McLean’s Saratoga “Spot Plays” for Thursday, Aug. 29 — Really

I need to apologize to all for my “Spot Plays” on Wednesday. I was looking at the wrong day. In fact, I was looking at the PPs for a race day that was 4 days old. 

I should have won, right?

Can’t explain my “jet lag,” other than to cry foul due to “jet lag.” But I want to tell you all that I am extremely sorry for the mistake.

Today, I double checked. And, in fact, we are on the right date. Now, I hope that I have some of the right “picks.”

Here’s my quick look, while I hope you are still sleeping. I am posting at 3:30 a.m. ET. But it is 7:30 a.m. here in Iceland:

Race 4: This is a 5.5-furlong sprint over the sod (here’s hoping it stays on the grass). And, I will go to the outside to land on my top selections. Surge Pricing (7) was claimed last time out off the highly successful barn operation of trainer Chad Brown. The 3YO Animal Kingdom gelding won that event here on July 27 by a front-running and easy 2-length lead. The new barn wins at a whopping .34% rate when running the barn newbies for the first time, and this one breezed very well here on Aug. 24. Has 2 wins in the first 3 starts, and the dam of this one has 3 turf winners already. All adds up for me. Wild One Forever (8) was also claimed last time out. New trainer hits with .18% on the first try. Since adding the blinkers two starts ago, this one has been a different horse. The 3YO gelded son of City Zip was a near-miss second, and then won at Belmont on July 7 by a zooming 83/4-lengths. That is an amazing distance over the sod. I bet the 7-8 across the board and then box those two in the exacta.

Race 8: This is a 6-furlong sprint and I will lean to Ray’swarrior (4) — who is truly an old warrior. The 7YO gelded son of Majestic Warrior has a record of 7-6-2 in 22 lifetime starts, but has been really good this year with a win and 3 seconds in 4 starts. Won a Stakes event last time out by 4 at Monmouth Park on July 4. Likes to speed from the gate. Will try to gas them in the early going. Mr. Dougie Fresh (5) is the roommate of the top pick, and has some credentials, too. In 6 starts this year is 2-2-1. Coming off a third last time out, but ran just 5 lengths behind Catalina Cruiser in the G2 True North before that. Don’t discount. If you are looking for a price, you might add in California Night (8). No match in the Kelly’s Landing last time out, but has 3 wins in 6 starts this year for a trainer having a solid meet here. Fits with most of these. I bet the 4-5 across the board and then box the top 3 in the exacta.

Race 9…PG Johnson Stakes…This is a 11/16-mile test over the grass for the 2YO fillies, and I will go with the 8-1 ML longshot Ginseng (3). This daughter of Tiznow won on debut in impressive fashion. Geared down at the wire of the 1-mile debut and still won by an easy 21/2 lengths. Now, gets a huge rider switch for this one and should be a handful. Love, love, love the work here last time. My choice. Crystalle (6) should be one of the favorites. This daughter of Palice Malice is trained by John Kimmel and came from the clouds to break the maiden at first asking. Have to use. Sweet Melania (8) is another to consider. I bet the 3 across the board and then box the top 3 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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