Gene McLean has been handicapping horses for most of his life, and still considers the practice one of the most pleasurable things to do. It has been a great pleasure to provide handicapping information for this entire Churchill Downs meet. Look forward to racing returning here in September. Until then, watch for our picks at Ellis Park, starting tomorrow.
1st: 1-6…Parlor (1) made the lead in the stretch of the G3 Arlington Classic in his last, on a yielding turf course. If he catches a little firmer going tonight, they may not find him. Lost to a very nice one in Cowboy Culture in that Stakes. Royal by Nature, and Irish-bred, won his first two starts, but hasn’t found the circle since. This will be his third off the layoff and that’s a good angle for most horses. Going for a hot barn. I bet the 1 to win/place and box the 1-6.
2nd: 3-6-1-5…Egyptian (6) has hit the board in five of his last six outings, including two wins. Ran a huge one in his last here on May 27, too, and if the rider had not dropped the whip, he sure could have won. If the rider can hold onto the whip and the horse – and keep both out of harm’s way – then this one looks tough in here. Flashy Jewel (6) is sure to make the lead, unless something unforeseen occurs. Only question is whether he can make the distance. Far Right (1) is as solid as they come and had to benefit from his only start this year. Works are just OK coming into this one, but will be closing. I bet the 3 to win/place and then key over/under the rest.
3rd: 8-3-1-7…Delusional KK (8) got up in the final jump to win his last by a whisker, but is in fine form right now. Gets the edge here, but this one may be jus as tough for her. Slam Chowder (3) is a NY-bred shipping down for a reason. The meet’s top rider, Corey Lanerie, gets off at least two others in here to pick up this mount for a regular client. Watch out. Run Away’s Sis (1) loses Lanerie, but picks up a solid jock in Albarado. I bet the 8 to win/place and then box the 8-3-1 and the 8-3-7.
4th: 8-7-1-5-4-2…I love Pauline Revere (8) in this one, for the barn of Ian Wilkes. Ran huge against very good company in the last two two, after drawing Salty in her career debut. Looks like she is primed for this one and I like the drop back in distance. My Best Bet of the day. Tiz My Lady (7) doesn’t normally finish races as strong as you would like, so beware. Dona Spey (1) ships in from Arlington after a near-miss for a solid outfit. I bet the 8 to win/place and then key over all the numbers above. I bet a smaller “all button” over the 8.
5th: 5-12-9-2-11…High Multiple (5) has a bit of a “Z Pattern” working over the last three races (speed-stalk-speed), and that is normally a good sign for old-time handicappers. If there was a different rider aboard, I may have gone all in here, but…Caniform (12) comes off a huge, closing effort to break his maiden for $20K last out, but faces winners for the first time and that’s a tough go. Lanerie jumps off, too. And, he goes to Blabimir (9). If this one can finish a race (he’s been eased in three of his five lifetime starts), then he could air them. Lanerie up is a good sign that the fix for this one is being a first-time gelding. I bet the 5 & 9 to win/place/show and then wheel both of them over/under the rest of the field (all button).
6th: 5-3-6…G3Bashford Manor Stakes…How do you go against Copper Bullet, who is only one of 7 2YOs this year to post a Beyer Speed Figure of 75 or higher? I don’t think it’s smart to try. But, if he stumbles just a bit, there are two othes in here that I think are capable of springing the upset. Mo Diddley (3) comes out of a good debut win and picks up Lanerie. Has been training super for a solid barn with babies. Watch out here. Ten City (6) won by 7 lengths in his first try – for a trainer notorious for not gearing up for the first out — and picks up Lasix today. This one could come flying with the extra distance if they go too fast up front. I box the 5-3-6 in the exactas, and then play all three numbers in the Pick 3s and doubles. No win play here.
7th: 10-11-2-4-1-3-9-12…Wide open MSW on the grass, but if it comes off the grass then I go – decidedly – to Tapsolute. If it stays on the lawn, then I go to the outside here with my top two selections – Sakonnet (10) and Iconic (11). The former tried a G3 Stakes on a yielding grass with blinkers for the first time in his last. This son of Scat Daddy (what sire could be hotter?) loses the glasses, hopefully tackles a firm going, and, if no traffic issues, may be too tough to handle in here. Iconic (11) was a beaten favorite last out. The extra furlong is sure to help this one tonight. I bet the 10 to win/place/show and then key the 10-11 over/under all the other numbers. I bet one 10-11 exacta box, too.
8th: 1-6-9-11-13-7-3…The $100,000 Debutante Stakes…Contrary to the counterpart race a couple back, this one is wide, wide open. But not without quality. I like Sunny Skies (1) to spring an upset in here. Another one trained by Kenny McPeek and she gets Lasix for the first time, too, after an astounding 9-length victory in her opener. Lanerie gets off, but McPeek picks up Albarado and they will look to go early from the rail in this 6F event. She’s a Julie (6) is another one for Steve Asmussen and this one figures to be your post-time favorite. Had a 51/2-length victory in debut here and the horse she beat that day came back to post an impressive win, too. The one to beat. Don’t dismiss Amberspatriot (9) for the big man, John Hancock. This one has run against colts in her first two outs and nearly won the Kentucky Juvenile here on Derby weekend. Will stalk and close with rider Paco Lopez shipping in to ride. I bet the 1 to win/place and then box the 1-6-9 in one exacta. I play the 1-6 over the rest of the numbers to cover in the exactas, too.
9th: 6-1-4-7…Toasted (6) is the pick here for the red-hot Wilkes barn. Stuck way, way wide in her last and had a horrible trip in the race before. A clean trip could land this one in the circle. Anthingyoucando (1) goes for Asmussen. In her last 10 starts, she has hit the board in 7, and she figures to be closing from far back, too. The stretch out to a 1-mile race will help both of these. Annathela (4), going for Rusty Arnold, may get a soft run up front and will be get the first run. May prove to be tough to catch. I bet the 6 to win/place and then box the 6-1 in exacta. And, then key 6-1 over the other two.
10th: 4-3-11-7-14-5…Limousine Liberal (4) is the best he’s ever been and it’s tough to even think about going against him in here, after back to back wins in two Graded Stakes here. He picks up a new challenger today, though, in The Player (3), who comes from the barn of Buff Bradley. This one was last seen in July 2016 when he was nipped by Cupid in the Indiana Derby. Cupid recently came back to dominate the Gold Cup at Santa Anita. This could shape up to be a good one, but I am going with my good friend Buff to spring the upset here. I bet the 3 to win/place and then key over/under all the numbers listed.
11th: 10-12-9-4-3…I go outside for the Meet’s finale. Off Road (10) figures to be really tough if he can duplicate his run in the last and drops all the way from $75K Maiden-Claiming to $30K Maiden-Claiming for the meet’s top trainer – Asmussen. He was a Triple Crown nominee and figures tough here. Cadillac Red (12) shortens up from 11/16-miles to a flat mile and that should help this one sustains his speed just a bit more. Cape Angel (9) is dropping from MSW to MC30K here. Neil Howard – one of the best people I know — may just get another win before the meet ends. I bet the 10 to win/place and then box in the exactas with the 10-12-9. I also bet a tad on the 9 across the boad.