McLean’s Picks for Churchill Downs on Wednesday, Nov. 7

Day Results9-3-4-2
2018 Overall 1656615-596-733
Win % of Top Pick37.14%
Payoff % of Top 3 Picks Overall39.13%
Top Selection ITM / CD Nov 24-4455.55%
Top Selection Win / CD Nov 16-4436.36%
“Key Horses” @ CD Nov: 11-5-2-045.45%

After a wonderful Breeders’ Cup — from a fan perspective — when now embark on the remainder of what promises to be a fantastic November meet at Churchill Downs. The horses, trainers and jockeys are all here and poised to finish the year out in what could be one of the best November meets in the history of the iconic track.

Here is a closer look at today’s card, with abbreviated comments:

1st: (10)-9-1/5-4-8/6-2…If this event is moved off the grass course, then I will immediately go to the only entry that is for the “Main Track Only.” If it stays, I will focus on two horses, led by Gentle Ruler (9). This one is from the barn of Ian Wilkes and has tried to break the maiden 10 previous times. Has 3 seconds and 4 thirds and looks like she loves to “hang” late in the going. Should figure strongly in this spot, though, and could break through that barrier today. Limari (1) could be a surprise in this group, though. She will get the saddle from Brad Cox for the first time today and will be starting for the first time since being moved East from the Jerry Hollendorfer barn. Works look good and this barn hits with these newcomers all the time, and with .27% of those routing for the first time. Love the breeding. I bet the 9-1 across the board and then box those two solidly in one exacta. I will key the 9-1 over the 5-4-8 in a smaller version.

2nd: 7/2-1-4/6-3-5…American Mandate (7) is my first “Key Play of the Day.” This 2YO son of Strong Mandate is coming off two nice wins to start the career. Ran a tiring third in the mud here last time out, but should like a little drier track and ran second to an impressive closer in the debut. Look for this one to stalk the pace and have first run to break the maiden today. I bet the 7 to win/place/show and then key the 7 over/under the 2-1-4 in two solid exactas. I will key the 7 over (only) the 6-3-5.

3rd: 4-6/3-1-2-7/5-8…I will focus on the top two numbers in this sequence, led by Dancing Waves (4). This one ran poorly last time out, but there was a reason. Go take a glance at the video. Had to steady hard on the backstretch and lost all chance to have a shot. Ran very well here two starts back to win and has a 2-1-0 record in 5 starts over this track. Look for a return to that form today. Indian Gem (6) won last time out and the barn hits with .13% of those trying to repeat in the claiming ranks. Over the last four races, she has hit the board three times, and she figures at this level. Has a win in two starts here, and gets a solid rider who won on her last out. I bet the 4-6 across the board and then box those two solidly in the exacta. I will key the 4-6 over the 3-1-2-7 in a smaller version

4th: 7-5-11/1-4-2/8-3-9-10…Happy’s Reflection (7) will get the saddle from one of the hottest trainers in Kentucky these days. They have a 5-4-3 record in 23 starts here (22%), but they ripped off three wins in a row over at Keeneland to end that meet, too. Jockey is red hot, as well, with a 4-2-0 record in 14 rides over the last two weeks. this one has run two solid seconds up at Indy Grand in the only two career starts. Now, drops in class for this one. Should be tough to hold off today. Stolen Beauty (5) ran very green the first time out and lost position in the early going after breaking well. Look at the work at Keeneland on Oct. 3. Has the talent to dominate here and gets class relief, as well. A live longshot for me. Mom I Forgive You (11) comes from the Brad Cox barn and is a first timer. The trainer hits with .21% of those starting for the first time for a price tag. Working solid here for the debut. Can’t dismiss anything from this barn. I bet the 7-5 across the board and then box the top 3 in the exacta. I will key the top 3 over the next 3 in a much, much smaller version.

I will be back with the rest of the card.

5th: 1-10-12/3-7-4/2-9-5…Laser Lee (1), a 2YO Data Link filly trained by Joe Sharp, gets a slight edge in this 1-mile event over the dirt. This one dropped into this price level last time out and nearly won here, before tiring late. Will get the second route trip today and the barn hits with .18% of those. Like the work on Oct. 18, and her chances here. Vortices (10) goes for my good friend Buff Bradley today. Drops into the MCL ranks for the first time, and will be switching back to the main track after 3 turf tries in a row. Like the recent work, and the barn hits with .16% of those going for a price tag for the first time. Dangerous in this spot. Bobby Lee (12) will be making her second career start at this level. Set the early fractions that day, but went too rapid to last. Now, stretches out for the first time and the barn hits with .21% of those that go from sprint to routes. I bet the 1-10 across the board and then box the top 3 in one exacta.

6th: 10-8-7/3-5-4-1/2-6…I will focus on the top 3 in this sequence, led by Lngtermrelationship (10). This 3O gelding is a Maryland-bred and just three races ago faced State-breds in a Stakes event at Laurel Park. Now, he shows up here in a Claiming event for a $30,000 price tag. Like the recent work, and the trainer knows how to spot them. Gets the blinkers for the first time today, and may prefer the dry dirt this time over the last out. Could improve immensely for this one. El Cucuy (8) ran a huge one three starts back here to break the maiden. Moved to Keeneland, where he was plucked out of the claiming box. No chance after setting the fractions over the slop at Keeneland in the last out, against much tougher. Gets back to this level today, and should have big shot in here at a nice price. Upset Special. Rushin Tothecircle (7) is a horse I have used before. Broke the maiden over grass three starts back and has dropped down to a career low level today. Could improve with a late run against these, and has a shot. I bet the 10-8 across the board and then box the top 3 in the exacta.

7th: 8-4-3/6-7-2… Aife (8) has already won three times, including the last out at Keeneland, where she was claimed for $50,000. The barn hits with .31% in the first race after the purchase. This one will get a top rider in the saddle today, as well, and has hit the board in each of the last 4 outs. Good right now. Can’t dismiss against a very deep and talented field here. Aerial Assets (4) nearly won last time out at Keeneland against a very nice group. Edged a good one to be second and has since returned to a nice training session. Trainer hits with .20% of those competition in the allowance conditions, and gets a top rider back in the saddle. Clever Serve (3) ran behind our second choice last time out, and had some traffic issues in that one. Comes from way back and should appreciate this distance and track configuration much more than the speed-favoring Keeneland last time out. Barn’s top rider gets back up and he has hit with .21% of the last 102 rides for this barn. I bet the 8 to win/place/show and then box the top 3 choices in the exacta. I will key the 8-3 over/under the 6-7-2 as well.

8th: 2/1-7-6/8-4-3…My second Key Play of the Day. I will go strong with Upset Brewing (2) in this spot today. This one has raced 15 times, with only 1 win to date. But she has 8 seconds and 3 thirds. That would make some shy away from the win window. But it attracts me today. This one has been running against some real good ones, and she is working lights out in the a.m. for my great friend Buff Bradley. I love her in this spot today. I will be the 2 to win/place/show and then key the 2 over/under the 1-7-6. I will key the 2 over (only) the 8-4-3, as well.

9th: 8-6-5/2-3-9/1-4-10-7…What a nice feature today at Churchill Downs, over the grass course. Wide open affair, to boot. You can make a case for about 6 or 7 of them in this spot, but I will give a slight edge to Galton (8), who is 3-1 odds in the ML. This one was claimed two starts back off Mike Maker, by a red-hot barn. Came back to tire and run well back at Keeneland. But this barn hits with .21% on the second start off a claim, and with .19% of those making the second start for this outfit. Love the recent work, and this one had hit the board four previous times with two wins in that mix before the last out. I look for big changes in here today. Heaven Is Waiting (6) won the last time out and loses that condition. Will be forced to move up against tougher today, but has the look of an improving sort for the Maker barn. They hit with .21% of those trying to win two in a row, and this one looks so much better on the sod. I can throw the races two and three back, which were moved to the main track. Nice odds here, too. Sonic Boom (5) is 6-1 odds and capable of so much more than the last out. Ran second two back at KY Downs, but really spit the bit last time out. Barn scores with .16% of those making the third start off a layup, and gets a new jockey in the irons today. Has a win over this grass course in 3 tries. I bet the 8-6 across the board and then box the top 3 in the exacta. I will key the top 3 over the next three in a smaller version.

10th: 8-5-6/9-1-10…The best horse in this race may be a claim prospect, rather than a racing one. If you have $12,500 hanging around and looking to invest in a broodmare, might take a short on Tart N Sassy (3). This daughter of Lemon Drop Kid is out of a Stakes-placed mare, who has already had a winner in the first three starters. Don’t know if this one will ever join those ranks, but she has enough page to warrant a shot at a second career, possibly. As far as runners go? Good Luck finding one in here. Guess if I must, I will pick Undisputed Justice (8) to have a slight edge. The Indiana-bred has run two seconds in a row after a third. But she has never faced open company before. Will be a tougher spot today. Revenge Is Sweet (5) does get Corey Lanerie aboard, and this one trained lights out since the inaugural running. Overmatched on the grass that day, but it could have been a nice learning experience? Curlin’s Prize (6) is another claim prospect. Out of a Stakes-placed mare, as well, and this one has two winners in three starters. Was claimed last time out, and the new barn hits with .12% of those making the first start under the new connections. The one to beat IMO. I bet the 8-6 across and then box the top 3 numbers in the exacta.

Good Luck & 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 ...

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