It is Labor Day, a holiday that we set aside to honor those that WORK. There is a new definition for that word today, and, most of the time, it does not resemble the old-fashioned ethic. But I would be remiss if I didn’t take a moment out to mention what it meant to my mom and dad.  It meant 5 a.m. mornings, where mom would rise to make a hearty breakfast before my dad went off to farm, and later to work at a factory. It meant mom cleaning the dishes, make the kid’s lunch boxes, and then getting off to the Midway Post Office, where she worked each day, separating and filing mail.  It meant dad working each day, every day.  In nearly 40 years at Proctor & Gamble, I think he missed a grand total of 3 days due to sickness, injury or ill weather. It meant keeping the yard mowed and tidy. It meant building your own lake house. It meant sweat, and sometimes blood and tears. Most of all, it meant sweat. And, at the end of each day, around 5:30 p.m. — but no later than 6 p.m. — it meant sitting at the same table for dinner. Another meal prepared by my mother alone. With loving hands and a kind heart. And, the next day, we got up and did it all over again.  I started working by the age of 10.  I haven’t stopped.  For the most part, it has been a labor of love. But I was taught, from early on, there was no other way.  I love my mom and dad for so many reasons. But this lesson was one that I have spent a lifetime honoring. It is that tradition that we honor today.  Work Day.

So, I got up and worked on handicapping today’s cards.  Sweet. A bit of blood. We will see if there tears after the races. Here is a closer look at Ellis Park’s closing day:

1st: 8-3-5-1…Union Salute (8) goes for the barn of Al Stall and gets a huge class drop from the MSW ranks all the way to the MC10K today.  Hasn’t shown much of anything at the end of his first three races, but still demonstrate a little pace lick in the distance turf race last out.  Should appreciate the level today. Correctamundo (3) gets the services of leading rider Corey Lanerie and that my be enough to put this one in the circle for trainer Paul Holthus. Watch out here. Chilling Secret (5) goes for one of the hottest barns this met and picks up a hug rider switch.  Should contend in this spot today.  I bet the 5 (take note) to win/place/show and then box the top 3 numbers in the exacta. 8-5-7-2…Winner and Exacta winner.

2nd: 3-2-5-7-6…Jury Wise (3) gets another class drop for a top rider and a top trainer. Should be tough at this level.  Cash Dance (2) loses Lanerie to the preferred choice, but did win last out and moves up a condition. Alice Roadtrain (5) has had only one start this year and tired badly for that, but should be a tad fitter for this round. I bet the 3 to win/place and then box the 3-2 solidly, with a 3-2 key over (only) the rest of the numbers. 8-4-7-2…I bomb out here.  Sorry.

3rd: 3-7-2-1-6…Hard Fought (3) goes for the cold barn of Donnie Von Hemel, who has had a tough year winning races. This one nearly pulled off the win in the last two, though, and has 3 second place finishes in the last four outs. Circle Day today. Wild Will (7) has been off since March, but was claimed in that outing by Greg Foley, who has worked this one back for this spot. Has faced some tough ones in the past. Thunder Down Under (2) has 6 ITM finishes in 12 lifetime starts, but doesn’t like to carry his speed all the way. Will likely run behind the winner again today. I bet the 3 to win/place/show and then box the 3-7 solidly, with a 3-7 key over (only) the rest of the numbers listed. 3-4-2-1…Winner, but miss the exacta.

4th: 1-5-2-6-3…Proud Dixie (4) gets a huge class drop for this one, and should be a tough beat with Calvin Borel back for the ride. Don’t know if he will stalk or close today, but either style should be enough if she is ready. I’m With Miller (5) goes for the combo of Brad Cox and Lanerie, and they have been deadly together.  This one elevates out of a MC30K win to tackle winners for the first time, but is training well here, too. Grantastica (2) picks up a huge rider switch, but has only 5 ITM finishes out of 18 career starts. Better of late, but will take even more today.  I bet the 1 to win/place/show and then both 1-5 solidly, with a key of the 1-5 over (only) the rest of the numbers.2-3-6-7…The 5 was scratched, so I move the 2 up and hit the exacta.

5th: 1-7-6-8-4….Titfortat (5) won her last out here, nearly going wire to wire. Looks to have the prevailing speed again today and will get a huge rider switch. Look out. Explained Moonshine (7) is another with a positive saddle adjustment, and comes off a nice win, too. Miss Discreet (6) won her last and should be stalking the leaders for a pounce move. I bet the 1 to win/place and then box the top three numbers in the exacta. I take one 1-7-7 key over the 8-4, too. Pace went in :21 & change, cooking the 1…6 does win and we hit the exacta nicely.

6th: 2-1-4-7…Bro Stroll (2) This deep closer may get a better chance today with the switch to Borel, who rides the rail. Confederate Rags (1) has been the beaten favorite in the last two, and should be close enough to have a shot. Memorial Blue (4) is the 2-1 ML favorite, but looks a little soft for that number. Not the toughest field, though. I bet the 2 to win/place (lightly) and then box the top three numbers in the exacta. Comes in 4-8-9-7…Miss both bets.

7th: 7-1-12-5-4-3-10…Jing (7) nearly won her career debut up at Indy, and now gets Lanerie aboard. Should be tough in this spot today. Two Sips (1) goes for the Asmussen barn and ran into a buzz saw in her first out.  Should benefit from that trip and be tougher today. Needs a better break from the rail, though. Watch out for the outside post, Miss Accuse (12).  This one has the style and experience to be a presence today. I bet the 7 to win/place and then box the 7-1-12 in one exacta and then key those three over (only) the rest of the numbers in a small one. 5-7-9…7 game as heck, but couldn’t get by the 5, a first time starter for Wayne Catalano.  With the scratch of the 12, we do hit the exacta. And, have the place bet, too.

8th: 1-2-10-3-7-11-8-6-9…Foul Play (1) gets her second start of the year today and should be ready to fire a good one for the barn of Rusty Arnold. Gets a top jock for this spot, but needs to get a clean start from the rail. Ervsayslethego (2) nearly pulled off the win from a front-running position in the last here on July 30. May get the job done today. Kitty Union (10) comes off a very impressive score in a MSW win at Indy on Aug. 1.  Watch this combo again. I bet the 1 to win/place/show and then box the 1-2-10 in one exacta and then key those three over the rest in a small one. Foul Play was making a huge run on the rail and had to be absolutely snatched up in traffic. Bet back this one.  Comes 9-6-11-2. No winners here.

9th: 1-12-7-4-5-11-3-9-8…The last race of this year’s meet is a good MSW event, and I go with Creative Capital (1), who has the benefit of three career races and two at this distance and surface. Should find a good stalking position and have a shot when the real running begins. Stablemate Rockingham Mel (12) goes for a barn that normally does not crank up for the first out, but this one has been training lights out and gets a top rider. One Drop (7) is another first timer for Asmussen. Bred to love this surface and distance. I go with the 1 to win/place show and then box the 1-12-7 in one exacta and then key the 1-12 over/under the rest of the numbers listed. Comes 4-5-1…not a good ride from Jack Gilligan on #1…should watch more video of the rider of the winner…


6th: Engage is, IMO, a lock here.  Win bet only the #9. Winner.

7th: 1-9-2…The Bernard Baruch Stakes…I love Heart to Heart (1) in this spot, with Projected (9) and Takeover Target (2) following closely behind…I bet the 1 to win/place and then box the exacta. Winner, easily done; (editor’s note: don’t listen to TVG commentators…please…do yourself a favor and hit the “mute” button on those cats)…do miss the exacta…

8th: 6-2-8…I like Style Drift, another one for Chad Brown, as he closes in on Todd Pletcher for the trainer’s title.  I bet the 6 to win/place and then box the 6-2-8 in one exacta and then key the 6 over/under the 2-3-8-9-11-12. The 6 & 2 both break thru the starting gate before the beginning of the race — which is a horrible circumstance for bettors. I went in and cancelled all my bets prior to the actual start.  8 made a nice run to be second and 6 was HUGE to be third.  That is a bet-back next time out.  Put Style Drift in your Stable Mail.

9th: 3-1-7-5…Firenze Fire (3) and Mojovation (1) should be the top two choices off the numbers, but I look for an upset special in this one, with both Givemeamint (7) — at 50-1 ML — and National Flag — 8-1 ML — both having a shot in here.  I’m going to bet the 7-5 across the board and then bet the 7-5 over/under the all button in this one.  Trying to hit some big numbers. Crazy finish when the 6 bolts deep in the stretch.  Seemed as if the 8 was compromised, but stewards make no call. Givemeaminit runs a good one to be third. No winners here.

10th: 15-2-14-3-4…Grandpa’s Ariana (15) gets into this event for trainer George Weaver.  My pick to finish the meet.  I bet across the board and then key over/under the “all button” and then box the 15-2-14 in another one. 14 runs away with the win, with the 3 second and the 15 third.  Two scratches at the starting gate, and a world of mess just trying to get the last race off. 

Good Luck &

All the Best/Gene