McLean’s Select Selections for Saratoga, Arlington Park on Friday, Aug. 10

Day Results9-5-3-5
2018 Overall 1116418-411-499
Win % of Top Pick37.50%
Payoff % of Top 3 Picks Overall39.30%

What a nice day we had at Saratoga on Thursday. Out of the 9 races that we handicapped and reported on, we had 5 winners, 3 seconds and 5 thirds from our top selections. We also hit exactas worth $26.25, $21.90, $8, $3.30, $13.10, and $12.30 for $1 each.

In addition we had four winners in a row and hit the late Pick 3. Not a bad day. Will take it more often. Let’s just hope we can build some momentum going into a really nice racing weekend.

Here’s a look at some of the best races we chose for today:

Saratoga Race Course:

2nd: 5-4-6-8-1-9-10…We will focus on the top 3 numbers in this sequence, led by Love to Share (5). This 3YO filly by Shanghai Bobby (we love this sire, by the way), did not run a step last time out. Not a step. But that was at Monmouth Park when the rains washed the race off the grass and over to a sloppy dirt surface. Obviously, she did not prefer that switch. If you go back before that, though, she had four races in a row where she hit the board — including a nice win at Gulfstream Park in February when all the good horses were still down in South Florida. Was placed second due to a DQ in that one, so she does — truthfully — have a race where she did cross the finish line first. Great experience in this group. Rider today nearly won on this one back at Churchill Downs in June. My pick. Amazing Audrey (4) is the ML favorite by a lot, and comes from the barn of Todd Pletcher. Will get a lot of action in this spot, for sure. Races two and four back were nice. So, if the “every other race” theory plays out, this should be a good one again. Drops into the MCL ranks for the first time today, and the trainer hits with .36% of these kind. The one to beat. Secret Quality (6) was claimed last time out by the new connections, who hit with .17% of those making the first start after the purchase. Has run two solid seconds at this level and it wouldn’t take much to elevate her game into the winner’s circle today. The dam was unplaced, but has two turf winners from four starters to date. OK work on Aug. 6. Beware. I bet the 5-6 across the board in this one and then box the top 3 in the exacta. I key the top 3 over the rest in a very small exacta, as well.

3rd: 2-3-4-5-6-1…I will pinpoint the two top numbers n this grouping, led by Treble (2) — who could be considered a single, if you need to pair down your numbers in the horizontals. This 4YO filly is coming out of two straight Graded Stakes events, and the two back race was spectacular — when she nearly beat Miss Kentucky, a darn good one. This filly has hit the board in 9 of 12 career starts and looks the best in this group to me, if she can stretch out to the 6.5 furlongs distance. She may prefer the flat 6. Love the work back in KY on Aug. 4. That is super good over that training track. My pick. Luz Mimi (3) caught a muddy track last time out and that appear to compromise her efforts. Was way wide at the top of the stretch, as well. Gets a huge rider switch back to her long-time rider in this spot. Trainer is having a super year, winning at a .24% rate in 406 mounts. This one has run 4 times at the distance with 2 wins and a second. May not like this track so much, but prefers the distance. You Know Too (4) is 2-1 in the ML and gets the slight edge from the guys that do the hometown handicapping. She has run in 6 Stakes events (4 Graded) in the last 7 races. Ran well to be second down at Delaware Park in the last out. But, for the most part, not close against those types. Should appreciate the class drop in here, and the works have been very nice down South since the last race. Confidence? I bet the 2 to win/place/show and then box the top 3 in the exacta. I key the top 3 over the rest in a smaller version.

5th: 7-3-10-2-4-6-9-1-8…A wide open affair here, for me. I will try to focus on the top 3 numbers in this one, led by Two Shakes (7). This 2YO by Exchange Rate will be making the career debut for a trainer that hits with .25% on the first start and with .17% of those making the initial afternoon run on the sod. Out of a Dynaformer mare who was Stakes Paced, and she has already thrown two turf winners, from two starters and has 2 Stakes Winners. Wow. Works have been OK, but the one here on July 13 was very nice over the grass. If she can run like her siblings, then she has a special future ahead. Fierce Scarlett (3) is a first timer from the barn of Chad Brown, who is having his normal great meet here. He wins with .19% of those making the debut on the grass, and this one has some nice works scattered around on the resume. The jockey/trainer combo have hit for a 2-1-4 record in the last 8 starts together, and this one cost $320,000 at the OBS April Sale this year. Caught of Scat Daddy bred to rot early. The dam has 3 turf winners from 7 starters, that have combined for 6 wins. One Stakes winner in that group. (Brisnet Stat of the Day. Go to for all of your handicapping needs.). I can’t totally dismiss the far outside horse here in Pakhet (10). This one cost $130,000 at the OBS March Sale this year and is now trained by Todd Pletcher. Nice work here on Aug. 5 on the dirt. Time before looked exceptional on the turf course in the a.m. I bet the 7 to win/place/show and then box the top 3 in the exacta. I key the top 3 over the 2-4-6-9, as well. I key the top 3 over the 1-8 only slightly.

6th: 6-7-1-3-4-2…I will key in on the top two choices here. Ellis Milos (6) has raced two times so far, and has a win and a nice second to show for his efforts. Was right in the hunt when facing winners for the first time, and tired late. Jockey took care of this one late in that one, and he has come back to work OK for this try. If he can improve just a bit off that try, he will be tough to hold off in this spot. Likes to close late for a top rider. Candy Zip (7) is one from the barn of Larry Rivelli, who is running away with the trainer’s title over at Arlington Park. He has a few here at Saratoga, though, and has a winner in three starts here. This one started on July 27, in the 2018 debut. Hit the gate at the start and then was wide wide. Not a factor at all in that appearance. I can throw that one out completely, and will do so. The race at Belmont Park in October of last year was a really nice one and the horse he beat that day came right back to win. I like the works here since the race and I think he redeems himself in this spot. Altesino (1) ran well in the last race, but that was way back in April. He has 15 races in his resume, and only one win. But he has 2 seconds and 5 thirds. Underneath play for me, only. I bet the 6 to win/place/show and then box the top two numbers solidly. I key those 2 over the 1-3. I then key the top 2 over the 4-2 in a lesser amount.

7th: 1-6-7-3-2…Once again, I am zeroing in on the top two numbers here. Empressof the Nile (1) is the 8-5 ML favorite and gets the rail in this endurance test over the inner turf. Normally, I would avoid both of those conditions. But this one truly gets the edge in class. He was distanced in the last try, but that was in the G2 New York Stakes and against some of the best grass runners around. The runner-up and show horses that day are both running in a G1 at Arlington Park on Saturday. The race two back, though, in the Soaring Softly down at Gulfstream Park in April, was very solid. Much closer to the pace at the beginning and ran a bang up second. Has been away for awhile, but the trainer hits with .14% of those returning off this kind of layup. Love the work her on July 29. Looks ready with a top jock in the irons. That being written, it wouldn’t take much for me to jump ship and skip over to Bengala (6). This 4YO French bred has run three really good races since arriving in the U.S. and in the barn of Christophe Clement. Won the last time out and the dam of this one is a Stakes winner who has 3 turf winners. Made all the pace in the last one. Don’t know if that style will hold up in this one, but she is very dangerous. Lady Joan (7) is a NY-bred running against Open Company, but she has done that in the last three. Likes to be either on or close to the lead, as well. That may compromise both the 6 & 7. I bet the 1 to win/place and then key the 1 over/under all the numbers listed in the exactas.

9th: 2-3-1-5…Tale of the Cat Stakes…I am solidly behind a key in this one with Mr. Crow (2)  — who has been installed at 4-1 in the ML. Love those odds. Like to lock those in right now. This one has raced three times over this track with two wins. The only loss came in the last try in the G1 Alfred G. Vanderbilt Stakes on July 28 when he caught the likes of Imperial Hint, Warrior’s Club. The other two times he ran here, in 2017, he won by a combined 17+ lengths. I love the way this one stalks and pounces. My Upset Special (although not huge odds), and Best Bet of the Day. Silver Ride (3) will be getting his second start of 2018 today. He won the debut on June 22 at Belmont Park, closing from just off the pace to win by a nose. Has been away since, but had a nice work here on Aug. 7, and goes for a trainer who hits with .20% of those returning off a victory. Will move up in class for this one, but has a win in two tries over this track, as well. Like the way he’s trending. My Boy Tate (1) is the huge ML favorite at 6-5 odds. But this NY-bred will be stepping out of his comfort zone to try Open Company for the first time. That’s a huge step for most. Plus, this one really loves the mud. If it rains today? Maybe. If not, I like the other two. I bet the 2 to win/place/show and then key the 2 over/under all the other numbers listed. I also box the 2-3 solidly in another one.

10th: 10-7-6-2-11-1-4-3-8…The day’s finale is a NY-bred only event for 2YOs sprinting over the grass. Normally, I would probably stir clear of this kind, but this one is so wide open that I think it may offer some real betting values. So, I take a stab. Why not. We had a good day on Thursday. I will focus on the top 4 numbers here, led by the outside horse — Plebe (10). This one made a good run on June 30 and pressed the lead going 6 furlongs on debut. Tired late and ran third in that one. Has come back to work OK here, and the trainer does hit with .10% on the second try. Lost in Manhattan (7) should be a lower price on the tote board, considering the he comes from the barn of Steve Asmussen, and does have a race under the belt so far. Ran fourth — but was well beaten in that dirt try. Now, converts to the grass for the first time. Trainer hits with .14% of those making the transition. Love the work at Belmont on Aug. 4. Fitter? Wisecrack (6) may be one worth taking a longer look at, as well. This one is by The Factor, who is a son of War Front — one of the best grass influences in the pedigree today. Solid in the a.m., if not spectacular. And, trainer hits with .22% of those making the career debut — although 0-for-13 with first timers on the sod. Last, but not least in my equation is Southern Brigade (2). This one is 8-1 ML and I think has a chance to light up this tote board. The rail is an issue for me. Absolute death knell so far this meet. But if this one can get out of there early and get a nice position, then he could have a big chance at a price. I’m going to bet the 10-2 across the board and then box those 2 in the exacta. I am going to key the 10-2 over/under the 7-6 in two more. Then, as a saver only, I will key the top 4 over the 11-1-4-3-8 in a very slight exacta.

Arlington Park:

5th: 1-7-3-8-4-2-5…I will zone in on my top 2 picks in this group, led by Clear N Convincining (1). This 4YO son of Giant’s Causeway was my “Best Bet” the last time he ran here on July 20. It was his first start for Larry Rivelli since he departed the barn of Chad Brown and moved from New York to Chicago. Ran off to an impressive and easy victory here that day under a heady ride by the meet’s top jockey. Loses that condition and moves up the ranks today, but I still love the way this one is training and going right now. My pick. The one that may give the top pick the most trouble is Blue Sky Kowboy (7). This one has hit the board in 8 of 11 lifetime starts, and those 8 have been in a row. Nearly won for the 4th time last out and was robbed by just a head bob nearing the wire. Will be closing late for a trainer who is winning at a .21% clip here this meet. These two should provide some drama in this spot. I bet the 1 across the board and then box the top 2 solidly. I will take the top 2 over the rest in a saver exacta only.

6th: 12-10-7-9-8-11…Once again, I will focus on the top two numbers here. This is a 5-furlong sprint over the grass, and I will need a good, clean break by both of my top choices — led by Crazy Lady (12). This one tried the grass for the first time ever in the last race and she nearly won. The NY-bred closed well over a good track here to just lose by 1/2 length. Broke from the #5 post that day. More challenging today. Superdyne (10) will be making her career debut today for trainer Louie Roussel. He hits with .10% of those making the career debut on the sod. This one is from a Dynaformer mare, who does have 2 winners and a Stakes winner from 4 starters. No grass winners, which is strange, to date. Like the a.m. works, especially the one here on Aug. 7 as the blowout. Gets the meet’s top rider in the irons. Looks to have some early burn in those legs. I bet the 12-10 across the board and then box those two in the exacta. I key the top 2 over/under the #7. I then key the top 2 over the 9-8-11 in a smaller version.

8th: 7-8-6-1-5-2…Wide open affair, it appears, on paper. I go with Ghaaleb’s Winner (7) — who will be getting the saddle from a trainer who hits with .35% of those making the third start off a layup. Like the 9-2 ML odds, as well. The move here on July 27 suggests that this one can run a bit, and he has 2 wins and 3 thirds in just 7 career starts. Looks poised. G.C. Crackerjack (8) ran third against these types last out here on July 21. Goes for a solid barn operation, who hits with .20% of all starters on the all-weather track. Scarlet City (6) may offer some spice to the exotics in this spot with a 6-1 ML odds set. This one has struggled in the last two outs at Indy Grand, but the winner of the last one has already come back to win again. Like the work pattern and this one has been running against Open Company a lot. I bet the 7 to win/place/show and then box the top three numbers in the exacta. I key the top 3 over the other 3 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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