McLean’s “Select” Selections for Saratoga, Del Mar on Thursday, Aug. 23

Day Results12-4-6-5
2018 Overall 1227452-452-548
Win % of Top Pick37.00%
Payoff % of Top 3 Picks Overall39.50%

We had four winners out the 12 selections that we picked yesterday at both Saratoga and Del Mar, but it could have been so much better. Our top pick ran second three more times. Frustrating. But, all in all, not a bad day at all. Our top pick was in the money on 9 of 12 races, and we had a very solid afternoon at Del Mar, where we hit the winner 3 of 5 races. Our “Best Bet of the Day” didn’t pay much, but Dabster was outstanding. He is now a perfect 3-for-3 at a mile distance. May watch him this summer and fall at that same length of race.

Here’s a look at today’s “select” selections from Saratoga, Del Mar, and, possibly, a race or two at Arlington Park:

Saratoga Race Course:

2nd: 2-1-3-4-5…I will concentrate on the top 3 numbers in this grouping, led by Tigalalu (2). I pick this one in a bit of an upset, what with the 9-2 ML odds. The daughter of Curlin should like the extra ground, and she got some experience at the distance last time out. Tired in that one, but it was in the slop. If she can find some dry dirt today, she may find the form that enabled her to run off to an easy win in her career debut by nearly 8 lengths. Miss Mimosa (1) is certainly the horse to beat, and is 7-5 ML odds. May even go lower than that by PT. She had some issues in the last race after appearing to be in a winning spot. According to the “comment section” of the PP, she “shied at the 3/16.” Don’t know what happened then, but if she can return to the race two back and/or the career debut, she will be tough. Stretches out to this distance for the first time, but the trainer hits with .17% of those going from a sprint to a route, and with .19% of those returning as a beaten favorite. War Value (3) is coming off a near 10-length victory when switched to the dirt. Caught a sloppy track on Aug. 3, though, and beat only 4 other rivals. Moves up to face winners for the first time in here, but the trainer scores with .26% of those making that jump in class for the first time. Can’t fully dismiss. I bet the 2 to win/place/show and then key the 2 over/under the rest of the numbers listed.

3rd: 3-6-1-7…Cadillac Frankie (3) is an 8-5 favorite and has never raced a single race to date. Someone must know something, right? The 2YO Florida-bred is training well for a trainer who hits with .16% of those making the debut, and this one gets a top rider here. The dam has 4 winners from 6 starters and 1 Stakes winner already. But…There’s always a but, right? Not That Brady (6) is another first timer and this one comes from the barn of George Weaver. He normally does very well at this meet, but has only 2 winners in 22 starters so far this year. He does have 1 second and 8 thirds, though. this one had a really nice work here on Aug. 13, and the trainer does hit with .12% of those making the career debut. A NY-bred against open company? Handsome Chewy (1) may be the shocker in this one. Made 8-1 in the ML, but this trainer is very clever in where he spots his horses. Has entered three here this meet and has a win and a second. Another NY-bred, but this one may actually be dropping in class for this one. Super work here on Aug. 16. Upset Special? I think so. I bet the 3-1 across the board and then box the top 3 numbers in the exacta. I key the 1 over/under all the numbers listed in two more.

5th: 9-1-3-8-7-4-10-5…I will key on the top three numbers in this sequence, led by Early Retirement (9). This one has lost the first two career starts by nearly 10 lengths in each try. But this trainer is known for taking his time with youngsters, and this one did show a bit more life early in the last race, when getting to the grass for the first time. Tired going 11/8 miles then, and shortens up a tad for this one. The dam was Stakes placed and has two turf winners so far. The trainer does hit with .21% of those making the second turf try, and he picks up a super rider for this one today. Upset Special. I really think this one has a shot at 6-1 ML odds. Graded On a Curve (1) comes from the barn of Chad Brown. Enough written? Just about. This one is a first timer, but trained well over the grass here on Aug. 16. Gets the meet’s leading rider, and the trainer scores with .19% of those debuting on the sod. I have to use. Good Wheels (3) is a first timer for Todd Pletcher, who is just having an OK meet here so far. Did train well here on Aug. 13 and since this one is by Scat Daddy, I think you have to use. Trainer/Jockey have gone 4-1-6 over the last 15 starts together. I bet the 9-1 across the board and then box the top 3 in one exacta. I key the top 2 over the rest in a much smaller version. 

7th: 1-6-1A-4-2-10-7…The entry looks much the best in this spot today, led by Samara (1). This one was claimed last time out by a trainer who hits with .40% making the barn debut after the purchase. That is 40%. And, that is with 95 horses this year. This daughter of Hard Spun (who just so happens to be by Danzig) gets back to the grass where she is much the best, as well. Has run a second in only try at this specialty sprint distance. Looks to be very tough in this spot. Her teammate, Hoponthebusgus (1A) is accomplished, as well. But she has run twice at this distance and not hit the board either time. May be a bit better today, but is a deep closer that will need racing luck and maybe a bit more ground. The filly with the best chance to upset the apple cart and the entry here may be Dream Passage (6), who is a NY-bred facing open company. Last time she tried that she was swamped out of the boat and lost by more than 9. but the new trainer gets a second race with her today and he scores with .34% of those. Should improve on the return to the sod today. I bet the 1-6 across the board and then box those two in the exacta.

9th: 9-7-8-5-6-4-1-10…Riskaverse Stakes…I will focus on the top two numbers in this listing, led by Goodthingstaketime (9). This one is trained by Jorge Abreau, who is having a really nice meet here with a limited number of runners. In 26 starts, his horses have put up a 5-2-6 record and .19% winners. This one tired in the G3 Lake George last time out after pushing the pace on the front end. But shortens up to a mile today, and that should help her sustain that energy a bit more. Two races back, she hung right there with two really, really good ones and she ran third to the Champ Rushing Fall three back. Facing good company of late. Punked (7) is 8-1 in the ML, and probably will drop in the odds before PT, but she should run much, much better today. Ran 7th and was beaten 28 lengths in the Lake George, but was checked in that one for some reason while weakening in the stretch. If you go back two races, she was second to Got Stormy, and, the race before, she won while closing late. To put the pace last time out was a strange change in strategy. Look for her to take back off the pace like she has done before. And, quite honestly, done very well. I bet the 9-7 across the board and then box those two solidly in the exacta. I will key those two over/under the 8-5-6, as well.

10th: 5-4-8-7-10-9-2-6…I will focus on the top two numbers in today’s finale. Identity Politics (5) will be making the second career start for trainer Chad Brown, and despite the 2-1 ML odds, he may be a bargain at that price. Ran second to a horse who has already come back to win again in the career debut at Belmont Park in early July. Has trained well since getting here, and gets a top rider back in the saddle. Trainer is hitting at a .30% clip here this meet, and seems to win about every grass race from here to the desert. Measure Twice (4) may have the best chance to upset the favorite. A first time starter who is by Scat Daddy and trained by a guy who is known for getting them ready on debut. The barn hits with .25% of debut runners, and that is with 303 tries. This one fired a bullet over the grass here in a.m. works on Aug. 16. Looks ready. And, looks like he can motor. I bet the 5-4 across the board and then box those two solidly in one exacta. I key the 5-4 over/under the 8 in one more.

Del Mar Race Course:

3rd: 3-7-1-2-8-5-4…A nice MSW event for fillies and mares 3YO & up on the grass, and I will go with Token Vow (3) in what appears to be a race heavy laden with speed types. If it all materializes, then I opine that it should set it up perfectly for one that comes from off the pace. Like my great friend Rob Murphy says, “turf sprints is where speed goes to die.” If that scenario plays out here, then I think Toke Vow should benefit the most. This Broken Vow filly charged home late in the last try, to get beaten by less than 2 lengths. That was the first try a month and a half. This one will need to get moving a bit quicker, and will need a running hole late, but gets the hottest rider in the world in the saddle, too. My solid pick. Storming Lady (7) is one of the speedsters in here, and she tired late after setting fire-like early fractions last time out. Held on for second as the favorite, which is to her credit. Returns here for a trainer that hits with .31% of those beaten favorites. Nice work here on Aug. 11. Another from the barn of Phil D’Amato, and another who should like to close late. This one has only one start under the girth, but came with a late rush in that one. Gets a new rider who has won .43% of his mounts for this barn in the last 60 days. Chance. I bet the 3 to win/place/show and then box the top 3 numbers in the exacta.

4th: 4-7-3-5…I would normally avoid a race like this, with the conditions and all at this level. But…there’s always a but, right? The only KY-bred in the field is a first timer for the barn of Tim Yakteem. He hits with .12% of those making the debut run, and he now teams up with the hottest rider on the planet. Nice works of late, especially for this crowd. If this one can run at all…like any at all…he should have a shot in this bunch. I bet the 4 to win/place/show and then key over/under the other numbers in the exacta.

7th: 6-2-5-7-4-8-3…A nice feature on a day with just modest races and horses carded — especially for the likes of Del Mar. I do really like one in this race, though. That would be Beau Recall (6), who will be facing allowance/optional claimer company for the first time in a long, long, long time. The last 10 races that show in her PPs are All Graded Stakes events. And, she has hit the board in 3 of those. Won once, in the G2 Royal Heroine at Santa Anita on April 7 of this year. In 2 previous starts over this grass course, she has a second. Don’t know so much about the distance here, but she should relish this company relief. I bet the 6 to win/place/show and she is my “Best Bet of the Day.” I will key the 6 over/under the 2-5-7-4. I will key the 6 over (only) the 8-3.

Arlington Park:

8th: 3-4-8-1-7-2…A 5-furlong sprint over the grass for Illinois-breds only is the highlight of the card today. I like the top 3 horses in this spread, led by Sea Diva (3). This 4YO daughter of Midshipman is coming off a near miss second going a mile over the synthetic. But she has run once at this distance over the grass before and finished second in that tilt, and it was against open company last September. Has five races this year with 2 seconds and a third to show for her work. Switches to a high percentage jockey for this one, and he is the runaway leader for the rider’s title here. Does flash some speed in the past, and can possibly stalk, as well. Look for this one to be on or near the lead at the wire. Brittney On Blades (4) is a pure speed merchant, who will try to take them all gate to wire. Ran against open company last time out and made the lead in it, before tiring late. Only lost by 11/2 lengths, though. Gets a wily vet in the irons again, and this one has two seconds in four previous tries over this grass. Embarrassing (8) just may be the horse to watch in this one, though. This 3YO Fort Prado filly has only raced against State-bred once in her career. She aired them out in that one going a distance of ground. The question about this one, though, is that she has never sprinted a single time in her 5 race career. Did have a super sharp work here on Aug. 18 to pump a little speed into her. Trainer hits with .18% of those cutting back from a route to a sprint. Worth a serious look, if she can stay somewhat close enough early on. I bet the 3-8 across the board and then box the top 3 numbers in one exacta. I key the 3-8 over the rest of them in another 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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