McLean’s “Select” Selections for Saratoga & Del Mar on Wednesday, Aug. 22

Day Results4-1-1-1
2018 Overall 1215448-446-543
Win % of Top Pick37.00%
Payoff % of Top 3 Picks Overall39.40%

We have a wonderful day of racing forthcoming on this Wednesday, if the rains will allow the racing officials to leave the races that are currently carded for the grass on the turf courses at Saratoga. If not, then I will avoid my selections — which are for turf only.

Good races at Del Mar later today, as well, led by a Stakes event in the 7th and the return to the races for Dabster — a son of Curlin and a horse whom I have loved since he was purchased for a cool $1,000,000 as a 2YO in training in 2016. I think he looks awfully good in the Harry F. Brubaker Stakes going a flat mile today.

Here’s a closer look at today’s selections:

Saratoga Race Course:

3rd: 5-3-4-10-6-7-1…A wide open affair to kick start the racing action today. This one is scheduled for 5.5-furlongs over the grass course. If it stays on the sod, I will go to Halladay (5) as my top pick. This 2YO son of War Front is out of a Stakes-winning mare who has two turf winners already. That comes from 5 starters and they have totaled 3 wins. This one got a start here on July 28, but the rains washed it off the turf that day. Made the lead before tiring late for a third place finish. Like the work on Aug. 10 and looks the best of the bunch. Love the 3-1 odds, if they hold. Party With Friends (3) is a son of Speightstown and comes from the red-hot barn of Chad Brown. Ran in the same race as the preferred choice, but much farther behind. Bumped at the break and never showed much after that. Dam has 6 winners from 8 starters and 3 turf winners, to date. Like the work here on Aug. 16. Suggests that he should be better than what he showed on debut. Trainer hits with .25% of those making the second career start and .21% of those switching surfaces. Real Money (4) is a first timer from the barn of Mark Casse, who is having a horrid meet here so far. Has won only 2 of 46 so far. Rider has been hot over the last week, though, getting a 11-3-10 record in the last 44 rides. The long shot special in here, though, may be Gearhead (6). Trainer has only 1 win in 12 starts this meet, but has solid numbers all year. Like the way this one has worked, especially down at Fair Hill before coming North. Look at the breeding here. City Zip sire. Out of a Dynaformer mare. This cross as worked well through the years. (I had a nice filly by Purim — who was by Dynaformer. The filly was out of a City Zip mare. She went on to be a Stakes winner and Graded Stakes placed. Loved Purim’s Dancer.) Getting 8-1 ML odds and Jose Ortiz. I use. I bet the 5-6 to win/place/show and then key the 5-6 over/under the 3-4-10-6. I key the 5-6 over the 7-1. And, of course, I box the 5-6 a little.

4th: 9-7-5-1A-2-6…This one is scheduled for the inner turf, and if it stays on the surface, I will go to the outside and Smiles From Sadie (9). This one has run twice before, but showed a lot more energy in the last start, when she was stretched out and it was rained off the sod. The trainer hits with .26% of those making the second career route race, and the dam of this one has 9 starters that have sported 6 winners. Zero on the turf, though. Like the rider for this one. Danielle’s Pride (7) ran very well at Belmont Park two starts back over a yielding grass course. Finished second that day. But this one has 10 tries already, with only two seconds to show for the effort. Only got Lasix four starts back and the blinkers three starts back. Has been better since those additions to the daily race routine. I play under only. Hit a Provisional (5) is the 9-5 ML favorite, and definitely is the one to beat. Trainer is having a solid meet, and this one was beaten only a neck in the career debut back in June at Belmont. Will stretch out today, and my only hesitation with this one is that the trainer is 0-for-12 with horses trying a route for the first time this year. May be good enough to carry the distance, but I bet under. I bet the 9 to win/place/show and then box the 9-5-1A (take note) in the exacta. I key the 5 under the “all button” in another smaller version.

6th: 2-4-8-9-5-3…Yet another race originally scheduled for the grass. If it stays on the sod, I go to Business Expense (2), who will be dropping into the high-end claiming ranks for the first time. This trainer scores with .34% of those that get this kind of drop, and this one did win last time out as the favorite against better down at Monmouth Park. Has a win over this grass course to break the maiden last year. Nice work here on Aug. 17. Solid choice. Keep Quiet (4) used to be a real good one. But that was two years ago. In 4 starts this year, he does have a second and a third. Last time out is a throw-out for me, when he ran over the all-weather for the first time. Trainer hits with .23% of those dropping into the claiming ranks for the first time and with .25% of those returning as a beaten favorite. Last training session was very solid. A must-use for me. Zorzor (8) will be getting his first start here this meet after losing in high-end allowance company at Churchill Downs in June. This trainer scores with .29% of those making the debut in the claiming ranks, and the race two back was very nice. Rider hits with .36% for this barn in the last 39 mounts. I bet the 2 to win/place/show and then box the top 3 picks in the exacta. I key the top 3 over the rest in a much smaller version.

7th: 1-8-9-6…My first key race of the day, and I give a solid “dot” (must use for me) on Mrs. Orb (1). Despite the rail position, which can be a  bit tricky at this racetrack, I love the last race out, when she nearly won at Belmont Park on July 12. Stalked the lead from the get-go and just couldn’t get up at the wire. Gets a new rider today, and he is having a solid meet with a limited number of runners. This one will be sprinting for the first time today. Will be interesting to see if she has that kind of speed to hold the rail position. Work on Aug. 10 suggests that she does. Makin’ Out (8) is the solid second pick for me. This one ran third on debut June 14, despite an “awkward start.” Has been away since, but the training session here on Aug. 17 was very nice. Should spice her up for this try, and the trainer is having a super meet with limited runners. He has 4-7-1 record in just 18 starts. In the money 12 of the 18. Not bad. Contender. I bet the 1-8 across the board and then box them solidly in the exacta. I key the 1-8 over the 9-6 in a smaller version.

8th: 1-5-4-6-7-2-3…I will focus on the top two numbers in this sequence again, led by Broken Border (1). This contest is scheduled for a mile over the inner turf course, and if it stays on the sod this one looks tough. Has 6 races at the distance to date, with a win and 3 seconds. Despite the fact that she ran last at Suffolk Downs, she goes for a high-win percentage trainer (.29% this meet and .33% overall in 271 starts this year). The last two races, very good ones, were against open company. Now returns to The Spa to face NY-breds only. Four races back, ran in a State-bred Stakes event at Belmont Park (in October) and lost by less than 4 lengths that day. The main competition should come from Vortex Road (5), another from the barn of Bruce Levine. This one trained very nicely over the sod here on Aug. 16 and I can throw out the last race — which was moved to the sloppy main track. Before that, this one had hit the board in 8 straight. has two wins at this distance already. I bet the 1-5 across the board and then box those two solidly. I key the 1-5 over the 4-6-7 in another smaller version.

9th: 9-10-4-5-3-8-7-11-2…The top two numbers in this sequence get my attention, led by Rocketry (9). This is a long-distance grass endurance run, and the top pick has been very good the last three races. Has a win and a third in just 3 tries over this grass course before, and should have won the last time out if not for going extremely wide late. Will be closing and the run in the 2-mile Belmont Gold Cup on June 8 was very nice. Has been facing tougher and goes for a top trainer here this meet — with .28% winners. Call Provision (10), who beat the top choice lsat time out here on July 21, goes for a top grass barn (.26% of all grass starts and there has been 1,968 of them this year). Has 3 wins and a second in just 5 starts over this sod, and worked well since the last win on Aug. 16. All signs are positive for another top run. Has a second in a Graded Stakes event last November, and has faced tougher than these in the past. I bet the 9-10 across the board and then box those two solidly in the exacta. I key the 9-10 over the 4-5-3 in another smaller version. I will key the 9-10 over the 8-7-11-2 in a very slight way.

10th: 2-4-10-3-8-5…I will focus on the top three numbers in today’s finale at Saratoga, led by No Limit Babe (2). My wife will tell you that I call her “Babe” with no limits. At least 100 times per day. But that’s a personal thing. This 2YO filly will drop into the claiming ranks for the first time and the trainer hits with .19% of those kind. She has an abundance of speed going short over the grass. And, she flashed that as far back as April, when she made the career debut on the dirt. Got the blinkers for the first time last time out, and will get a new rider for this one. The new jockey has hit with .40% of the last five rides for this barn. Wild Type (4) will be dropping into the claiming ranks for the first time, too, and the barn hits with .23% of those. Jose Ortiz opts to jump off the top choice and go for this one. She trained quite nicely here since arriving from KY. Change of Control (10) is a first timer for the barn of Chad Brown. As good as this guy is at winning races, his win percentage with those debuting in the MCL ranks falls all the way to .12%. That’s less than 1/2 of his normal win percentage this year at .28%. Dam does have one winner from one starter, and the rider has hit for this barn with a 7-6-0 record in the last 21 rides. Adds up, but a bit skeptical here. Works just OK. I bet the 2-4 across the board and then box the top 3 numbers in the exacta. I key the 2-4 over the 10-3-8-5 in a smaller version.

Del Mar Race Course:

1st: 6-1-5-2…India Mantuana (6) may be a bit compromised by what appears to be her lack of any real speed, and a short field. But this filly has been facing some good ones in the past, and despite only one third in three tries this year, she has the back class to trump these, if she can find it today. New rider has hit with .27% of the last 11 mounts for this barn. Slight edge. Siberian Iris (1) has raced 6 times this year with 4 seconds and 2 thirds. Top lawn rider gets back in the saddle today, and he wins with .17% of the last 12 rides for this barn over the past 60 days. This one likes to come from off the pace, and the lack of speed in this short field could compromise her, as well. But she does have the one second over this grass course previously. Stretch out in distance today should be no issue. I bet the 6 to win/place and then box the 6-1 solidly in the exacta.

2nd: 7-1-4-2-3…Very nice group of 2YO colts go in this spot, led by Parsimony (7). This 2YO son of Dominos brought $400,000 at the OBS March Sale earlier this year and in three starts to date, has two very nice seconds. Caught a very tough field — led by Roadster — in the last out. Got run off his feet in that one, a bit. But has returned to train very well. The stretch out to a mile today should help this one. The blinkers come off after one experiment, and the trainer hits with .15% of those routing for the first time and with .21% of those losing the shades. Jefe (1) is likely to be the PT favorite today after running two straight thirds to start the career. The last one came in the same race as our top pick, and he beat the top choice by 1/2 length in that one. Son of Curlin should really thrive on the stretch out, and the trainer does hit with .13% of those routing for the first time. Don’t be surprised to see this one move up today. Dark Prince (4) will get Joe Talamo in the saddle for Bob Baffert today. The rider has won .22% for this barn over the last 60 days, and this one will lose the blinkers today, too. Trainer hits with .37% of those losing the blinkers and with .41% of those routing after two straight sprint efforts. The work here on Aug. 15 was solid. Should improve today. I bet the 7 to win/place/show and then box the top 3 numbers in the exacta.

3rd: 5-6-3-1-2…Sauce On Side (5) will get the saddle from Peter Miller in this one, and the barn is red hot here this meet — winning at a .27% clip with 78 starters to date. This one ran well against winners for the first time in the last out. Broke the maiden at Santa Anita two back in very convincing form. Since the addition of blinkers four races back, this one has been a different horse. Returns today as a beaten favorite, and the trainer scores with .28% of those. My pick. Tiz Toffee (6) is the ML favorite and the one to beat, on paper. She has hit the board in 5 of 6 lifetime starts. But…There’s always a but, right? She is still a maiden. Despite the close calls, with 3 seconds and 2 thirds, she has never crossed the finish line first and that is a bit troubling since she will be facing winners in this group. Vunerable to me. Winsinfashion (3) is 12-1 in the ML. Don’t know if she can make it all the way to the front by the wire, but I do like the way this one trained here on Aug. 12 and she will be making the first career start for a new trainer. He hits with .08% of those making the barn debut, but this one did have a nice win at Santa Anita last October, and was full of run before tiring in the last race against tougher. She has been away from the races since January, but may be ready to jump up a bit for the new connections. I bet the 5 to win/place/show and then box the top 2 solidly in the exacta. I will key the top two numbers over/under the 3 in another, and key over (only) the 1-2 in a third.

4th: 8-5-3-1-2-4-7…My top number in here may be the #12, but she would have to draw into the body of the race from the AE list. If that does happen, I immediately include in the mix. If not, I go to Candura (8) as my top pick in here. This 2O Into Mischief filly cost $240,000 last October and has been training quite nicely for the career debut today. Look at the bullet move here on Aug. 16. Wow performance in the a.m. Trainer hits with .20% of first time starters, and is having a super meet with .24% winers out of the 46 runners to date. Rider getting up may be the hottest in the world right now. Archana (5) is another daughter of Into Mischief, and I will use this one, as well. She is 15-1 in the ML, and will become my Upset Special for the day. This one goes for a barn that hits with .15% first time starters and the work here on Aug. 18 was very nice. The dam, although unplaced, has 4 turf winners from 6 starters and they have combined for 6 wins. Breeding is certainly there for this one. A must use for me. Data Storm Kitty (3) ran super nice in the debut at Santa Anita on May 27. Been idle in the afternoons since then, but is bred for the grass. Trainer hits with .15% of those away from the races this long, and with only .08% of those making the grass debut. Solid work here on Aug. 12. Dam has one winner from 2 starters. But…there’s always a but, right? Here’s the thing. The sire is so cold right now it is not even funny. Hard to pick on top, despite the good first start. I bet the 8-5 across the board and then box the top 3 numbers in the exacta.

7th: 1-4-3-5-6…Harry F. Brubaker Stakes…My Best Bet of the Day comes right here with Dabster (1). This son of Curlin, who was purchased for $1 million as a 2YO In-Training, has been on my Horses to Watch List since he first hit the track. In fact, he was my Winter Book bet for the KY Derby last year. Injuries prevented him from ever getting serious on the Derby Trail, but that is how long I have been watching and loving this horse. Today, he gets back to a distance where he is an undefeated 2-for-2. And, he drops out of the Graded Stakes Company for the first time since he won three starts back to being the 2018 season. Picks up Talamo in the saddle today, and I think she will get the perfect stalking trip from the inside. My solid pick. I bet the 1 to win/place/show and then key the 1 over/under the other numbers. 

Good Luck & All the Best/Gene

When we straightened for home, I felt like he started running. I put him in the clear, but when I hit him left-handed, he drifted out in the two or three path. But he was running. Inside the eighth pole to the wire, I was hoping I’d get there. It was so close, I didn’t know if I had it. He broke OK. He was very relaxed the whole time, and that’s the point, get your horse to relax. He kicked home very well.”

Jose Ortiz, Winning rider
  • 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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