mile where he has one win, two seconds and two thirds in 5 starts. Like to see more wins than seconds and thirds. Take notice. The horse to watch is Speight Swiftly (9), who cost $500,000 to buy and has made his wait to the racetrack worth it. He didn’t make the gate until this year, as a 4YO, and has won his first two – including his last here by 5 lengths. Forge (1) is on his third race off a layoff cycle and has plenty of back class to make a serious run in this one. Galton (7) makes a big move up in class, but has three wins in five tries on this grass course. Love that. And, don’t completely leave out Flashy Chelsey (2). May make a nice play here at 10-1 ML. Take note of my betting pattern here. I bet the 9 to win/place and I key the 9 over/under all the numbers listed. I also box the 6-9-1 and the 6-9-7 in the exactas, too.

Good luck &
All the Best/

He broke really well out of the gate and put me in a good spot in the race. He broke and shot out of the gate and put me where I wanted to be. I didn’t want to be too far back and I think it was a perfect ride for him. I was concerned a little bit in the last part of the race, especially around the last sixteenth. I think that my horse tried to hold back to force inside and we had some contact. They say he tried to intimidate my horse and that is why I couldn’t get past him. I wish it would’ve just been the two horses running straight in the race. We were the best two horses in the race. I just want to see who the better horse is.”

Javier Castellano, Bolt D'Oro Jockey and winner San Felipe Stakes 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 ...

    Full Bio >

More From Gene McLean