McLean’s Picks For Churchill Downs on Thursday, June 14

Day Results10-3-3-5
Churchill252-83-80-126
Top Pick Win %32.30%
Top Pick ITM % 155-24463.50%
Payoff % of Top 3 Picks at CD38.20%
2018 Overall 841308-312-370
Win % of Top Pick36.70%
Payoff % of Top 3 Picks Overall39.20%

We kick start what should be a thrilling week’s end with a twilight card on Thursday night. The highlight will come on Saturday, when Churchill Downs will host the Stephen Foster Stakes and be the home place for the next public appearance for the newest Triple Crown winner — Justify.

But, first things first. Here is a closer look at Thursday’s program:

1st: 1-5-6-4-2…Promissory Note (1) was claimed last time out, which came at the very first of this Spring/Summer meet on April 28. Now, the filly will be offered for less money in her first start back for a trainer that has hit with 1 winner in the previous 9 starters after a claim. This one does have a nice 1-1-1 record in five previous starts and does come out of a tiring third in the last. Has not raced in 47 days, but sure seems to fit against these and the rail has offered up .27% winners at this distance to date. Mrs. Rocco (5) is the likely PT favorite, but she was claimed two starts back for an $8,000 price tag. Ran for double that last time out and tired late in the slop and going two turns. Now, she is cut back to a sprint and this trainer hits with .25% of those making the second start for this barn after a claim, and .24% with those making the second start for this trainer, overall. Unfading Beauty (6) will step it up a notch today after breaking the maiden at a $10,000 price tag two back. Ran second facing winners for the first time on June 3, and does look sharp right now. Gets the meet’s second leading rider back in the saddle. Has 5 seconds and 4 thirds in 20 lifetime starts, but just the one win. I bet the 1-5 across the board and then box the top 3 numbers in the exacta. I key the top 2 over the 6-4-2 in one smaller version.

2nd: 4-3-1-7-5…Speedmeister (4) will get his third start for the barn that claimed three starts back for $15,000. New operation immediately switched over to the dirt, and ran fourth in the first try against $20,000 opponents. Cut all the way to $8,000 last time out, and this one motored from gate to wire for the victory. Now, will stretch out to a mile and will face about the same level of competition. Trainer hits with .27% of those repeating at the claiming level. Trainer knows what he is doing. Whyruawesome (3) drops dramatically in class for this tilt. Was solid against much tougher at the Fair Grounds four races back, but has not shown much since then. Gets the blinkers off after just one try, but the trainer does hit with .24% of those losing the eye equipment. Meet’s leading rider keeps the mount. Under and Over (1) gets a new rider after this one was claimed last time out. Didn’t run too much in that one, after a wide trip, but did win two races back and has 9 wins for the career in 31 starts. Turned in an OK work her on May 31, and looks ready for this one. I bet the 4 to win/place/show and then box the top 3 numbers in the exacta.

3rd: 2-7-4-1-6-3…Ego Trip (2) lost his inaugural trip over the sod by a slip neck, and was closing hard at the wire in that one on May 20. Trainer and jockey have combined for a 6-2-3- record over the last 16 starts together in two weeks, and this one has some back class to offer optimism for this spot and the future, to boot. Cost $600,000 as a Keeneland September Yearling, and looks ready to graduate in this spot. Mr. Recio (7) goes for a private trainer and the Rigney Racing, LLC and this son of Scat Daddy has solid credentials, too. This one cost $160,000 as a Keeneland September Yearling and was beaten less than 2 in the last start her on May 20 — in the same start. That was this one’s first start since last November, though, and he figures to improve off that race and extra conditioning. Convict Pike (4) will get a new rider for this try after some serious trouble in the last one. Swerved in the early going in that one, but he still closed very well, while beaten less than a length. That was the second start off a layup, and the trainer hits with .07% of those making the third trip after a vacation. Has solid credentials to be tough at the wire, though. I be the 2 to win/place/show and then key the 2 over/under all the numbers listed. I bet more with the 7/4 than the others, though.

4th: 4-9-5-10-8-6-7…Richie G (4) will be making the second career start for a red-hot trainer — who has scored 12 wins in only 27 mounts this meet. Gets a nice drop in class for this one, and had a terrific work here on June 9. This one was bet well in the debut effort, and the jockey has won 3 of 5 starts for this trainer and has won with 68% in 8 mounts for this barn in the last 60 days. Fast track could elevate after the sloppy surface in the debut. My Perfect Graydar (9) set all the fractions in the last race before tiring mightily at the end of that 5 furlong affair in the slop. Now, gets a drop down in class and goes for a red hot jockey, who has 3 wins in the last 6 mounts. One Bet From Even (5) is a first time starter for a barn that has only 1 win in 26 starts this meet. But the trainer does win with .22% of those making the debut in the MC ranks. Solid works here, including one on May 24.  Would add value to the exotics with a solid run. I bet the 4-9 across the board and then box those two solidly in the exacta. I key the top two over the rest in a smaller version.

5th: 3-5-6-2-7-4-1…Maho Bay (3) is a filly that won on debut at the Fair Grounds back in March. After a short break, she came back to run a solid fourth and then a third against much better. The last race, she ran behind Upset Brewing — a top notch filly, who has multiple Stakes placings in her career already. Should fare better against these types today. Haynesfest (5) is a speedball who is cutting back in distance to a one-turn, 7-furlong sprint-like distance. The only time she did that, though, she ran 7th in a MC event. Has hit the board in four in a row and five of the last six, though. Nice work her on May 24 suggests that she is good right now. Clever Serve (6) is a closer with real explosion late. Another one cutting back in distance, but she has only 1 top-3 finish in three tries at the 7-furlongs. Trainer hits with .25% this meet, and is the leading trainer here, to boot. I bet the 3 to win/place/show and then box the top 3 in one exacta. I key the top 3 over the rest in a smaller version.

6th: 4-7-9-5-3-6-8-1-10…Once again, I will focus on the top 3 numbers in this sequence. Asmussen will put the saddle on a Winchell Thoroughbreds LLC homebred, who just so happens to be by Tapit and out of a Stakes-winning City Zip mare. This one has been training lights out, too, with a super nice work here on June 4. Barn hits with .17% of those making the debut in the MSW ranks. Should be well supported at the windows. Strike Silver (7) is a colt that was purchased for $275,000 as a yearling last October. Sire scores with .20% with first time starters, and this has has trained quite nicely for the barn of Mark Casse. On June 2, he worked a bullet over at Keeneland. He did that previous in Lexington on May 8. Obviously, he can run some. Sir Winston (9) is another from the Casse barn. Son of Awesome Again may want more ground, but this one has trained awfully well over at Keeneland, too. This one gets the meet’s top rider up. I bet the 4 to win/place/show and then key the 4 over/under all the other numbers listed. I focus more over the 7-9, though. Solid in that one.

7th: 7-6-5-8-2-(9)…The last number in this grouping only will run if the race is moved off the turf, which is unlikely considering the forecast. If he does draw in, though, he moves immediately to the front of the class. If not, I go with May Lily (7). This one will be stretching out from a 5.5-furlong sprint to a mile distance, but this one broke the maiden going two turns last summer at Ellis Park. I think she will relish the extra distance, and close with a real purpose at this distance. She has hit there board in the last five tries, with two wins in that mix. Look for another strong run in here. Dagney’s Warrior (6) will get the saddle from a red-hot trainer, who has 10 wins in just 26 starts this meet. This one accounted for a win here on May 25, and now has won two in a row looking for a third. Since adding the blinkers three starts back, this one has not been worse than third. Will be either on or pushing the lead and likes the distance, too. Ellery Lane (5) is not without a shot in here, as well. Ran in two straight Stakes events and was beaten only 21/4 lengths in the Tropical Park Oaks at Gulfstream Park in the last try on Dec. 30. Has been given some time off since then, but the trainer does hit with .24% of those making the debut for this barn and with .16% of those coming off this type of a vacation. Nice work over at Keeneland on June 4. I bet the 7-5 to win/place/show and then box the top 3 in the exacta. 

8th: 7-9-3-1-4…I key on the top two numbers in today’s finale. Claret Jug (7) broke the maiden last time out for the Dale Romans barn, and they hit with .22% when trying winners for the first time. This one was the easiest type of winner in the last try, when dropped to his career low level. The last was the first try over the dirt, and he will try that surface again today. Dynamic Response (9) won by even a bigger margin last time out, pulling away to capture the first win by 81/4 lengths. In two tries over the dirt, this one has a fourth and a win, but was cut off in the previous try. Trainer scores with .24% with those in the claiming ranks.  Could be closing with a rush. I bet the 7-9 across the board and then box those two only in one exacta. I key those two over the rest in a smaller version.

Good Luck & All the Best/Gene

I didn’t think the fractions were real, real fast. I think it was a good race and was what we needed. Hopefully we come out of here really good and get that mile and a quarter. We knew we were up against it a little at a mile and an eighth and that we would have an advantage when he goes a little longer. This is a good steppingstone – we were within two lengths of the winner, so this is one we can build off and go to Churchill Downs.“I wanted to go in here really positive, so I think this is a nice race coming off that really hard race (the San Felipe Stakes). Hopefully we get to come back really good.”

Mick Ruis, Owner/trainer of runner-up Bolt d’Oro who ran the Santa Anita Derby
  • 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 ...

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