Gene McLean has been handicapping horses for nearly 40 years. He has placed in handicapping contests, and enjoys reviewing, analyzing and selecting horses of all calibers and classes. It is one of the most enjoyable pastimes that a horse lover and racing enthusiast can do. Here are his selections for today’s card at Ellis Park:
1st: 4-1-2-3…Political Justice (4) comes off a nice win over the Ellis Park dirt track on July 3, when he got the drop to the bottom of the ranks. It was his first win of the year and he moves up in class today. But a repeat performance of that one will be difficult to top. Nobler (1) goes back to the barn where he has performed the best, and he won at this level at Oaklawn Park in March. Didn’t do well at Prairie Meadows, but could appreciate the return to his previous conditioner. Sky Blue Mongolia (2) will get bet a lot with the meet’s leading rider, Corey Lanerie, jumping into the saddle. I bet the 4 to win/place and then box the 4-1-2 in one exacta and 4-1-3 in another.
2nd: 2-1-6-8…Forty Christina (4) drops to the bottom and shortens up, a bit, for this heat. If you can throw out the sloppy race in the last and figure she may return to her form two back, then she should be salty in this spot. Boomtiderock (1) drops again and this one may be enough to make her a contender. Shot Glass (6) was bet down in her first out here and didn’t really show much. Picks up a new trainer, who is doing OK here. I bet the 2 to win/place and then box the 2-1-6 and the 2-1-8 in the exactas.
3rd: 2-1-4-7-9…Benny Special (2) moves up in class after breaking his maiden here in the last at the bottom and faces winners for the first time. Not a good move for most horses, but if he repeats his last, he could take this one, too. The Last Prophet (1) gets Lanerie to stick with the reins for a hot barn. Start a War (4) drops to the bottom and to a level where he fits better. This could put him right in the mix here. I bet the 2 to win/place and then box the 2-1-4 in one exacta and then key the 2-1 over/under the other numbers listed.
4th: 7-6-5-1-2-3…Jet Away Sue (7) has had to overcome trouble in the past two, and those difficulties could have cost her a win in each. If Miguel Mena can steer her clear of traffic today (and that may be asking a lot of this rider, who has all of 1 win in 31 rides this meet), then she could find the circle today. Angel’s Ashes (6), on the other hand, gets an expert rider in Lanerie and she will try to carry her speed to the wire today. On Probation (5) finished in front of the preferred choice in their last matchup, but had a cleaner trip and hung in that one when a win was within reach. White Gold (1) is not without a shot at a nice price. I bet the 7 to win/place and then key over/under all the numbers.
5th: 9-6-4-2-1…Sky Promise (9) had a nice closing move on the grass in his first try there last time out and ran second to a good one in Copper Bullet two back. Should graduate today. King Valero (6) ran a good one against a couple of nice 2YOs in his last. If he moves up off that first try on turf, then he could be tough today. Just Like Richie (4) gets the glasses today after a rough trip in the last. Blinkers is a good equipment change for this trainer. I bet the 9 to win/place and then key over/under all the other numbers.
6th: 9-4-8-1-2-5…Leading Cause (9) made a good run at Portal in his last and this one has been close now in three in a row. The back up to a mile today could be enough to push this one over the top for a solid training operation. My Eminence (4) ran a huge one against The Pressbox’s first “Power Player” in Pocket Square in his last effort. A similar effort today could be enough in a good race matchup. Arch Cat (8) ran third to Pocket Square two back. I bet the 9 to win/place and then box the 9-4-8 in one exacta. I try a small 9-4-8 exacta wheel over the 1-2-5, too.
7th: 8-6-7-3-10…Rushin Tothecircle (8) set all the pace before giving up late against two good ones in her last. If she can manage her speed a bit better today in her second trip around two turns, then she may be able to carry them all the way today. Cash Kitten (6) gets Lanerie back up and should benefit from her first out for a good barn. Bullet Bandit (7) actually finished ahead of Cash Kitten in the last, and his odds will be much higher. I bet the 8 to win/place and then over/under all the rest.
8th: 1-5-3-7-10-8…Wilbo (1) gets the edge over The Truth or Else (5) today by a smidgen in the Don Bernhardt Stakes. Wilbo loves this distance of 61/2 F with two wins in three starts, and will get the jump on the latter. That positioning and the fact that Lanerie is up may be the difference in what promises to be a very competitive event. The Truth or Else (5), like Wilbo, has been chasing Limousine Liberal, who won three straight stakes events at Churchill Downs this spring and has to be considered in the Top 5 older sprinters in the country now. The Truth is a deep closer, though, and much more dependent on pace scenario and a free run. Both of those could compromise his chances. Black Bear (3) ran second to Gorgeous Bird in this event last year and has been a bit snake bitten with troubled events. A clean course could help this one hit the board for rider Calvin Borel, who is having a good meet. I bet the 1 to win/place and then key over/under the rest of the numbers.
9th: 6-10-3-2-12…Today’s finale is a wide open affair, but I settle on Malibu West (6) who takes another drop off a competitive effort here in his last on July 2. Rider switch is of no benefit, though. Red Again (10) gets another class drop, too, and he had a huge work on July 16. May be sitting on go today. Wathnan (3) cost a whopping $650,000 as Fasig-Tipton in 2014. Drops to his all-time low claiming price and that may boost his chances for a sneaky good trainer. If Cedarville draws in from the AE, you have to reshuffle the cards. This one would be in the top three choices. I bet the 6 to win/place and then key over/under the rest.
Good Luck, Stay Cool &
All the Best/Gene