McLean’s “Select” Selections for Del Mar (Huge Pick 5 Carryover), Ellis Park (Huge Day), & Saratoga on Sunday, Aug. 19

Day Results14-5-4-5
2018 Overall 1192441-438-532
Win % of Top Pick37.00%
Payoff % of Top 3 Picks Overall39.50%

We had a good, yet inconsistent, day on Saturday. Posted 5 wins in 14 races, but did hit for sever nice exacts. We cashed for a $21.50 for ever $1 wagered in the 6th at Ellis Park; we hit for $32, $19, and $21.80 for each $1 bet at Saratoga; and we had a $22.90 for a $1 bet at Del Mar.

Still, we let a pretty good day get away from us late at Del Mar, where we only posted 2 wins in 6 races and one of those was the huge favorite in Accelerate.

What a day today could offer up, though. Huge carryover in the first Pick 5 at Del Mar. Great day of racing down at Ellis Park. And, some nice grass races at Saratoga — if the rains ever subside enough for the mowers to work and the sod to dry out.

So, here we go:

Del Mar Race Course:

1st: 6-5-4-3-1…The huge carryover and the Pick 5 will begin right here, and let’s just be honest, OK? This is going to be a tough one to hit. Wide open races throughout the sequence, and this one is as tough to separate as any of the five. I will go Point Piper (6), who is bumping up in class a notch after nearly winning here on July 20. Lost by a dirty nose that day closing hard along the rail. But this 8YO son of Giant’s Causeway has run three times over this dirt track. He has a win and two seconds. The last try was his first race in two months, and I am hoping he doesn’t bounce off that really good effort. Trainer is having a solid meet and is a HOFer. Avanti Bello (5) is another moving up in the class rankings after he nipped our top choice in the last out. That was this one’s third start off a layoff, and he looked in peak form for that that. Likes to stalk the pace closely, but despite the win this one returns to a rider who has not had much luck with him in the past. Perhaps the drop last time out shook this one up a bit. Mercer Island (4) was claimed last time out, and the new trainer hits with .20% of those returning for the first time after the purchase. Was a beaten favorite at the same level the other two ran at, as well, and it was the third race in a row this one has been plucked from the claim box. Trainer hits with .17% of those returning from the loss as the favorite. Nice work here on Aug. 2. I bet the 6 to win/place/show and then box the 6-5 solidly in one exacta. I key the 6-5 over/under the 4-3-1 in two more.

2nd: 4-1-6-7-3-2-5…I will concentrate on the top two numbers in this sequence, as well, but it is a tough race to narrow the field, too. Royal Creed (4) will be making his first start for a new trainer, who scores with .11% of those making the barn debut. He will also be making his first start west of the Mississippi. Had a really nice work here on Aug. 9, and had back-to-back wins in December and May. Hooked a really good one last time out in a grass allowance at Woodbine. Now, drops into the claiming ranks for the first time ever, as well. Mystery. Trainer is 0-0-1 in 9 starts this meet. Heartfullofstars (1) should be a more reliable bet in this spot. Moves from the grass back to the dirt after trying the turf in the last three outs. Ran fifth to Vino Rosso in the G2 Wood Memorial back in April, and now will be dropped into the claiming ranks for the first time Trainer hits with .30% of those making this plunge. Works a bit on the tardy side of late, but the one here on July 29 suggests that he is plenty fit enough. The one to beat. Neighborhood Bully (6) gets a bump up in class today after running second here on July 26. Closed very late in that one, going 4-wide into the stretch. The meet’s hottest rider returns to the saddle and this son of Scat Daddy could improve today with the third start off the layup. Candy Crew (2), who beat the 6 last time out, was purchased for the $25,000 price tag in that one, and the new trainer is just .04% in the first try after the claim. Beware. I bet the 4-1 across the board and then box the top 3 solidly in the exacta.

3rd: 3-6-1-2-7-5-4-8…This is a 1-mile event over the grass course, and another tough one with many choices to choose. I will focus on the top 3 in this slot, led by Dominating Woman (3). This one comes from the barn of Peter Miller, who is having an outstanding meet (.29% winners from 72 starters). She has raced twice in her career over this sod, and has won both times. Trouble is? She will be making her 2018 debut today, and the trainer hits with .19% away from the races this long. Gets a new rider for this one, but he got a win on Saturday. This one has shown the ability to run well off the bench in the past. Quebec (6) is the horse to beat, IMO, after nearly winning the last time out here on July 29. Will shorten up a bit after that one extended her, and this daughter of Into Mischief has a win and a second in three starts at this distance previously. Will get a hot rider in the saddle for the first time. Dam was a winner who has thrown three turf winners already. Nice work here on Aug. 10. Can’t leave out, IMO. Helen Hillary (1) has two seconds and a win in the last three starts and has never been better. Four races back, she was entered in the G3 Torrey Pines Stakes here, and that didn’t go well, but she has returned to run much better in the first two starts this year. A 4YO daughter of Harlan’s Holiday has a win and two seconds in 4 starts at this distance. This rider has won with 27% of the 15 rides for this barn over the last 60 days. Don’t be afraid to use. I bet the 3-6 across the board and then box the top 3 numbers in the exacta.

4th: 6-2-1-4-3-7-5…I will zoom in on the top three numbers in this grouping, led by The Street Fighter (6). The trainer has only one third in five starts this meet, and this California-bred son of Street Boss will be making his 2018 debut today. But the 4YO colt seems to be working well, and he has a second and a third in two previous runs over this dirt track. His last start came in the G1 Malibu Stakes at Santa Anita in December, and he was simply out-classed in that event. A complete throw-out for me. A deep closer will need some racing luck late, but he gets the services of HOF rider Mike Smith in the saddle. Wow. Surfing Star (2) is another from the same barn. He has run well so far this year, with a win and a second. Got beat as the odds-on favorite in the last try, and the trainer does hit with .33% of those the next time out. Has not run since March, and the trainer hits with .14% of those away from the races this long. Perfect Wager (1) will get the saddle from a hot trainer (.24% winners in 34 starts this meet), and he is coming into this one off two straight wins — the last of which came here on Aug. 3 against Open Company. That’s impressive. Looks good right now, and gets a rider who has a 2-0-1 record in the last five starts for this barn. I bet the 6-1 across the board (take note) and then box the top 3 in the exacta.

5th: 3-6-8-12-7-11-10-1…The final leg of the Pick 5 is a 5-furlong sprint over the grass course — which I think is one of the toughest races in the world to handicap. One bobble. One mistake. One little hesitation and this one is lost. I will focus on the top 2 numbers in here, led by the 3YO filly Orageuse (3). This one nearly won last time out going 6.5-furlongs down the hill at Santa Anita. But, once again, that was last October. This one, too, will be making her 2018 debut for a trainer that does well off this kind of layup (.21% in the last 108 starters). Like the move here on Aug. 9. And, the dam of this one has thrown a turf winner. Colonel Power (6) will get the saddle from one of the hottest trainers on the grounds (.20% winners in the last 40 mounts). Won the G1 Pacific Classic yesterday. This one will be getting to the grass for the first time after nearly winning a sprint at Los Alamitos in the last start. Was nipped in that one as the odds-on favorite. Trainer hits with .13% of those making the first grass start, and with .17% of those returning as the beaten favorite. This filly is by Colonel John, who gets his fair share of turf winners. Shorter distance could help this one, who likes the front end, and the dam has 3 winners from the first 5 starters — and three turf wins. She Be Striking (8) is a first timer from the same barn as our top choice. Has been training well, and the trainer does hit with .11% of those making the debut on the grass. Very well bred and the dam was a Stakes Winner. Should love the grass. I bet the 3-6 across the board and then box the top 3 numbers in the exacta.

My Pick 5 Bet: 6-5-4-3 / 4-1-6-7 / 3-6-1 / 6-2-1 / 3-6 @ .50-cent ticket = $144

A More Conservative Bet: 6-5-4 / 4-1 / 3-6-1 / 6-2-1 / 3-6 @ .50-cent ticket = $54

8th: 4-1-3-13-11-12-7…G2 Del Mar Mile Handicap…A tremendous field as been assembled for this 1 mile event over the turf, and some of the best in here may be compromised by the far outside posts. So, I will concentrate on the top 3 picks in here, led by Sharp Samurai (4). This one has run four times over this grass course previously, and has two wins and a second. The only time he missed the board was a fourth in the G1 Hollywood Derby here last November when he was beaten a length for all of it by Mo Town. Has returned this year with a win and a tough-beat second the last time out in the G2 Eddie Read. I like the third try off the layup, where the trainer hits with .22% of the last 91 times. HOF rider in the saddle. My pick. Catapult (1) nipped my top choice last time out, closing with a flurry. One of the meet’s top riders returns for this one, but he will need significant racing luck closing from the inside in here. Shortens up to a mile, and that could help the top one over this one, too. But since this son of Kitten’s Joy was moved from the East Coast and from Chad Brown, the new trainer is doing quite well with him. Look for improvement in this spot too as the trainer hits with .22% of those making the third start off a layoff, as well. True Valour (3), who is 20-1 in the ML, may add some real value to this mix. He was right there in the Eddie Read and just didn’t finish with the type of kick that is needed. Will get treated with Lasix for the first time in here, and the shorter distance should really help this one. Don’t dismiss this one at a price. I bet the 4-3 across the board (take note) and then box the top 3 numbers in the exacta. I key the top 3 over the 13-11-12 in a smaller version.

Ellis Park:

4th: 4-3-2-1…A nice route race over the extra firm grass course here, and I will go with Animus (4) in this spot — despite the fact that this sod is playing heavily in favor of front end speed. This son of Bernardini cost $300,000 as yearning, and broke the maiden in style last time out. Will convert to the grass today for the first time, but the trainer hits with .13% of those making the surface transition. This one ran third to Mr. Freeze and third to Tenfold in the past. Nice company. If he can overcome the track bias, he looks the best. Bryzzo (3) is the ML favorite, even though he has not been close in each of the last two tries. High-priced son of Medaglia d’Oro didn’t run well here over the grass last summer, either. But he cost $500,000 as a Keeneland September Yearling and has been training super fast at Churchill Downs for the Romans barn. Dam has three turf winners. Should be better today. Al Taweel (2) is another deep closer in this field, but he ran super well here on July 27 in his first start since early January and first time in N.A. The trainer equips with blinkers today, and he hits with .11% of those getting the shades for the first time. Is now a gelding, too. That is the ultimate equipment change. I bet the 4-2 across the board and then box the top 3 in the exacta.

5th: 7-3-4-6-5-9-1….A 5-furlong event for 2YO fillies, and I will go with the first timer starter Eskendar (7), who comes from the barn of trainer Steve Asmussen. The trainer is a bit cold here this meet (.09% in 70 starters), but those was training lights out at Lone Star Park before being shipped here in late July. Trainer hits with .18% making the debut in the MSW ranks. Elle Factor (3) has two seconds and a third in four tries so far, but is moving back from the turf to the dirt today. Trainer hits with only .04% of those making that change. Has the speed to be a factor here, though. Que Sera Sera (4) goes for a barn that is hot everywhere these days. Has 3 wins in just 12 starts here this meet, and is hitting with .12% from debut runners this year. Training OK for this one, and gets the barn’s #1 rider. Can’t dismiss. I bet the 7 to win/place/show and the box the top 3 in the exacta.

6th: 4-7-8-10…Normally, I would just leave this race alone, but I really like the 2 numbers in this sequence. Katie’s Reward (7) has won two in a row here and ran very well on debut for this barn. Should not be surprised if she returns to run well again in this spot and is 9-2 ML odds. The horse to beat should be Jemrose (10), who is 6-1 ML odds. This one is trained by the father of the top choice’s trainer. They ran 1-2 last time out and may do it again at a price. If you are looking for a surprise pick? May try Krissy’s Manicure (8). Trainer hs two thirds just three starts this meet, but this one is dropping down in class today and could be a nice price, as well. The top pick, My Peeps (4), may be a bit vulnerable despite the class drop. She is coming in from Indiana, and has not been close in the last three tries. I bet the 7-10 across the board and then box the 7-10-4 in one exacta, and the 7-10-8 in another.

7th: 3-4-1-2-9-8…What a wonderful MSW event this one has turned out to be. That’s the way it looks on paper. I have to put Meadow Dance (3) on top here. The connections are just so red hot — winning with .33% here this meet in 51 starts. Training lights out, to boot. Sire has been getting some fast runners and the dam has one winner in one starter. Adds up. But don’t leave out Bourbon Girl (1) from your exotic plays. Wished she had drawn anything but the #1 hole for the debut, but his one can gas, and is 20-1 odds. Love the trainer, who has hit with .20% winner here this meet and has been in the money in 3 of 5. I bet the 3-1 across the board and then box the top 3 in one exacta. I key the top 3 over the 2-9-8 in a smaller version.

8th: 6-4-11-9-2-3-7-10…Ellis Park Debutante Stakes…What a nice Stakes event this one has carded. I absolutely love Somewhere (6) in this spot, and she is definitely my Best Bet of the Day. She is coming off a super, run-away win at Churchill Downs on June 29 to break the maiden. And, she has trained superbly since that event, as well. This trainer knows a good one when he gets them, and she could be his next really good thing. Rooting like heck for my good friend Buff Bradley right here. He needs another Groupie Doll, don’t you think? About time. Profound Legacy (4) has run twice to date and has aired in both of them. She broke the maiden at Emerald Downs in Washington back in early June, and was obviously sold to some new connections after that race. Moved to KY and the barn of Ian Wilkes, who knows what to do with a good horse, as well. She won easily here on July 21. Has a great stalking style, and she should relish the more ground today. A tough one. Shanghai Rain (11) ran second to Restless Rider in the Debutante Stakes at Churchill Downs on June 30. She was beaten by 11 that day, but that winner may be an absolute freak of nature. Should run better today, with a stalking presence. Gets a solid jock back up. I bet the 6 to win/place/show and then key the 6 over/under the 4-11-9-2. I key the 6-4 over the rest.

9th: 11-4-9-7-10-8-6-2-1…Ellis Park Juvenile Stakes…Another good one right here, and you never know that one of these may turn up in some of the big races down the road. I go with Whiskey Echo (11) in this spot despite the awful post position. This one ran third in the G3 Sanford Stakes at Saratoga last time out, and that should kill his odds in this one. But this son of Tiznow, if he breaks a bit cleaner than he did the last time out, could set sail on another huge performance. The runner-up in his MSW win at Belmont Park came right back to win. This one has real talent. Manny Wah (4) got up by a neck to break his maiden last time out. Before that, though, he ran second to a real good one at Churchill Downs. Two solid performances to date, and she should be able to stretch out farther today with the breeding he has. Dam was a Stakes winner and this one is training very well right now, too. Tobacco Rod (9) is the “other” Asmussen horse in this field, but not to be forgotten. He won here at this distance on July 29, and he was super impressive, despite being bumped hard at the start and losing some ground. Look for this one — who had a great work here on Aug. 9 — to give his teammate a run for the money. I be the 11-9 acorss the board and then box those two solidly in the exacta. I key the 11-9 over the 4-7-10. And, I will key the 11-9 over the 8-6-2-1 in a lesser amount.

Saratoga Race Course (Just My Numbers):

2nd: 7-4-3-1-8-6

3rd: 8-10-1-9-2-7-4-6-5…I key on the #8

4th: 5-1-4-2-3…Focus on top 3

5th: 1A-5-3-11-1-2-8-9-4-7…Wide open, and best are AE horses

7th: 2-8-5-6-9-3-1…A big key on the 2 here, over/under 8-5-6

8th: 1-3-5-6-4-2-7…Another key on e 1 here, over/under the 3-5-6

9th: 9-10-1-2-8-5-4…A key on the 9

Good Luck & All the Best/Gene

Today was a smaller field, a little more speed,” said Ortiz, who won his first Million on his 26th birthday. “Thank God I didn’t have any traffic. On the backside I didn’t want to fight with him, just wanted him to be happy, so when I turned to the backside and went to the two-path I didn’t panic.”

Irad Ortiz, Jr., Rider of the winner
  • 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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