McLean’s “Select” Selections for KY Downs, Saratoga, & Del Mar on Saturday, Sept. 1

Day Results7-1-2-4
2018 Overall 1292476-474-574
Win % of Top Pick36.84%
Payoff % of Top 3 Picks Overall39.32%

Kentucky Downs Race Course:

1st: 3-7-4-6-8-5-11-12…This is a MSW event going 11/2 miles over the hills and dales of Kentucky Downs’ grass course. The main reason I even looked and handicapped this event is that I love Campaign (3) in this spot. This son of Curlin cost $675,000 as a Keeneland September Yearling in 2016, and was originally sent to Chad Brown to train. Now, he is in the barn of Steve Asmussen, who has done wonders for the Woodford Racing LLC group. This one didn’t run well in debut for the new conditioner, but had all kinds of issues and troubles in that one, and I think was a total throw-out. Now, gets one of the best riders to travel this circuit and goes from dirt to turn, which has to be good for a colt out of a Dynaformer mare. Trainer hits with .14% of those kind. Love the work on Aug. 5. And, love the 5-1 ML odds. My pick. I bet the 3 to win/place/show and then box the top 3 numbers in the exacta. I key the 3 over/under the 7-4-6-8-5 in two more.

7th: 11-12-10-9-7-3-4-2-1…One Dreamer Stakes…I will focus my betting attention and strategy on the top 3 numbers in this sequence, led by On Leave (11). This one is trained by HOF Shug McGaughey and comes into this one off some solid runs against top notch competition. Lost by less than 3 lengths to Uni in the last out and less than 2 lengths in the G1 Just a Game before that. Has not won this year, but has a second and a third in 4 starts. Looks the best on paper here, and should be a handful going up the hill late. Last Promise Kept (12) has a win over this course, and really looked good last year when breaking the maiden here and then immediately returning to win at Keeneland in the next out. Fell apart a little in the Stakes event in the next out, but looks to have returned to form. Don’t know what happened in the last race at Saratoga, when she lost to another McGaughey horse in Danceland, but I think this one has a world of talent and potential for the Tom Proctor barn. Look for a nice closing kick out of this one at some good odds. English Affair (10) is another who could add some value to the mix, installed at 12-1 ML. Ran a solid second in the KY Prevue last time out at Ellis Park. Lost by less than a length in that one. Gets Chris Landeros in the saddle for this one and he has teamed up to rider this one four times in the last 9 races and they have combined for a 1-2-1 in those four tries. I use. I bet the 11-12 across the board and then box the top three numbers in the exacta. I key the 11-12 over/under the 10-9-7-3 in two more. 

8th: 4-1-7-2-8-3…Tourist Mile…I will key my action off the top 2 numbers in this major event, led by Mr. Cub (4). This 4YO gelded son of Artie Schiller has a win in two tries over this course, and has been really good for most of this year with 2 wins and a third in 5 tries. Feel apart after the fast fractions in the Lure Stakes at Saratoga on Aug. 11, but that was over a more yielding surface. If he can find some more firm footing today, then he should be a tough out. He is 3-for-3 at this distance, after all. The horse to beat, though, is definitely Mr. Misunderstood (1), who hails from the barn of Brad Cox. This guy has never run at KY Downs before — and that can be an experience — but he has raced 6 times at this distance and has returned to the winner’s circle in five of them. Comes out of two straight wins — including a nice win over Inspector Lynlee in the G2 Wise Dan at Churchill Downs. Looks to have righted the ship in good order and the barn is hitting with .29% of 589 runners this year. I will be the 4-1 across the board and then box those two in the exacta. I will key the 4-1 over the 7-2-8-3 in another.

9th: 7-11-3-4-2-1-6…Kentucky Downs Juvenile…What a nice race with a nice grouping of 2YOs aligned . I will focus on the top two numbers here, led by Wesley Ward’s Broken Vow filly Dragic (7). This filly could have gone in the other division against her own kind, but Ward must have thought enough of her and the filly in the next Stakes event to split them up and go for two wins. This filly is out of a Stakes-winning mare who has 6 winners from 8 starters. But, interestingly enough, no turf winners to date. This will be this filly’s first try on the sod, and she will be stretching out from 6 furlongs, as well. But she ran a game fourth to the top filly Bellafina — who will be taking on some of the best fillies in the world this afternoon in the Del Mar Futurity in the last out. Earlier this year, this filly broke her maiden at first ask at Keeneland. I think we can get some odds with this one, too. Tough ask, but Ward is pretty good at this 2YO game, and wins with .21% of those trying the grass for the first time. The upsetter here, though, could be Brad Cox’s entry — Pole Setter (11). This one is made 6-1 ML odds, and is coming off a nice win as the favorite in the first and only start to date. Son of Take Charge Indy is out of a Stakes-winning mare who has 5 winners form 6 starters. Like the works since the win, and has already covered this 1 mile distance successfully. My Upset Play of the Day. I bet the 7-11 across the board and then box those two solidly in one exacta. I will key the 7-11 over/under the 3-4-2 and then key the 7-11 over (only) the 1-6.

10th: 7-3-5-8-9-12-10…Exacta Systems Juvenile Fillies Stakes…I will focus on the top 3 numbers in this grouping, led by Miss Technicality (7). This daughter of Gio Ponti travels South for the barn of Christophe Clement after a nice MSW win at Belmont Park on July 6. She closed from off the pace to storm home the winner in that one, and the show horse has already come back to win. Trainer hits with .17% of those off for this type of layup, and she has been training OK over the grass at Saratoga. Two Shakes (3) is the Ward horse that will stick to facing fillies, and she is coming off a pace-setting win at Saratoga on Aug. 10. Will have to stretch out from that 51/2-furlong distance, but she is well bred to do just that by being by Exchange Rate and out of the Dynaformer mare. Love that breeding cross, and the mare has produced 3 turf winners already from 3 starters — including 2 Stakes winners. My Jilly (5) could add some real value to the exotic mix here, what with her 15-1 ML odds. Comes in off a nice win at Arlington Park in the last out, and that was at this same 1 mile distance and her first try over the sod. Trainer knows his way to a winner’s circle, and this one is training nicely for the next out. I bet the 7-5 across the board and then box the top 3 numbers in the exacta. I key the top 3 over/under the #8 in two more.

Saratoga Race Course:

1st: 3-6-5-7-4…This MSW event for 2YOs kicks off a great day of racing at The Spa. Like some of the other races today, the reason I got locked into this event is that I love a horse making the career debut, and the fact that he looks like he may be offered up at a nice odds-price today. Lion Dance (3) has been installed at 6-1 in the ML, and I think worth a nice look in this 7-furlong debut run. He is by Bernardini, and a homebred for Stronach Stables. He is training lights out for a top end trainer — who is having a nice meet with .23% winners from the first 22 starters. Dam was a SW, and this one must be acting the part. I bet the 3 to win/place/show and then key the 3 over/under the rest of the numbers in the exacta.

3rd: 4-3-1-9-8-7-6…This is another MSW event, but this one is for older colts. The heavy ML favorite is Business Cycle (4), a 5YO gelded son of Curlin. This one didn’t make his debut run until last Fall, and was off again until he ran back in early August for the barn of Chad Brown. Each time he has run to date, though, he has been second while pushing the pace. Now, he will get his second time out for a barn that hits with .24% off the layup and .30% with beaten favorites. I don’t think these connections would have preserved with this one for this long if he had not shown some ability at the farm and in the morning. Should be fitter and stronger and maybe unbeatable in this spot. Illudere (3) is another for James Jerkens that I like today. This 3YO son of Ghostzapper has run two fourths to date, and was behind the top choice in the last race. Was wide in the last try, but shortens back up a tad for today. Gets the blinkers for the first time and the barn hits with .10% of those getting the equipment addition. Maybe. I bet the 4 to win/place and then key the 4 over/under the 3 solidly. I think key the 4-3 over the rest of the numbers in a smaller version.

5th: 8-7-5-4-1-2…A nice allowance field has been assembled for this route run over the Saratoga dirt. I like  a nice longshot in this spot — San Elijo (8), who is 15-1 in the ML. This one is trained by Michael Stidham, who has a win and a third in just three starts this meet. He only ships to this spot with horses that he thinks fits and have a shot. Too many other options for this barn to travel to and go. And, I think this one both fits and has a shot. Training super down at Monmouth Park, and ran a game third last time out in a nice allowance event at Parx in his first try since February. Had a really nice run against Zing Zang in the career debut second, and came back to beat a good one in the MSW event in New Orleans. In 4 starts to date, he has a 1-1-1 record. My Upset Special at Saratoga today. Plainsman (7) will go for the barn of Brad Cox, who is scoring at a .23% rate in 26 starts at The Spa this summer. He will saddle this one for the first time ever today, and he wins with .22% of those making the debut for the barn. This one ran 6th in the Arkansas Derby earlier this year, and has come back to pop two seconds in a row after a layup following that G1 try. Training very well for the new barn. Watch out. I bet the 8-7 across the board and then box those two solidly in one exacta. I key the 8-7 over the other numbers in a smaller version.

6th: 2-3-9…This is a MSW event over the grass at 11/16-miles, and I really like a nice priced horse in Noble Spirit (2). This one ran third on debut here earlier this meet, but was beaten less than 2 lengths while pushing the pace early on. Was wide throughout that inaugural event, and really finished well and had a nice gallop-out after the race for a trainer who has won with .16% this meet. But, here’s the thing. The trainer has been snake bitten a bit, and in addition to the 5 wins in 32 starts, he has 8 thirds. I think this one could improve enough today to be a real challenge at a nice price. I bet the 2 to win/place/show and then key the 2 over/under the “all button.” Looking for a hit. I also box the 2-3 in another.

9th: 1-9-3-2-6-8-7…G3 Saranac Stakes…This will begin a string of Stakes events on the final Saturday of the 2018 meeting, and it is a good one. I will go to the rail for my top pick in Up the Ante (1), a 3YO Smart Strike colt who is coming off an impressive win in the Manila Sakes at Belmont Park on the 4th of July. Been idle since then, but the trainer hits with .17% of those returning from this type of layup, and he is training very well for this event. The stretch out in distance is a bit of a concern, since this one loves to be on the lead. But if the HOF rider can slow the pace a bit, he could be tough to catch late. Maraud (9) is definitely the one to beat. This 3YO son of Blame has 3 wins and a second in 7 starts this year, and is coming off a tough-beat second in the G2 Hall of Fame Stakes here on Aug. 3. That was contested over a yielding track, but he handles those surfaces OK. Should be fine with this distance today, although he has never run this particular map. Will be closing late. Raging Bull (3) should be salty, too. This one edged Maraud in the Hall of Fame, after running behind the top pick in the Manila. In four career starts, he has three wins and a second for trainer Chad Brown — who looks to wrap up the Trainer’s title this weekend. Will go farther today than ever before, but this deep closer should relish the added ground. I bet the 9 (take note) to win/place/show and then box the top 3 numbers in the exacta. I will key the 1-9-3 over/under the 2-6 in a smaller version.

10th: 7-11-4-3-12-5-10…G1 Spinaway Stakes…Chasing Yesterday (7) — the grand looking half-sister to Triple Crown winner and the only Grand Slam winner in history American Pharaoh. She ships in from Del Mar for trainer Bob Baffert — who was here just a week ago to win two G1s with the only two horses he had to make the trip. Now, this filly — who is by Tapit — will bring her regular rider in Mike Smith with her, too. She won by nearly 5 lengths on debut and looks to have a cruising speed that is sure to excite. Looks like the top pick in this spot. Restless Rider (11) has been away from the races since winning the Debutante Stakes at Churchill Downs on June 30. But this daughter of Distorted Humor was amazing in winning that event by 11 lengths. She stormed wide around the turn that day and fired all the way though the lane in impressive fashion. Love the odds, and I think she may have a shot today. I bet the 7 to win only and then the 11 across the board. I box those two solidly in the exacta, and then I key both the 7-11 over the rest in a smaller version.

11th: 9-11-1-6-12-10-8-12-13-5-3-4…G1 Woodward Stakes…I will focus my betting attention on the top 3 numbers in this group, led by Gunnevera (9). This 4YO son of Dialed In is coming here off an impressive, easy win at Gulfstream Park. That was his first run since Dubai and only the third race this year. Impressive and looks to have set him up perfectly for this try today, much the same way that he was prepped for his second in the Travers Stakes here a year ago. I really like this one today. Leofric (11) is 20-1 in the ML and may offer some real value for this one. Comes in with a 6-1-2 record in just 11 starts for the career and has three wins in four tries this year. Gets a new rider today, but this one could surprise at a huge price. Yoshida (1) will be making his dirt debut today for trainer Bill Mott, who hits with .11% o those that covert to this surface. Mott scored here a year ago with Good Samaritan moving to the dirt, and this could be another one. Has had a great career to date on the sod, and if he can moved his late run over to the dirt, he should be a factor late. Love the rider switch, too. I bet the 9-1 across the board and then box the top 3 numbers in the exacta. I key the top 3 over/under the 6-12-10, and then key the top 3 over the rest in a much smaller version.

12th: 5-6-8-4-2-3-1…G2 Glen Falls Stakes…I will key most, if not all, my action on Santa Monica (5) — the ML favorite — in this spot today. Has two wins and a third in three tries this year after moving over from across the pond. Trainer loves these types and does extremely well with them, too. No reason to doubt that he will have some fun rolling form the back again today in his first try over the Saratoga sod. I bet the 5 to win/place and then key the 5 over/under the other numbers listed. More over the 6-8-4 than the others.

Del Mar Race Course:

4th: 4-5-2…G1 Del Mar Debutante…Short field, but long on talent. Jockey Drayden Van Dyke is not sticking with the Team Baffert today, but I am. I go with Mother Mother (4) on top of this talented group. She is coming off an impressive win that neared 7 lengths at the wire. Daughter of Pioneerof the Nile should relish the addd distance, too. And, training super. Never doubt the magic of Baffert. Belgian (5) is a daughter of Quality Road, who should like the added distance today, too. She led from gate to wire to capture the G2 Sorrento Stakes here in the last out and may be tough to catch, now that she is wearing the blinkers. Brill (2) cost $1 million to buy, and some are saying that is a bargain price. She won on debut too, despite an awkward start. On the rage these days on the West Coast. I bet the 4 to win/place and then key the 4 over the 5-2.

5th: 8…A MSW event for 2YOs, and I stop long enough to just say I love Much Better (8) in this spot. Making the debut for the Baffert barn today, but this son of Pioneerof the Nile has been training lights out. Don’t miss this one.

9th: 8-7-2-1-5…A MSW event going 61/2 furlongs over the dirt. I go with another Baffert horse here — Magic on Tap (8). This is a Tapit colt making the debut start for a trainer that scores with .27% of these. Love the work here on Aug. 11. Extra Hope (7) has a fast-closing second on the resume, and has to be considered. Admiral Brown (2) is Baffert’s other horse in here, and may be the real value. Works are outstanding and gets Joe Talamo in the irons. He has hit with .36% for this barn of late. I bet  the 8-2 across the board and then box the top 3.

10th: 7-11-2-9-8-5…G2 John C. Maybee Stakes…A great event held over 11/8 miles and the grass course. Cambodia (7) goes for the barn of Tom Proctor, and she loves this track. In five starts, she has 3 wins and a third. Ran beautifully here to win the G2 Yellow Ribbon earlier this meet. Galloped out strong and looks to be in prime form for this one. Gets Van Dyke back. Madame Stripes (11) was second in that one, and has a 1-1-1 record over this course, as well. She nearly won the G1 Gamely Stakes back in May at Santa Anita. Can push the pace. I bet the 7-11 across the board and then box those two solidly in this spot. I key the 7-11 over the 2-9-8-5 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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