Gene McLean has been handicapping races for much of his life, and still finds the practice one of the most enjoyable pastimes in life.  The Ellis Park meet offers owners, trainers, jockeys and horse players many options and today’s card is no different.  Challenging. Fun.  And, possibly, profitable.  Take a look at today’s picks and give it a try.

1st: 2-5-6-4…Proud to Live Free (2). Period. How do you NOT bet this horse on the 4th of July? Seriously. In addition, I think the gelded son of Caleb’s Posse is the best in the field, too. Gets the drop to the bottom for a top trainer/owner combo in these ranks (Chris Richard-Maggi Moss). Will be low odds, but you have to bet here. Perfect Cuppajoe (5) gets blinkers for the first time and that’s a good angle for this barn. Hansen Gone West (6) was claimed in his last out and gets a drop off of that today. I bet the 2 to win/place and then key over/under the numbers in the exactas. I also key the 2 in the Double, and Pick 3.


2nd: 3-4-5…Remember the Alimo (3) is named after another historic event in our country’s history and I will stick with the theme in here, too. This one ran a good one in her last for a top winning trainer and gets a huge jock improve in this one, with the switch to Corey Lanerie. Crowned Princess (4) gets the blinkers for the first time by a patient trainer, and may now be ready to move forward. Fairybrook (5) has had her moments and her problems. Brought just $10,000 as a yearling and she’s by a stallion that stands for $50,000 live foal. So, that may be a hint. I bet the 3 to win/place and then key over/under the “all button” here. I also key in the first Double and the second Double and key in the previous Pick 3, as well.


3rd: 1/1A-8-2-7-4-3…I like both parts of the entry – Iron Mane (1) and Indy Hill (1A) – in here. Iron Mane surely needed his last effort and is a speedball by The Factor. Indy Hill is likely to push toward the front, as well, for jockey Jon Court, who is off to a good meet here. This one, by English Channel, just broke his maiden in his 10th try, but may come right back with another solid effort. Crawford (8) is trained by Steve Asmussen and is likely to take a lot of betting money in this spot. Goes on the grass for the first time and shortens up, too. Comes into this one off a break and a Stakes event. If he likes the surface switch, then look out. Magician’s Bullet (2) has won only 1 of 12 on the grass, but has hit the board in half. May rally with Lanerie in the saddle to grab part of the money. I bet the 1 across the board, hoping both parts of the entry land in the top 3. I key the 1 over/under all the numbers in the exactas. I use the 1-8-2-7-4-3 in the previous Double and the previous Pick 3s.


4th: 8-7-9-1…Soft spot here, but still tough to find one that will figure on top. I finally decide on Cash Dance (8) with the pickup of rider Corey Lanerie – one of my favorite riders in the country, and one of the most under-rated, as well. Gets the drop to the bottom off a layoff from December. Trainer doesn’t start many, but wins his share with those that make the gate. I take the 4-1 ML odds and run. Point of No Return (7) nearly held on at Indiana Grand in her last. That run back may be good enough today. Our Adieu (9) goes for another trainer with limited starts, but can find the circle. Has run his best races at Ellis Park in the past. I bet the 8 to win/place/show and then box the 8-7-9 and the 8-7-1 in the exactas. In the last leg of the 2nd race Pick 3, I use the 8-7-9-1.


5th: 8-7-1-5-2-11…Fort Wise Treaty (8) goes for another historic reference victory today. I jump on board of this 2YO son of Fort Larned’s and from his first crop. He cost $170,000 at the OBS April Sale this spring and looks to be training well for a conditioner that wins races. Eclipsed Moon (7) cost a whopping $400,000 as a yearling, and trainer Kenny McPeek normally takes his time with all first timers. But this one is training lights out and McPeek is as hot as a 4th of July firecracker. Watch out. Cash Kitten (1) gets the outside post in a 1-mile turf event for 2YOs. Not ideal. But he’s by Kitten’s Joy, trained by Steve Asmussen and ridden by Lanerie. Lots to like. Have to use. Joe Gallagher (5) is a Paddy O’Prado son and this trainer, William Cowans, wins with .26 percent of first timers. Beware. I bet the 8 to win/place show and then key over/under the numbers listed.


6th: 9-4-3-5-6-8…Porridge (9) has raced on synthetic surfaces in five of her first seven starts. Gets to finally try real dirt (something that horses grew up on naturally) for the first time since last July. If this daughter of The Factor makes the adjustment, then watch out. She does pack some early speed and should like the drop in class today. Racey Reecey (4) ships south from Belterra Park in Cincinnati for this one, but picks up Lanerie (somehow?). Beats me, but I fall for the trap and use. Bill’s Wealthgirl (3) does have some back class and maybe her last try woke her up a bit. Moves up in class. Charis (5) got a huge number in her last effort, which was a win by a whopping 143/4 lengths. Moves way up in class today and will found out a lot about this daughter of Sky Mesa (whose off-spring do like the synthetic; but this one has never raced over the wax). I bet the 9 to win/place/show and then key over/under all the other numbers here.


7th: 6-2-8-1-7-3-9…Stetson Gold (7) comes off a long layoff for her 2017 debut, but she has been working lights out at Keeneland for a trainer that knows how to get them ready off the bench. If she runs today like she has been training, then watch out. She hooked a very nice field at EP last year, and this daughter of Uncle Mo should show more speed in this one. Trivial (2) is a first time starter for Brad Cox. Has been training well at Keeneland, too. Mellwood Summer (8) may get overlooked in the betting today, and, if so, I am taking advantage. This one improved immensely off a long layoff in her 2017 debut and any improvement off that one could move her into the circle. Sits at 5-1 ML and I think could slide up. She is my “dot” play (must use) in this one. Thirteen Songs (1) goes for Dallas Stewart. She shortens up a bit today and this speedster should like the turnback. Will be gassing it from the rail. I bet the 6 to win/place/show and then key the 6-8 over/under the other numbers in the exactas.


8th: 1-6-10-3-8-9-4…Adventist (1) gets the nod in the feature today for trainer Mike Maker and Lanerie. This true closer has run three solid races for Maker since he picked up the horse this spring and he switched him over to the grass. Great move for a horse that has a ton of back class – including a second to Mo Tom in last year’s Ohio Derby and a third to Outwork in last year’s Wood Memorial. It seems that he may be on the verge of finding it again. Zambian (6) ran a huge one off the bench in his 2017 debut at Churchill Downs on June 1, beating 8 others. A repeat performance makes this stalker tough today. Go Nay Go (10) broke his maiden on the grass here a year ago, and Element (3) drops in class for top trainer Rusty Arnold after 3 dull performances this year. This one hasn’t won since 2015, but turned in a good work at CD on June 28. May be waking up? Archanova (8) goes for Ian Wilkes, who is having a really good year. I bet the 1 to win/place/show and then key over/under all the other numbers listed.


9th: 6-2-8-10-7…A tough one to find a contender in to finish the card and the opening salvo for Ellis Park 2017. I finally land on what should be the prohibitive favorite, My Sugar (6), who is trained by Cox and ridden by Lanerie. If she finds the grass to her liking and the form that enabled her to break her maiden two races back, then she should relish this crowd. Three Natty Patty (3) switches surfaces for the first time, and she cost a lot of money as a yearling. Will it help? Sayalilprayerforme (8) is aptly named and gets class relief for this spot. Has 4 starts over the grass and broke her maiden on it at Arlington Park last year. Figures. I bet the 6 to win/place and then key over/under the numbers.


Good luck…

Happy 4th of July…

Thanks to all that have served to help make this country the best in the world and keep it safe for all of us…


All the Best/