McLean’s Picks For a Soggy Sunday at Keeneland On Oct. 14

Day Results10-5-5-6
2018 Overall 1520564-556-664
Win % of Top Pick37.11%
Payoff % of Top 3 Picks Overall39.12%
Top Selection ITM / KEE: 45-6965.22%
Top Selection Win / KEE 25-6936.23%
“Key Horses”: 8-2-1 in 11 races72.72%

Great day at the oval on Saturday. Got my first tour and taste of “The Hill.” If you love to tailgate; love the horse races; love to entertain friends and family; and enjoy a festive party atmosphere? Do yourself a favor and pick a nice day to go tailgating with the masses at Keeneland. What fun.

In addition, we had a profitable day. Picked 5 winners from the 10 races, and despite missing out on the horizontals after a nice upset win by Quick Quick Quick, we had some solid winners. In addition to the winning bets, we had exactas that returned $16.30, $6.60, $7.30, and $17.80 for each $1 played. We also hit for a $100 exacta on a $2 wager.

Our “Key” bets continued to roll along. We had two of those on Saturday, and they both won. We also had a “Key” UNDER Play, with Upset Brewing, and true to our call, she ran a nice second. So, in essence, all three of our “Key Plays” finished right were we selected.

Here’s a closer look at today’s card. Keeneland has already announced that the races carded for the turf course are now “off” the sod. So, we are waiting a bit for the scratches. That will make Races 2, 5 and 7 a bit tougher to predict. But we think we have a few winners up the sleeve.

Here’s a look:

1st: 4-6/2-3/7…Went With the Wind (4) has never been on a muddy track in her two previous races, but this 2YO daughter of Warrior’s Reward does have a solid “mud” pedigree. Won the last time out in June at $40,000 price tag. And, the jockey/trainer combo is rather hot right now with a 4-0-3 record in the last 16 times they have teamed up. Barn hits with .18% of those trying winners for the first time. Should run with these. Prayforacure (6) did run over a “good” track last time out and was last and well-distanced. But it appears that she has returned to training OK. Won easily at Ellis Park to break the maiden, and may rebound today. Both La Coyota (2) and Take Aletter Maria (3) have a shot in here, as well. The former broke her maiden over a sloppy track at Belterra, and the latter was just behind her that day. The latter seems to have a bit more speed, and I may try her a bit more. I bet the 4-3 across the board and then box the 4-6-3 in one exacta.

2nd: 3/2…This is the first of three turf races carded on the day, and they all have been moved to the main track. Either surface, I was going to single Reride (3). Despite the fact that this son of Candy Ride has never been on an “off track,” I still think he has the potential to re-develop into a very useful Stakes caliber horse in the future. After winning the Mine That Bird Stakes at Sunland Park, he was shipped to Dubai. Ran third behind Mendelssohn and Rayya in the UAE Derby, although well beaten. Came back to run fourth to stablemate Tenfold in the G2 Jim Dandy. I can toss the last race at KY Downs. Didn’t like the hills there, or so it seems, and was checked early on. I think he dominates in this spot today. My first “KEY” race of the day, and despite the low odds, my first Best Bet of the Day. I bet the 3 to win/place and then key the 3 over the “all button.” (Will Run 11/16th miles over the main track / Scratches are 1-4-6)

3rd: 5/1-7/2-3…My second “KEY” race comes right here. Weiland (5) will get a huge drop in class and hit the claiming ranks for the first time in just his second start for a high percentage barn. Ran third as the even-money favorite last time out at Indy Grand, but may have needed that start. Returns today for a trainer that hits with .31% of those coming back as a beaten favorite. Also the barn hits with .30% of those making the second start for the new connections. And, the barn hits with .24% of those running on Lasix for the second time. Super work at Indy on Oct. 6, and a rider who has won .22% of the last 37 rides for this barn gets up for the first time. Adds up for me. I bet the 5 to win/place and then key the 5 over/under the 1-7. I will key the 5 over (only) the 2-3.

4th: 9-3/2-11-5/10-8-7-4-12…By the looks of things, you would think I have no idea who may win this one. And, you are pretty much right. I will definitely update this race once I get the scratches, but I will most likely stick with my focus on the top 3 in this event. Gator Vindication (9) gets really solid “mud numbers” from the pedigree side of the equation. Although she ran a distant sixth in her only try over a “good” track, the numbers are solid on both the sire and dam side. This rider has hit with .20% of his mounts for this barn, although they rarely hook up. And, the trainer hits with .21% of those returning as a beaten favorite. Gets a slight edge in this group. Franki D Oro (3) goes for a barn that hits with .19% of those making the second career start. Moves up in class after a nice run at Churchill Downs for $20,000 on debut. Tired and finished fourth that day, but the pedigree numbers are solid here, as well, for a “mud” runner. Was well bet in the inaugural event, and the trainer does hit with .13% of those moving up in class and .22% in the MCL ranks.  I bet the 9 across the board and then box the top 3 numbers in the exacta. I will key the top 3 over the next 3 in a much smaller version. (Scratch the 13-14-15-16)

5th: 7-11-1/2-3/5-13…Another dart throw here. This one was originally scheduled for the turf, and has since be moved to the muddy dirt track. As a result, I will go with Mo Wheels Up (7) a daughter of Uncle Mo — who is having one super year. This one nearly won last time out at Churchill Downs and that was on a fast dirt surface. Was heavily favored in both of the career starts to date, but may be able to get the job done today. Dam of this one has 4 winners from 5 starters and 2 turf winners. But the pedigree is super strong for mud runners, as well. Cap de Creus (11) is shipping up from Gulfstream Park to run here today. Trainer is having a super strong meet, winning with .38% of his 13 starters. While the sire side is very strong for “muddy tracks,” the dam side is a bit weak. But this one did run second over a sloppy track at GP on Sept. 2. Has that off track experience. Irish Institution (1) ran very well last time out when getting Lasix for the first time. Has been on the dirt before, running fifth at Saratoga on Aug. 5. If she improves any off the last race, she should be right there and her sire has a strong “mud” preference. I bet the 7-1 across the board and then box the top 3 numbers in the exacta. I will key the 7 over/under the 11-1-2-3-5-13 in a smaller version. (Will run 11/16 miles over the main track / Scratches 4-6-9-10-12-14-16)

6th: 4/7-6-5-3…My next “KEY” play of the day. Maybe Wicked (4) is 6-5 ML odds and is sure to go South from there. This one has solid “mud pedigree” numbers, and is coming off two straight super runs as the favorite. Won one of those and did OK in the second, losing by only a half length. Since getting the blinkers four starts back, she has two wins and a solid runner-up. Trainer scores with .31% of those returning as a beaten favorite, too. I bet the 4 to win/place and then key the 4 over/under the 7-6-5-3. I will key over (only) those numbers in a second version — which is stronger than the first.

7th: 10/7-15-8-6…Another event moved off the sod, and will be contested at 11/16-miles over the main, muddy track. I will “KEY’ on Mary Celeste (10) in this event. This one is coming off a near win at KY Downs on debut, and that is one tough venue to made the career start. Trainer hits with .24% of those making the route for the first time, and this one has super “mud pedigree” numbers — especially on the dam side. Love the works for a trainer that is not shy about asking them in the a.m. I bet the 10 to win/place/show and then key the 10 over/under the other numbers listed. I will key over (only) those numbers in a stronger way. Scratches are 1-2-3-4-5-9-13-14-15-16).

8th: 2-7-8-4/5-3-9…A tough, well-balanced field will contest today’s feature race, which is a 6-furlong sprint over the main track. I will give a slight edge to Curate (2) in this spot. This 4YO gelded son of Bernardini will be making his second career start after running off to an easy win at Ellis Park on Aug. 25. Beat some highly-touted ones in that affair, including the over-bet New Colossus. Trainer scores with .29% of those facing winners for the first time, and this one does have a strong pedigree for the “off track” — especially on the sire side. Training good for the return. Prolific (7) could add some value and spice to this exotic rack, what with the 12-1 ML odds. Gets a top rider n the irons and will be treated with Lasix for the first time. Recent works OK for a trainer who knows where and how to spot them. Look for more out of this one today, despite the layup. Trainer can get them ready off the bench. Bobby’s Wicked One (8) has hit the board in 3 of 4 lifetime starts and has a super pedigree for the “off track” on both sides of the equation. Like the recent works, and the trainer hits with .22% of those returning from this kind of layup. Has a shot at a nice price, too. I bet the 7-8 (Take Note) across the board and then box the top 3 numbers in the exacta. I will key the 7-8 over/under the 2-4-5-3-9. (Scratch the 1-6).

9th: 3/4-5-9/2-1-7-6…I have another “KEY” play in today’s finale. I will single Commandeering (3) in this spot. This one comes from the barn of Brad Cox, who is starting to warm up a tad here after a very cold start. This one has two seconds in two previous starts over an “off going,” and has a solid pedigree number for the mud. Has been facing tougher and should fit nicely in this grouping today. I will bet the 3 to win/place/show and then key the 3 over/under the 4-5-9. I will key the 3 over (only) the 2-1-7-6.

Good Luck, Stay Dry & All the Best/Gene

The horse broke well today,” Gaffalione said. “I had the horse inside, Dunph, going to the lead and then (Gun It) showed a little bit of speed. When I saw they were intent on going I just tried to get him back and got him to relax. He came back to me nicely and settled well down the backside. Got a little keen going into the far turn and wanted to move a little early. But I didn’t want to take too much away from him so I tried to sit as long as I could. He was waiting on horses down the lane but I kept him at task and there was plenty of horse there.”

“Mark (Casse, the trainer) and his team have done a great job,” Gaffalione said. “They’ve had a ton of confidence in this horse the whole way. It’s just an honor to be able to ride the horse. He’s just so professional, trains great and he’s a pleasure to be around.”

Tyler Gaffalione, Rode of War of Will to victory in the G2 Risen Star Stakes at the Fair Grounds
  • Gene McLean

    Gene McLean

    Gene McLean began his professional career in 1977 as a sportswriter and columnist for the Lexington Herald-Leader in Lexington, Ky., and was recognized as one of the state’s best writers, winning the prestigious “Sportswriter of the Year” honor in 1985. Now the President and Publisher of The Pressbox, McLean sets ...

    Full Bio >

More From Gene McLean