McLean’s “Select” Selections for Huge Arlington Park Pick 5 Carryover; Ellis Park’s Huge Day; & Some Saratoga

Day Results9-2-5-1
2018 Overall 1135421-418-507
Win % of Top Pick37.10%
Payoff % of Top 3 Picks Overall39.53%

We got to a red-hot Saturday. And, then the sun began to fade. And, the long shots started to pile up at Arlington Park. And, we began to set. Quickly as a red ball sun on the beach at Key West.

But we are back. Ready for redemption and a try at catching that elusive perfect handicapping day. Let’s try to tackle that huge “Pick 5 Carryover” at Arlington, and what a day at Ellis Park, to boot.

Here we go:

Arlington Park:

4th: 1-8-3-4-6…This will kick off the late Pick 5, which has a carryover of over $355,000 going into today. There will be plenty of those taking a shot at hitting this lovely pot of money, and we will too. It all starts here and there are two horses that seemingly standout in this field, led by Gwendalyn Sue (1). This 4YO filly is 9-5 in the ML, and likely to drop even lower by post time, but there is good reason. She has raced five times to date. All five times, she has run second. The last time came on July 28 on the turf here, when she actually made the lead late before getting caught near the wire. That was 11/8-miles. Today, she shortens up to a mile, and she has run this distance only twice. (That is a big number for this filly: twice.) She ran second at a mile on debut last September, and then was beaten a head here on July 7. Trained bu a solid barn who scores with .26% of those returning as a beaten favorite. This one has been beaten as the top betting choice three times already, though. The rail is solid here, winning at a .20% rate. Has to win sometime, right? Maybe. Could be in a for a dogfight, er, horse fight again today with the trainer’s “other” horse entered. J.A. Curlin (8) is a well bred daughter of Curlin, and out of the Stakes winning mare Victory With Class. She has three starters to date, and two winners from that group. Nice training session at Churchill Downs on Aug. 6. Will be making her second career start on the grass. Ran third in the career debut, and was beaten less than 2 that day. I will bet the 8 across the board and then box the top two numbers solidly in the exacta. I key the 1-8 over/under the 3-4-6 in two more smaller versions.

5th: 8-5-3-2-1-4-7…This one is more wide open, for me. I take the top 3 numbers and try to focus my betting strategy here. But the consistent theme is that I take another Catalano horse on top — A.P. Royal (8). This 3YO colt by Majestic Warrior will be shortening up a 1/2-furlong, and that may compromise this dead closer. Winner of two back has returned to win again, although the runner-up in that one beat the top choice. This one returned the favor last time out, though, when he improved immensely. Lowest odds ever has been $18.80-to-$1. Watch tote board today to see if any more action. Rider has won one of two for this barn. Sensational Zip (5) ran well last time out, beating the top choice solidly. Came back to fade and falter at the end of the last one at a little farther distance. The shorter go today should help this son of City Zip. Out of Stakes winning mare, who has two winners from four starters — and a SW. Never been closer than 41/2 lengths at the wire, though. Jonathan McD (3) has never raced on the all-weather surface, and that is a trick. And, he will get blinkers on for the first time ever — and the trainer does hit with .23% of those kind Love the last few rows at Keeneland getting ready for the first race since last December. Has faced some real good ones in Curlin’s Honor and Principe Guilherme. Big chance here, if ready. I bet the 3 (take note) across the board and then box the top 3 in the exacta. I key the top 3 over/under the 2-1-4-7, as well. Wide open.

6th: 1-3-2-7-4-8…Another competitive field with no real standout here, to me. I will lead with Quinn Murphy (1), who is changing barns and venues for the first time today. This one has previously been conditioned by Dallas Keen (don’t get me started), and has been running at Lone Star in Texas after departing California. Today, she will get the saddle from Mike Johnson, who has started only 20 horses this year. Has won with 2 of those so far. The rail is winning at a nice .20% clip here, and this one is coming off a win and a tough second, beaten a nose. Looks to be real good right now. Interesting. Dancing Waves (3) was claimed last time out for $10,000 and now bumps up to $25,000 for the new connections. Trainer is having a super meet here with limited runners (4 of 7) and this one has two seconds and a win in three of the last 4 tries. Made the lead in the lone miss but spit the bit in that one. Nice enough work on July 30. Trainer hits with .10% on first timers joining the barn after the claim purchase. Odachi (2) has hit the board in 21 of 34 lifetime tries. Unfortunately, 18 of those hav been in second and third. So, I wheel her underneath. Gets a top rider to make the saddle today. I bet the 1-3 across the board and then box the top 3 in one exacta. I key the top 3 over the rest in a smaller version.

7th: 1-4-9-6-3…I’ll be going right back to the rail for this one, too. On My Toes (1) is a More Than Ready filly who I think may be worth the claiming price tag of $12,500 in this spot. Trained by a guy who is winning .27% of his races here, in limited numbers, and will be ridden by the top jockey in the whole city-wide land. Was claimed last time out after running third in a race taken off the grass and moved to the all-weather. Trainer hits with .19% of those making the first start since the buy. Has not won this year in 6 starts is troubling, but has been running against much, much, much tougher. If it stays on the sod today, that will help this one for sure — bred top/bottom for grass. Like this one. Air Turbulence (4) is another who could be considered a claim prospect. Is by the nice sod influencing sire English Channel and out of a Lear Fan mare. Bred for the grass, for sure. Will be dropping to the lowest level ever today for a barn that knows how to win races. Trainer hits with .20% of his tries in the claiming ranks. Should benefit from the drop in class today, and gets a rider who has won .27% of the last 15 rides for the barn. Holy Cookie (9) is 6-1 ML odds, but rates a solid chance in this field. Should benefit from the return to the grass today and the trainer does hit with .19% of those he saddles for a claiming event. Like the work way back on June 1, when prepping off a long layup. That shows this one has talent. Took a race to find her running legs again, but two seconds in a row indicates that this one may now be ready. Beat our top choice in the last out. I bet the 1-9 across the board and then box the top 3 in the exacta. I key the top three over the 6-3 in one smaller version.

8th: 8-9-10-1-3-6…I will focus my attention on a key horse, and potentially a single for me — Speed Devil (the #8 in the 8th race, if you like that sort of thing). This one will be making her third start off a layup, and the trainer hits with .23% of those. She ran a huge one against State-bred Stakes company to finish the 2017 year, and may have needed the first two this year to get her legs back running again. Super sharp work here on Aug. 4 indicates that she may be ready to pop, and the trainer hits with .21% of those returning as a beaten favorite. She may prefer conventional dirt to the all-weather, but she may be good enough today that it doesn’t matter. Has a real excuse in the last one, stumbling badly at the start. Take note of that note. Shamelessfi (9) is 10-1 ML odds, but has a 3-3-2 record in a race where most have not won more than once. Like the experience, and like the way this one runs against State-bred in the past. Trainer hits with .25% of those running in a sprint event, and .18% over the all-weather. Rider has won one of two for this barn, and is red hot right now with 3 wins in last 10 mounts. Rake It Up (10) is 8-1 ML, and could jazz up the exotics, too. Claimed last time out by a barn that wins with .20% of those making the debut with the new connections. Was heavily favored in the last two, as well. Trainer hits with .21% of those returning after losing as the favorite. Solid record of 2-2-1 in only 7 starts. Prairie Chick (1) could make it another rail winner in this one, though. Comes out of a second place finish in the last try and has 6 career wins. Has hit the board in 15 of 28 lifetime tries, and gets a solid rider. Has only one win in the last 12 starts, though, and that’s why she shows up fourth in my scenario. I bet the 8 to win/place/show and then key the 8 over/under the 9-10-1. I key the 8 over the 3-6.

Pick 5 Bet: 1-8 / 8-5-3-2-1 / 1-3-2-7-4-8 / 1-4-9 / 8 = $90 play for $.50 ticket…Worth a shot, maybe. 

Ellis Park (What a card today):

2nd: 4-1-5-6-2-7-3…I focus on the top two numbers here, led by St. Augustine (4). This one will be making his second start for Phillip Sims after leaving the care of James Jerkens. In the initial start her on July 7, this son of Tapit nearly pulled off the win at odds of 10-1. Ran second, getting nipped by a good one late. Has returned to work well at Keeneland. Trainer 0-for-5 this year with second start for the trainer, but .22% with second start off a layup — in 50 tries. I love this one. Uber Kirk (1) will be making the second start for a barn that does well with this group, as well (.19%). Made a nice middle move in the inaugural start, and was moved up to third after a DQ. Love the work at Churchill Downs on Aug. 6. Could move way up today with a top rider in the irons. I bet the 4 to win/place/show and then box the 4-1 solidly in the exacta. I key those two over the rest in a much smaller version.

3rd: 5-8-4-1-3-2…I will use the top three numbers in this sequence, led by Bourbon Country (5). Has not run well in the last three tries after breaking the maiden at the Fair Grounds in March. Ran two really good ones down there before coming north. I can throw out the last experiment on the grass, but I will look for a return to form today. This will be the second time routing and the trainer does hit with .19% of those, and the rider wins with .33% of the last 15 starts for the barn. Drop in class is the big thing for me today. First time ever in the claiming ranks and the trainer hits with .15% of those. Flight Risk (8) goes for the red-hot barn of Brad Cox, who is dominating here like he does at most racetracks. Has a 16-8-2 record in 43 starts this meet. Figures out to .37% win clip. This one won the last time out, running by to an easy win by 3. Will face winners for the first time here, though. Trainer hits with .30% of those moving up and on. What about the bullet work at Churchill Downs on Aug. 3. Wow work. Teletap (4) is a well-bred son of Tapit and still owned by Winchell Thoroughbreds, the breeder. Should be a cliam today at this level, and did run a tiring third at this track; this distance; this level last time out. Super rider gets in the saddle. Could prove helpful today. I bet the 5-8 across the board and then box the top 3 in the exacta. 

4th: 7-3-2-4-8-6-1-9-5…I will focus in on the top 2 numbers here, led by World (7). This 2YO son of Orb is another from the barn of Steve Asmussen for the Winchells. Ran third here on July 4 at odds-on in the first career start. Has been training right here at the Pea Patch, and should improve off the first start for a barn that hits with .22% of those making the second career start and with .26% of those returning as a beaten favorite. New rider, too. Thundershook (3) is another returning for the second career start here having run third on debut. This one was a closing third on July 20, and goes for a trainer who hits with .19% of those making the second start. Was not as well bet on debut as the top choice, but comes from a Stakes-Placed mare who has 3 started to date, and one win. Top rider returns . I bet the 7-3 across the board and then box those two solidly in the exacta. I key the top 2 over the 2-4-8 in another. Lesser over the 6-1. Even less over the 9-5.

6th: 6-7-8-10-1-3-2…This is my first single and key play at Ellis today, and my first Best Bet of the Day. I go to Dark Web (the #6 in the 6th race, for those that like such things). This 2YO son of Warrior’s Reward nearly won on debut here July 20. And, that is saying — or writing — a lot, since the trainer hardly ever gears them up for a big run on debut. Still, this one bobbled at the start and still nearly won the race from the get-go at odds of 17-1. Has since returned to home base at Churchill Downs and worked very well for the second start. Top connections and the son-in-law rider is a real good one — who has won .26% of his mounts for this barn in the last 34 tries. Love the 4-1 odds, too. Chasing Happy (7) will be making his first start for a young, new trainer who is off to a solid start on his own. Has won with .22% of the first 32 saddle jobs to date. This one is working lights out at Churchill Downs, too. Lights out. Ninth Street (8) is one that hails from the Asmussen barn. Gets Corey Lanerie in the saddle today, and he has teamed up to win with .24% of the last 17 rides for these connections. Should love the move from the turf to dirt here, and gets back to the surface where he had a second and a third at Churchill Downs. Take heed. I bet the 6 to win/place/show and then key the 6 over/under the 7-8-10. I key the 6 over the 1-3-2.

7th: 10-7-4-1-6-8-3-5…I will focus my betting attention on the top 3 in this sequence. The post position is not the best here, and could be compromising enough to give the edge to others, but Alex’s Bourbon (10) has never missed the board in the first 5 career starts for a barn that is having another solid year. Ran second here in a 6-furlong effort last out, and now will stretch out to a flat mile. Should have enough speed to get a good stalking position early on, and the trainer does hit with .11% of those making the route run for the first time. Love the recent works. Very sharp. But she has shown those before. Auntie’s The One (7) tired at this same distance as the favorite last time out. But ran third to a good one in Summer Luck two back going farther. Returns today as a beaten favorite, and the trainer hits with .16% of those kind. Works since the last race, OK and the rider is top notch. Contender, who has 3 seconds and a third in 5 tries this year. Cacahuatita (4) is 8-1 in the ML, but could really spice up the exotics if she can run the same way she did in the last out — when she broke the maiden running away. Will stretch out for the first time and trainer hits with .11% of those routing for the initial time. Love the work at Keeneland on Aug. 5. I don’t like betting horses running against other winners for the first time, but this one warrants a big shot here. I bet the 10 (after all my daughter’s name is Alex, right?), and the 4 across the board. I box the top 3 numbers in the exacta. I key the top 3 over the 1-6-8.

8th: 8-7-9-12-3-1-4-10-2-5…Ellis Park Derby…What a nice addition to the card this year, and it has attracted a really nice field, as well. I will go with a solid “dot” (must use for me) on my top number — Limation (#8 in the 8th race for those that care about such things). This one has hit the board in 5 of 6 lifetime starts to date, and is coming off an impressive gate-to-wire win at a mile here in the last race on July 7. Trainer hits with .19% of those trying to win two in a row, and this one ran a huge third to Mr. Freeze two starts back at Churchill Downs. That one has returned to run very, very well recently. As in very well. Like the 8-1 odds on this one, too, which makes him my Upset Special. In the second slot for me is Kowboy Karma (7), one of two from the fashionable and formidable barn of J. Larry Jones. This one has not run since April 12, when second in a nice allowance event. In 7 career races, he has 2 wins and 3 seconds. Ran 2nd in a Stakes event at Laurel last November and second in the Sapling at Monmouth Park before that. Looked to be headed toward a nice 3YO year, but had all kinds of traffic issues in the G3 Lecomte Stakes and hasn’t been the same since. Training well for the return and the trainer does well with these kind (.18%). Believe in Royalty (9) is royally bred, being by Tapit and out of the KY Oaks winning mare Believe You Can. I have loved this colt for a very long time. But after showing some flashes of brilliance early on, he really struggled when moved up to face Stakes company. Looked to have rebounded a bit in the Iowa Derby in the last, when he ran a non-threatening fourth to High North and Mr. Freeze (there’s that name again). The encouraging sign, though, was that he showed that he could rate and close — for the first time ever. Shortens up to a mile today, but this one has the talent. Lots of talent. I bet the 8 to win/place/show and then box the top 3 in the exacta.

9th: 10-3-7-2-9-1-6-5-11…G3 Groupie Doll Stakes…What a nice field has been assembled for the track’s lone Graded Stakes event of the meet, and a race named after one of the best fillies to ever lift a leg at Ellis Park — or any other track for that matter. I go to the far outside, despite the compromising gate position, for Pinch Hit (10). This one is the 2-1 ML favorite and a bit more vunerable with the outside post, but she comes into this one off a nice win at Indy Grand and looks to be in top form right now after the work at Churchill Downs on Aug. 5. Has enough speed to go early and move over, and still have enough left to finish the deal. Goes for a barn that hits with .19% in Graded Stakes races. Wow. That’s .19% in Graded Stakes. Top pick. Champagne Problems (3) is 12-1 ML odds, and another Upset Special to watch for today. This one won the last time out and has a bit of Stakes experience in the past, including a neck loss to the top choice in the Dogwood Stakes at Churchill Downs last September. Very nice stalker from the barn of Ian Wilkes, who is hitting with .27% winners here this meet. Daughter of Ghostzapper and out of an A.P. Indy mare. Super well bred. Watch out here. Mines and Magic (7) is another 12-1 long shot that could light up the board in her a bit. Has raced against some real good ones in the past and has five races in Graded Stakes company showing on the PPs. What intrigues me, though, is the recent work pattern. Looks to be lighting it up in the a.m. May be ready for a score. I bet the 10 to win/place/show and then box the top 3 numbers in the exacta. I key the 10-3 over/under the 7-2-9. I key the 10-3 over (only) the 1-6-5-11.

10th: 1-9-5-4-10-2-6…I may end up keying Big Blue Magic (1) in today’s finale. This one definitely interests me from a claiming perspective, as well. If you have $30,000 in the horsemen’s account, you may want to take a look at this daughter of Tiznow, who is also out of a Stakes-winning mare. This one won here last time out over this grass course and at this same distance. Ran away at the wire to get that one done, but loses that condition and moves up in class for this one today. Has hit the board in 5 of 7, and love the work right before the last win. Good right now. Trivial (9) is another who won last time out and loses that condition, too. Moves up today in the ranks, but is at 8-1 ML odds. Can throw out the race over sloppy track two back, but will be making the first start since May 1. Trainer does hit with .14% of those returning from that type of layup. Works just OK at the Lex training center. Dam was a Stakes winner and she has thrown two turf winners. Another claim prospect for me. Nymue’s Treasure (5) won her first two starts ever one the all-weather track. Not fared as well over the grass, but the last two were against much, much tougher. Should appreciate the class drop here. Not without a shot. I bet the 1 to win/place/show and then key the 1 over/under all the other numbers listed.

Saratoga Race Course:

They are off the grass course today, and that dampens my interest in looking at The Spa. After all, we have a number of other choices for you above.

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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