McLean’s Picks For Keeneland on Wednesday, Oct. 17

Day Results9-3-3-4
2018 Overall 1529567-559-668
Win % of Top Pick37.08%
Payoff % of Top 3 Picks Overall39.11%
Top Selection ITM / KEE: 51-7865.38%
Top Selection Win / KEE 28-7835.90%
“Key Horses”: 7-3-1 in 13 races53.85%

We are back to racing on Wednesday, and we are hoping for a bit of warmer and dryer weather up at Keeneland’s most beautiful venue. Don’t know if we will get it, since those chaps that predict the conditions are calling for cooler temps. But hope does spring eternal. That’s why we are always back trying to find the next winner.

Here’s a look at today’s 8-race card. And, it is a tough one. Nearly every race is what I would consider “wide open.”

1st: 9-10/4-1-11/7-2-3…A Maiden-Claiming event to start the day, and I will try to focus my betting strategy around two horses that are parked on the outside. While the outside has not been a good spot to be in the two-turn races so far this meet, it is OK for the sprints. And, by the looks of things on paper, both of these should have enough early lick to carve out a good spot early on. My top pick is the first time starter Summer Lovin (9), who comes from the Eddie Kenneally barn. He hits with .11% of those making the debut, but inches up to .14% when they make the gate for the first time in a MCL event. Love the recent work here on Oct. 9, which was super fast. At this level, if she can duplicate that kind of speed, she will def have a shot here. Concord Coupe (10) is definitely the one to beat. Ran in a MSW event last time out at Indy Grand over the sod. Now, this one gets the plummet to the near basement and moves to the dirt. Barn hits with .17% of those going from grass to dirt, but moves way up to .29% winners when going from MSW ranks to the MCL level. Has a second and two thirds in 4 lifetime starts to date, and gets a top rider up. I bet the 9-10 across the board and then box those two solidly in one exacta. I will key the 10 over/under the 4-1-11 in two more.

2nd: 2-1-7/5-3-6-4…Ivy’s College Fund (2) has raced three times in her career at Keeneland, and she has two wins to show for her efforts. Last time seen here was April 27, and she aired a similar group at this level. Didn’t fare too well in the last two, but drops back down into the claiming ranks again today, and the works suggest she is ready for another top effort. Rider may not be known to you, but he does have 2 wins in 6 mounts this meet. Arch Arch Baby (1) shifts back to the dirt after a failed experiment down at KY Downs. The last time this one was at this level, she won at Churchill Downs going this distance. The last three have been against much tougher. Should benefit from the drop and she does have a second in only try here before. Radiantrithym (7) bumps up in class for this one, but does have a win and two thirds in 4 tries here. Won here in the Spring at $10,000 level. Will need her best today to have a shot. I bet the 2 to win/place/show and then box the top 2 numbers in the exacta. I will key the 2 over/under the 1-7-5-3-6-4 in two more.

3rd: 12-11-9/3-2-(16)/4-10-6-8…Hopefully, this 1-mile grass event will stay on the turf today, but if it does it most certainly will be contested over a “good” or “soft” ground. Handicap accordingly, and look for either past performances over a giving ground or a pedigree that can take some give to the surface. (If it is moved off the turf, we will come back to edit the picks later.) I will go outside for my top picks here, led by Lake Nakuru (12). While this 2YO gelded son of Animal Kingdom has only run over firm ground to date, I do like the way he has been close in each of the two previous races. The sire was all-purpose, and the rider is a big move up. Looks like the connections are firing on all fronts today. Dollar Blue (11) will be stretching out from a 5-furlong move to a flat mile today, but this one should appreciate the extra distance. Dam has two turf winners from three starters to date, and another huge rider switch here. This jockey is one of my favorites on the grass. Could pull the upset at some tall odds. Upset Special. Fake Solution (9) is the second son of Real Solution from this barn that I have liked this meet. The other ran in a Stakes, and ran OK. About 5th or so. Loomed large at the top, and then settled. This one should really appreciate the added distance today, and has been working very well. Barn hits with .16% of those making a route for the first time, and with .12% of those racing for the second time. Gets a hot rider in the saddle — especially on the sod. I bet the 12-11 across the board and then box the top 3 numbers in the exacta.

4th: 12-1/(13)-4-3-7/9-10-11-(15)…The odds are not good this meet when you like a horse parked on the outside in a route race at Keeneland. My good friend Ed DeRosa, over at, will tell you so. Stats don’t lie in this case. The outside horses just have not won. But…Seeking Bull (12) just looks much the best on paper to me. Will be dropping significantly in class today, and does pick up a solid rider — even though he has struggled here this meet. The one to beat, though, may be Katie the Cutie (1), and this one does draw the preferable rail and a top rider here this meet. Has been racing up in Cincy of late, but does have a win at this level coming in. If Native Wonder (13) draws in from the AE list, then I will have to use underneath — despite the fact that the outside horses have had absolutely no shot when going a two-turn race here this meet. And, despite the fact that the barn is 0-for-16 this year when the horse switches from turf to dirt. This one just seems to fit in here off the last two. Probably should avoid much in the way of a strong bet here, but I will try the 12-1 across the board and box the top 3 in the exacta. I will key the 1 over/under the 13-4-3-7 in two smaller versions.

5th: 9-5-1-7/10-3-2-6…Langdarma (9) will get a new rider today after a very wide and eventful trip at Churchill Downs last time out. The winner of that one has already come back to win again, and this one may have been better. Drops in class today, and that should assist in the effort, as well. Has a solid 2-2-1 record in 9 starts this year, and that is the best of this group. Shareholder Value (5) could be the horse to beat and the best value, though. Has 2 wins in 9 starters this year, as well, but 4 seconds to boot. Was claimed the last two times out, and will go for a trainer that hits with .09% of those making the first start for the new connections. Was a beaten favorite, and the barn hits with .15% of those. Should be running well at the end. Like the new rider. Capital Letters (1) has not hit the board in three starts this year, but should benefit from the third try off a layup. Barn scores with .21% of those, and has been working very well of late. Don’t dismiss, and I like the 10-1 odds. I bet the 9-5 across the board and then box the top 3 numbers in the exacta. I will key the top 3 over/under the 7 in two more.

6th: 10-4-6/7-2-8-3-1…Back to the outside in this grass sprint event, and I am really looking forward to the return of Snapper Sinclair (10). This son of City Zip was a true champ earlier this year. He ran a huge third to Instilled Regard in the G3 Lecompte Stakes at the Fair Grounds, and then followed that up with a head-bobbing nose decision to Bravazo in the G2 Risen Star. Looked like his transition to the dirt was going very well, but then he had a serious hiccup in the G2 Louisiana Derby — when he finished fifth and was beaten 11 lengths. Has not been seen in the afternoons since March 24. Now, he returns to the same surface and distance where he broke his maiden by 4 lengths — at Saratoga. So, he has experience and class at this surface, as well. Can’t wait to see him back in action. I bet the 10 to win/place/show and then key the 10 over/under the 4-6. I will key the 10 over (only) the 7-2-8-3-1 in a much smaller version.

7th: 9-11-2-7/4-1-10-3-6…Another wide open event here, and I will spread out at least four deep in the horizontals. Midnight Karma (9) will get a slight edge for me. This 2YO filly will get the saddle from the Steve Asmussen barn for the first time, after she won so impressively (by 12 lengths) on debut at Delaware Park on Aug. 27. Obviously, she was purchased privately after that event, and has since been shifted to Asmussen and his Churchill Downs base. Works OK since her acquisition, and she gets the barn’s #1 rider in the saddle today. I look for big things from her, and love the 5-1 odds. Street Band (11) ran huge in her second career start when she was treated with Lasix for the first time. Appeared that she must have bled in the initial start at Delaware in July, when she completely stopped in that event. Work here on Oct. 12 was super nice, and the trainer hits with .26% of those when facing winners for the first time. Thunderous Gem (2) is 8-1 ML odds, and perhaps the most experienced and accomplished of those matching up here. She did run second over the all-weather surface at Arlington Park in the Arlington-Washington Lassie Stakes on Sept. 8. Came back to run third in a Stakes event over the artificial surface at Presque Isle in the last. Now, she shortens up a tad and that should help her speed, too. Gets a top rider, who is winless this meet, in the irons. Due. I bet the 9-11 to win/place/show and then box the top 3 in the exacta. I will key the top 3 over/under the 7 in two more at a smaller price level.

8th: 2-9-7-8/-10/3-5…Today’s finale is a wide-open event, as well. I will go with Blue Lute (2), despite the fact that he is graduating from a MCL win and will face winners for the first time today. The barn hits with .16% of those moving up to this level for the first time, and this one was so very impressive in his win at KY Downs last time out. Ran off to a near 5-length win over a surface that is tough to motor away from up the hill in the stretch. Trainer scores with .21% of those running for the second time off a layup, and this one looks good right now. Discovered (9) is much more accomplished and has stronger credentials, as well. This 3YO son of Gemologist has already won three times, and has 4 seconds and 2 thirds, to boot. Ran well winning over the all-weather at Arlington Park two back and was a game second at Churchill Downs last time out. But…the distance may be an issue for this one. And, there is plenty of speed in this tilt. That may compromise this one’s ability to carry the distance at low odds. Bacoli (7) is 20-1 ML odds, and my second Upset Special. This 4YO gelded son of Colonel John is moving up in class off a nice turf win at Ellis Park on Sept. 2. That was the second start off a layup, and he has since returned to work regularly here. The thing I like about this one is that he has won at this distance — which precious few have done. Gets a top rider in the irons, too. Watch out. I bet the 2-7 across the board and then box the top 3 numbers in the exacta. I will key the top 3 over/under the 8 in a smaller version.

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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