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: 1-7-8-9…Rossi’s Strong (1) gets the nod here after running in MSW at Mountaineer on a yielding turf track in first try this year. Probably needed that one as a tightener, and the place horse in that field has already returned to win. Trainer John Hancock is one of the best guys in the biz, and gets this one back. He has worked three times at Ellis in prep. Won’t take much to whip this field. Kiss My Note (7) drops from MC30K to MC7.5 and returns to the same grass course that he ran third on last August. A return to that form is good enough to put in the circle. Buzzkillington (8) showed a lot of speed before faltering at Belterra. I bet the 1 to win/place and then box in the exactas with the 1-7-8 and the 1-7-9.
2nd: 5-2-6-3…Avoir La Vedette (5) nearly broke into the circle in her last out and will be favored to break her in this race. John Hancock has another one in here, and may take the double with Glistening Star – who will race without blinkers for the first time. This one has three works for Hancock, who will make his debut with this filly by Proud Citizen. Shot Glass (6) is a first time starter and in this field may be considered the favorite. I bet the 5 to win/place and then box in the exactas with the 5-2-6.
3rd: 7-6-8-1A-5…Afleet Jay (7) has been ITM in four of is last six and gets some class relief today. Will be stalking the lead and have the first run at the leaders in a 7F heat, where this gelding has one second in one try. Sharm (6) goes for the team of Steve Asmussen and Corey Lanerie – which probably will mean low odds and favoritism. Made a huge run from off the pace to just miss in his last try. Has been very competitive for this barn after being claimed for $7,500 three back. Private Time (8) drops all the way from $40Cl to $16Cl. Just may be enough to put this one in the mix. I bet the 7 to win/place and then key over/under all the rest of the numbers.
4th: 2-3-6-4-5…Disones Pretty (2) returns to the grass, where he ran a good second last August. Has hit the turf 11 times, with only one win. But he has 5 seconds and 1 third. Gets the blinkers today and this barn does great with that equipment change (.30 win percentage for a barn with .07 overall win percentage). Too Cool (3) drops in class and has 4 wins over the grass in his career. Millennium Star (6) had a very nice second on this turf last August, too. No Tanks (4) is another with a shot. I bet the 2 to win/place/show and then key over/under the rest.
5th: 1-7-6-3-5…Kutuzov (1) is a speedster, who gets a good pace jockey in Jesus Castanon. Could be a good combo in this 1-mile heat. A repeat of his last race will be good enough for a second straight victory. Rage Riot (7) is a class drop for a solid barn. Deep closer needs a little racing room. California Coast (6) is another closer with a shot. I bet the 1 to win/place and then key over/under the rest of the numbers.
6th: 9-1-3-4-6-5… Prudence (9) will be sprinting this short for the first time, after 16 career starts. The last 12 of her races have been 61/2F or longer. But get this – she won the 61/2F one – at Kentucky Downs. And, trainer Rusty Arnold may be shortening her up for another run there in September, too. She was beaten by Beauly in her last and Wessex the time before. Those two were favorites in a big race at Churchill to end the meet. Burma Road, a real good one, beat Prudence by only 51/4 lengths. Dixie Twister (1) returns to the sprint after a disaster at two turns. This “closing sprinter” will cherish the 51/2F distance, and will be closing with a rush for a top rider. MacCorleot (3) needed her last out, and this daughter of Uncle Mo should be ready after a couple of nice works at Keeneland (note the bullet in her last). Ran over Ellis Park’s dirt surface last year, but will move up on the turf. Prudence is my Bet of the Day. I bet her to win/place and then key over/under all the numbers listed and then a smaller 9 over/under the “all button.” I key in the Pick 3s and Doubles, as well.
7th: 7-5-3-9…Political Justice (7) drops to the bottom after three sub-par performances for a solid barn. The drop may be enough to put this one in the circle. Tale of Honor (5) was claimed out of the last, when he ran fourth nearly the entire trip as the favorite. He was ITM in the previous three tries, though, and has the potential in this spot. Billy Two Hats (3) will be stalking the lead and the serious class drop may help this one go wire-to-wire. I bet the 7 & the 3 to win/place/show and then key the 7-3 over/under the other numbers.
8th: 3-2-1-11-7-12…Red Hot Chile (3) was bet in his last effort, but lost all shot at the start, when bumped and then goosed to the lead. Lanerie returns to the saddle and he should benefit from the last. Tiz too Much (2) was another bumped at the start (in the same race), and compromised. Ran a steady one inside, which is tough for a first timer. Should move up. Unmoored (1) was previously trained by the late Lynn Whiting, who loved to race at Ellis Park. This one makes his 2017 debut and is, without a doubt, the sentimental choice. The sleeper in here, though, could be Shankly Heights (11) – a well-bred son of War Front, who sold for $400,000 as a yearling three years ago. Looks to finally be training well for this long-awaited debut. I bet the 3 to win/place and then key over/under all the numbers. I bet the 1, a tad, for memories of coversations with a good man. And, I bet, a tad, on the 11 for the breeding interests. I box the 3-2-1 and the 3-2-11 in the exactas.
Good luck &
All the Best/