McLean’s “Select” Selections for Saratoga, Del Mar, Ellis Park & Arlington Park on Labor Day

Day Results9-5-4-5
2018 Overall 1318487-485-586
Win % of Top Pick36.95%
Payoff % of Top 3 Picks Overall39.40%

We had a really good Sunday, cashing 5 winners from the 9 races that we ended up handicapping and touting. We had winners return $10.10, $18.30, $16.80, $27.00, and $8.

The exacta payoffs were a little disappointing, as we hit on six of those Sunday, as well. The top payoff was $13.20 and $13.10 for each $1 wagered. Not bad. But nothing to get excited about.

Today — Labor Day — is something to get excited about, though. A day of rest for the weary of heart, soul, mind and hands — who have carved out this great nation from the soil so rich and the precious metals so precious.

We pause to give credit not to those that think they think. But we give thanks to those that gave us work to put bread on the table; food in our mouths; spirit in our guts; and an ethic that we must earn what we sow. We honor today, the working man, as Merle Haggard would recall throughout his music career.

My mom and dad were working people. All of their lives, and they instilled those values and virtues in both my sister and I at a very early age. It was a lesson learned. By watching and observing. By witnessing and appreciating. By blood, sweat, tears, blisters and angst.

But it was learned. And, to this very day, I would not have it any other way. It is our way. And, today, we give thanks to those who came before us and made America great the first time, and never gave up making it better each day they woke up and worked their way through life.

It was not a slogan contrived by someone who doesn’t understand the true meaning. It was a way of life. It was our way of life.

Today, let’s hope that our “work” can unearth a few winners today. Here we go:

Saratoga Race Course:

3rd: 2-7-1-5-3…This is a 6-furlong sprint MSW for 2YOs, and guess what? Chad Brown — who has already set a record for most wins by a trainer at a Saratoga meet — may just add to his lofty total right here. Complexity (2) is a Maclean’s Music colt, who will be making his career debut for a barn that hits with .19% on the first out. The rail is winning at a .20% rate this meet, as well. And, the sire of this one scores at an .18% clip. The dam of this one as 3 winners from 3 starters, and already has a Stakes winner to boot. Love the works, especially the last two. Looks like this one — who cost $375,000 as a 2017 Keeneland September Yearling — is ready to rock. King for a Day (7) will get the saddle for the first time in the afternoon today, and the trainer is scoring with .22% of debut runners this year in 612 starts. Barn is not having the best of meets, but it could end on a strong note here, with this homebred son of Uncle Mo. Works are getting better, and the dam has 6 winners from 7 starters and 2 Stakes winners so far. Can’t dismiss. Southern Phantom (1) has run twice already and ran well before tiring in the last one here on Aug. 11. Shortens up a furlong today, and the most recent work was a bullet. Winner of the last race has already come back to win, and the winner of the debut run is the favorite in the G1 Hopeful later on the card. So…I use. I bet the 2-1 across the board and then box the top 3 in one exacta.

6th: 8-7-1-2-6-3-4-9-10…I will focus on the top two numbers in this group, led by another Chad Brown horse — Seek and Destroy (8). This son of Verrazano cost $425,000 as a 2017 Keeneland September Yearling and he nearly pulled off the win on debut here Aug. 5. Ran 7-furlongs on the dirt track when rains washed that one off the turf. Led late before tiring and finishing third. Recent works indicate that he came out of that one in good order, and he should benefit form the exercise. Trainer hits with .24% of those making the first grass start, and with .30% of those routing for the first time. Dam has 4 winners from 6 starters and 1 turf winer. Looks tough here. Toy Moon (7) goes for a trainer who has suffered through a long, tough meet — winning only 2 of 59 starts. He has 11 seconds and 11 more thirds, but those narrow defeated lead to a cool meet. Ran well on the grass here two back and then put up another second last time out when washed off the sod. Trainer does hit with .22% of those making the second route race. Seventh Planet (1) made add some spice to the exotics, at 6-1 ML odds. Ran a nice fourth at huge odds last time out to a nice kind of winner. If she can gain some wind from that effort, she may be tougher in this spot today. Trainer hits with .20% in second career race. I bet the 8 to win/place/show and then key the 8 over/under the 7-1-2-6. I key the 8 over (only) the rest of the numbers listed.

9th: 1-4-5-2-3-6…G2 Benard Baruch Handicap…What a nice field has been assembled for this 11/16-mile event over the grass. I go to Voodoo Song (1), and why not? This 4YO English Channel colt is a perfect 5-for-5 over this grass course in his life, and he has won two in a row on the front end. He looks to be the only speed in this condensed field, and should have things his way from the get go if the rider can manage to keep at a modest pace. The stretch out in distance may be an issue with the quality of this field, but this one has 2 wins in 3 starts at the distance. NY-bred is super talented. Synchrony (4) has had a great year, winning 4 of 6 starts, with two thirds to boot. Comes into this one off back-to-back wins, and will get a red hot rider in the saddle today, as well. This son of Tapit is a perfect 2-for-2 at the distance. And, I once owned a half-sister to this one. Rooting. Inspector Lynley (5) won here on Aug. 11 in the Lure Stakes. Came running at the end of that one with a flurry. This one is undefeated over this course, too, with 2 wins in 2 tries. Has hit the board in four in a  row, but I can’t find back-to-back wins in his PPs. Interesting. I bet the 1-4 across the board and then box those two solidly in the exacta. I key the 1-4 over/under the 5-2, and then key the 1-4 over the 3-6.

10th: 1-3-5-7-8…G1 Hopeful Stakes…While I could easily single Voodoo Song in the previous race, I will definitely single the #1 in this spot, and take Sombeyay (1) at a nice 5-1 ML price. This one has two wins and a tough-beat second in three career starts, but I love the way he finished along the rail to capture the G3 Sanford Stakes here on July 21. Gutted that one out late to beat a real nice one in Strike Silver. Looks like this son of Into Mischief will / should have no problem with the extra furlong in distance today, and may actually relish it. Should be able to carve out a nice stalking position from the rail, and kick home late. My pick. Nitrous (3) is the hot horse in many people’s Future Bet for the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile. He lost to Strike Silver in his debut run with he got off to a slow start. But he came right back to break the maiden at Saratoga in impressive fashion, going 5.5 furlongs. This son of Tapit has “the look” of a good one for Winchell Thoroughbreds and Stonestreet Stables. Works solid since the win, too. He will likely push for the lead early. Dream Maker (5) may be he one to spoil the party, though. This son of Tapit broke horribly on debut, but came running with an absolute furious rally to win going away and by 3 lengths in a 5.5 furlong MSW event at Churchill Downs in June. Works since then have been tremendous. Third place runner in that debut effort has already come back to win. Can’t dismiss this one friends. I bet the 1-5 across the board and then box the top 3 numbers in one exacta. I key the 1 over the 3-5-7-8 in another.

Del Mar Race Course:

4th: 6-5-9-4-7-2-10-3-1…Del Mar Juvenile Fillies Turf Stakes…What a nice field assembled for this 1-mile event for 2YOs on the grass. I will concentrate on the top 3 numbers in this group, led by Summering (6). This well-bred War Front filly is a homebred for Glen Hill Farm and trained by my good friend Tom Proctor. At first asking, she romped to an impressive 5-length victory as the 2-1 PT favorite. Never was in doubt from the get-go, and that’s not easy to do on debut and going a mile. Trainer hits with .28% of those coming off the maiden win and with .19% of those making the second grass start. Sire power is there, but the dam was a Stakes winner, too. Adds up. Hyde Park Corner (5) should not be dismissed easily, though. This one is still a maiden, but has run two dynamite seconds in a row, including one in Ireland and one at Del Mar. Looked like a winner last time out before getting caught late. Trainer hits with .17% of those getting Lasix for the second time. Love the 8-1 ML odds, and the HOF rider even more. May add value to the play. Angel Alessandra (9) is a Ghostzapper filly who won the last time out, when stretching out and getting the sod for the first time. Peter Miller is having an outstanding meet here, with .29% winners from 108 starters. This one looks like she can wheel right back. The dam is a Stakes winner, with two turf winners from four starters to date. I bet the 6-9 across the board and then box the top 3 numbers in the exacta. I key the top 3 over the 4-7-2-10 in a smaller version.

5th: 4-1-8-2-6…C.E.R.F. Stakes…A 6-furlong event contested over the dirt track, and it is hard to separate the top numbers in this one. But I will key on the 7-5 ML favorite Miss Sunset (4). This 4YO Into Mischief filly has hit the board in 14 of 17 lifetime starts, but more impressively is a perfect 4-for-4 over this track. Loves the distance, too, with 3 wins and a second in 4 starts. Comes into this one off a second in a G3 event at Santa Anita. Well beaten in that one, but the winner wheeled right back to win again, and this one has gotten a break. Will start for the first time since May today, and the trainer hits with .15% coming off this type of layup. Cal-bred has won fresh before. Phantom Proton (1) may offer some value and some excitement in this one, too. Trained by Neil Drysdale, this daughter of Ghostzapper has not been able to step it up in the Stakes race game, as of yet, but if you go back before the last two — she was very game. Has hit the board in 6 of the last 7 tries, with a couple of wins in that mix. Classy Tune (8) ran 4th in the Desert Stormer and behind our top pick last time out. She has gotten a break, too, and the trainer hits with .14% of those returning from this can of vacation. This one likes the beachside track here, as well. Has 2 wins and 2 thirds in four tries here. I bet the 4 to win/place/show and then key the 4 over/under the rest of the numbers in the exacta.

7th: 7-8-1-6-9-5-4-10…I will focus on the top two numbers in this group, led by Flagstaff (7). This 4YO gelded son of Speightstown has never been worse than third in any of his first three starts — and that came in the last race when beaten less than a length for all of it. Goes for a trainer having a super meet here (.25% winners from 60 starters), and gets the hottest rider in the country back in the saddle. This one returns as a beaten favorite, and the trainer hits with .17% of those. Love the work here on Aug. 22. Looks ready. Show Me Da Lute (8) is a pupil of Bob Baffert, and his horses are winning at a .31% rate here this meet. He ran second by a half length last time out, tiring right at the wire. In six career starts to date, he has a 1-1-1 record. but he has a second and a third in three tries at Del Mar. I bet the 7 to win/place/show and then box the 7-8 solidly in one exacta. I key the 7 over the 1-6-9 in another smaller version.

8th: 5-10-3-1-4-7-6-(12): This is a MSW event contested at a mile over the grass, and I will key on Colonial Creed (5). This one ran second on debut here on July 29, but she was bet heavily then which is a good indication that the connections like what they have in the barn. This daughter of Jimmy Creed is out of a Scat Daddy mare — who already has a turf winner. And, the trainer hits with .14% of those making the second grass race. Should benefit from the first out, and I really like the work over the sod here on Aug. 16. My pick. Rayana (10) is a Scat Daddy filly who will be making the career debut for Team Baffert today. Works are just OK, and the win rate for a first time starter on the grass falls to half of what Baffert’s debut win rate is overall. This one is likely to be over-bet considering the trainer and the rider. Beware. Thanks (3) ran third to Tragic in the career debut at Keeneland back in April. That one just came back this long weekend to run well. This daughter of Haynesfield will be making her first start since that Spring race and first appearance for the new trainer. Will get Lasix for the first time, and move to the grass for the first time. Lots of firsts, but all could make a huge difference today. Dam has two winners from 5 starters and one turf winner to date. Like the 6-1 ML odds. I bet the 5 to win/place/show and then key the 5 over/under the 10-3-1-4. I will key the 5 over the 7-6, as well.

9th: 3-7-6-2-1-5-4…G1 Del Mar Futurity…This was slated to be the showdown between Instagrand and Roadster — two of the most touted 2YOs in the world right now and two of the early favorites for the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile and the 2019 KY Derby. Supposed to be. Instead, the owner of Instagrand decided to stay in the barn and wait for another day. That leaves Roadster (3) — the much ballyhooed son of Quality Road and the latest great thing for Team Baffert. He has raced only once to date, running off to an impressive 41/4-length victory when running 6 furlongs here on July 28. He will stretch it out to 7 furlongs today, but that does not appear to be an issue. He is 6-5 ML favorite, but likely to go well below those odds by game time. The horse that could liven it up a bit is another from the Baffert barn — Game Winner (7). This son of Candy Ride should relish the longer distances, but he was so impressive in winning by nearly 6 on debut here on Aug. 18. Went 6 furlongs that day. Blinkers come off today, and the trainer hits with .36% of those losing the equipment. This one is 4-1 ML and likely to drift up the odds board. Gets Mario Gutierrez in the saddle today, and I can’t remember when was the last time he rode for this barn. Interesting. I bet the 3-7 across the board and then box those two solidly in the exacta. I key the 3-7 over (only) the 6-2-1-5-4.

Arlington Park (numbers & condensed remarks): 

1st: 2-4-3-5-1-7…I will focus on top 3 numbers, led by Tap Gun (2). This is a Tapit filly trained by a super conditioner in Tom Amoss. He has 3 wins in just 6 starters here this meet, with another third. Will be interesting to see if she takes to the all-weather track today. Gets blinkers for the first time, and the trainer hits with .21% of those. I bet the 2 to win/place/show and then box the top 3 in the exacta.

5th: 2-6-5-1-4…I will use the top 3 numbers in this sequence, as well, and will go back to the deuce — Oh So Terrible (2). This 4YO daughter of Cape Blanco will try to give trainer Bradley Ross his first win of the meet. So far, he has saddled five horses this meet — and this year — with no trips to the circle. But this one will be dropping out of the G1 Beverly D Stakes here to face this group. she has a 2-2-2 record in 15 starts, but hasn’t come close in the four Graded Stakes races so far. Take those out of the mix, and she has hit the board in 6 of 11. Not so bad. Horse to beat is Frozen Hannah (6). Trainer hits with .36% of those running for the third time off a layup. I bet the 6 (take note) across the board and then box the top 3 numbers in the exacta. 

8th: 4-9-11-12-2-5-6-8-3-1…I will key on Let’s Go Mick (4) in this nice grass feature on the card. Won last time out over this grass course and is now a perfect 2-for-2 on this sod. Trainer hits with .22% of those racing on grass, and this one has returned to train quite nicely, as well. Trainer is having a super meet with .26% winers from 58 starters here, to date. My solid pick. I bet the 4 to win/place/show and then key over/under the 9-11-12. I key 4 over (only) the 2-5-6-8 in a smaller version.

Ellis Park (numbers only):

1st: 7…I key this hose and bet over 4-3-2-1.

3rd: 5-1-6-1A-3…

4th: 6-7-5-1-4-3-2

8th: 8-4-2-1-6-7…8 is a key for me. I bet to w-p-s and then bet over/under the others.

9th: 1-6-4-5-2-3-7-8…1 is a nice key for me. I bet to w-p-s and then bet over/under the 6-4-5-2.

10th: 8-4-2-9-3-7-6-1…Another key for me…I bet the 8 to w-p-s and then key over/under the 4-2-9-3…

11th: 6-9-1-5-4…I focus on top two numbers and bet both across the board and box solidly 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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