McLean’s “Select” Selections for Saratoga on Monday, Aug. 13

Day Results13-5-5-3
2018 Overall 1146426-423-510
Win % of Top Pick37.20%
Payoff % of Top 3 Picks Overall39.52%

We had a great day going on Sunday, all in all. We were alive in the Huge Pick 5 Carryover Pool at Arlington Park — with a total buy-in of over $2 million — until the last race. We hit a 19-1 and a 7-1 long price in the first four legs. But…

There’s always a but, right?

We had a single in the last race. And, when the tote board flashed for the first time and I saw all the early money coming in on “my horse” (the one I bet), I got a bit excited. The payoff was over $15,000 for my $0.50-cent ticket. But he didn’t have much run, and was done by the top of the stretch.

Such is life, my mom would say.

We did have a nice 5-winner day out of the 13 races we handicapped, though. And, we are looking to add to our numbers with a limited edition on Monday. Here is a closer look at our “select” choices for today:

Saratoga Race Course:

1st: 4-5-6-7-1-2-3…this is a 51/2-furlong event over the grass (if NYRA so decides to leave it on the lawn today). A high-end MC race for 3YOs & Up. And, it is loaded with potentials. I go to Slick Silver (4), who will be getting his second start over a grass course today. This one started the career with three straight dirt tries and ran second in each of the first two tries. The debut run was a darn good one, before he faded to Crosswalk. That one has not shown much of late, but he was dynamite earlier this year when Slick Silver faced him down at the Fair Grounds. The first test over the sod on June 14 at Belmont, but not a bad effort. Led early on in that one before spitting the bit. Shortens way up today, and the trainer/rider have teamed up to win .27% in the last 92 starts together. Trainer also hits with .21% of those dropping into the claiming ranks for the first time. I go here. Better (5) will be making his first career start for young Jonathan Thomas — who also has the distinct pleasure of training the grand Catholic Boy. This one is out of a Tale of the Cat mare, and should be bred both top and bottom for the grass. Work here on Aug. 3 was super nice, and the trainer hits with .19% of those making the debut on the sod. He scores with .28% of all grass runners. That’s good. Fooch (6), one of two for the barn of Wesley Ward — who specializes in these types of events. This 4YO son of Gemologist has not run since Jan. 18 of this year, and tired late in that one to a fading third. That was on the dirt, though, and this one will get his first grass test after three dirt tries. Dam has 1 winner from 2 starters — but no turf winners. Yet. Should like this shorter distance, and has been working lights out in the a.m. Look at the move over the dirt here on Aug. 3. I bet the 4 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.

4th: 10-3-7-5-4-1-8-6…I will concentrate my efforts on the top 2 numbers in this selection, led by Seismic Jolt (10). This one cost an amazing $800,000 at the OBS April Sale earlier this year. And, he is a Florida bred by Kantharos and out of a Concorde’s Tuen mare by the name of Valid Concorde. The dam was just a winner. So what gives here? He must really look the part. The mother has thrown one turf winner from three starters so far. And, this one is trained by Mark Casse, who does win with .13% of those debuting on the grass. The works are really good, too. Take a peak at the published one here on July 25. But the price tag sells me on this one. Current (3) comes from the barn of Todd Pletcher, and he is having another outstanding year with .24% winners from 622 starters to date. Yet, the barn only hits with .09% wins from those debuting on the turf. What to do. What to do. This one is working quite nicely in the a.m., but a super work here over the dirt on Aug. 6 and a nice one over the turf here on July 30. This one cost $725,000 as a Keeneland September yearling and is by the grand Curlin. The dam already has a Stakes winner, to boot. I have to use. Hawaiian Noises (7) is a first timer from the barn of Ward. He bred and still owns this one. Puts Jose Ortiz in the saddle, and the works have been good enough in the morning to warrant some consideration. The dam has two turf winners from three starters and two Stakes winners. Breeding there. I bet the 10-3 across the board and then box those two solidly in the exacta. I key the 10-3 over/under the 7-5. I then key the 10-3 smaller over the 4-1-8-6.

7th: 5-1-4-2-3…My “Best Bet of the Day” comes in this compact, condensed, and talented field — with Take Your Guns (5). This 4YO son of Blame is trained by Chad Brown, who is clicking to the winner’s circle at a .29% clip this meet. This one will get blinkers for the first time ever today, and the trainer hits with .24% of those donning the shades for the initial time. Will shorten up to 11/8 miles today after going 11/4 and 11/2 in the last two. Stamina not an issue. Before those efforts — both in G2 company — he had won two in a row to being the 2018 campaign. Gets regular rider Joel Rosario in the saddle, and if he can keep this one close enough to the speed duel likely to ensue up front, he should be rallying well late. My pick. Bonus Points (1) is a Maryland-bred trained by Todd Pletcher. He has hit the board in 11 of 18 lifetime starts, but he has been really good since the blinkers were added to the equipment list seven races back. Has two wins, a second and a third in that grouping, with the third coming in the G3 Discovery Handicap at Aqueduct last November. Should be coming late, as well, with Iran Ortiz taking the mount for the first time on this one. The speed should materialize between Flowers for Lisa (4) and You’re to Blame (2). Both like to be forwardly placed, with the #4 flashing real early speed numbers in the last three wins — all in a row. If he gets loose on the front end, he may be tough to catch. But Johnny V should put the #2 in the race early, too. Could set it up for my top pick. I bet the 5 to win/place/show and then key the 5 over/under the 1-4-2. Over the #3 only.

Good Luck & All the Best/Gene

We (Collected) should have been on the lead and the other horse (Hoppertunity) was too close.

Bob Baffert, trainer of Collected and Hopportunity who ran third and fourth respectively in the San Antonio Stakes at Santa Anita
  • 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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