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: 4-7-11-12-3-5…Slowhand (4) is a deep closer that is both owned and trained by Wesley Ward, who is coming off a “so-so” meet at Churchill Downs. May try to get going a little faster at Ellis. This one drops in class and gets a good rider switch in a competitive field. Malibu West (7) is well-bred and drops all the way down from MC30K to MC10K. Made a nice run in first try on turf before faltering. Prado’s Smokin (11) gets back on his preferred surface and should try the lead again. I bet the 4 to win/place and then key the 4 over/under the rest of the numbers.


2nd: 7-2-1-4-5-3…Sir Douglas (7) gets the nod here in a good matchup. Ran a solid race against a good one in Taco on the grass back in February. Was wide in the last after a tough start. Cleaner trip today may help him get to the circle. Faction Cat (2) never runs a poor one, it seems, and ran away with a 73/4-length victory in breaking his maiden in the last. Young trainer having a good year. May have figured it out and has hit the board in 7 of 11. Bajan Cash is solid, as well, with two wins and 8 ITM finishes in 12 starts. I bet the 7 to win/place and then box in the exactas with 7-2 over/under the rest of the numbers.


3rd: 3-5-4-1…Frigidish (3) ran OK after breaking slowly in his first out, and then ran off in the post parade in his second try. Why he was not scratched is beyond reason. But he wasn’t. Throw that race out, and, with the drop in class from MC30K to MC16K, makes this one tough in here. Classic Brit (5) gets Lasix today for a sneaky-good trainer that can move one up for their second try. Chargers Miss (4) could make it a race with her best. I bet the 3 to win/place and then box the 3-5-4 in one exacta and the 3-5-1 in another.


4th: 3-7-6-2…Counterforce (3) will be very low odds and for good reason. He looks to be much the best in this spot. Comes in off a near-miss second and has 6 ITM finishes in 10 starts – with two wins already. Very well bred colt, who is already Stakes Placed. Best Bet of the Day. If he stays anywhere close to 2-1 ML, I jumped in. Cash Bonus (7) and All Shacked Up (6) have some credentials, but appear to be for the minor rewards. I bet the 3 to win/place, and then key over/under the “all button” here, and key over (only) the 7-6-2. I also key in the Pick 3s and Doubles.


5th: 3-6-7-1-10-4-8…Arch Cat (3) gets my pick here, switching to the grass for the first time. Not a great angle for this barn, but this one should like the surface switch based on breeding. This deep closer will need a clean trip, but has been facing tough ones – like Pocket Square (The Pressbox Power Play) and Ntestinlfortitude. One Last Strike (6) is a first timer for trainer Mike Maker and is a well-bred son of Smart Strike. Your Way (7) is another well-bred colt, who gets the riding services of Corey Lanerie. I bet the 3 to win/place and then key over/under all the numbers listed.


6th: 7-8-1-3…Seeking Bull (7) gets a huge class drop from C16K to C7,500K and gets the blinkers for this one. If she can find the same kind of run she displayed three back, then she swamps this crowd. My Mystery (8) is another class dropper, who has speed – which is always dangerous. Stella Nova (1) drops, as well, and will match speed with speed. Gets Lanerie and that makes her a risk. I bet the 7 to win/place and then box the 7-8-1 in the exacta.


7th: 3-4-7-10-5-11-1…Belles Orb (3) goes for the first time for a trainer that can get them ready to pop. This filly cost $120K earlier this year at OBS-March. Training very well. Mrs. Rocco (4) has been training well for a trainer that wins a lot of races. Gets Lanerie. American Alphabet (7) and No Partners (5) have both run against really good ones already, and they both warrant a shot. I bet the 3 to win/place and then key over/under all the rest of the numbers.


8th: 11-2-9-1-6-7…American Cowgirl (11) ran a good one against Res Ipsa last out and the latter one is at the top of her game. American Cowgirl will close late and needs a cleaner trip that she has been getting. But this jock, Gabriel Saez, can ride when he is on his game and this trainer, Buff Bradley, can train and won one on opening day here. A huge “dot” play (must use) for me. Cinder (2) is a steady filly, who won her last out as the favorite. Has hit the board in four of the last five outs, and has been better with the addition of blinkers. Sensitive (9) gets her first start of the year for a new trainer, who does well with the first start after acquiring (.30 win percentage). I bet the 11 to win/place and then key over/under all the numbers. Another key in the Pick 3s and the Doubles.


9th: 6-12-11-5-7-(14)…If Promise Me Freedom (14) draws in, you have to consider…But, if not, I go this route…Gladtobehere (6) drops way down the ladder for a good trainer/jock combo (.25 win percent together). But trainer does not do well in the switch from dirt to grass. So, what to do? I still go with the 6 in here, and, if he can duplicate anything close to his run three back, then he should run away with this one on the lead. The German-bred Samicean (12) is another class dropper, who comes from the clouds. Needs a clean trip to have a shot. Event (11) comes to KY via Lone Star Park for a solid barn. This stalker gets back on the grass, and should contend with the class drop, as well. I bet the 6 to win/place and then box the 6-12-11 and the 6-12-5 in the exactas.