McLean’s Select Selections for Saratoga on Monday, July 30

Day Results7-1-4-4
2018 Overall 1055392-389-465
Win % of Top Pick37.20%
Payoff % of Top 3 Picks Overall39.40%

We had a real good day on Sunday, despite the fact that we selected only one pure winner out of 7 races we zoomed in on for the day. We were led by our “Pick of the Day” Good Magic winning the G1 Haskell Invitational at Monmouth Park. We nailed the exacta cold, with Bravazo running second, and had the trifecta, with Lone Sailor finishing up the third spot, as well. Surprisingly, that paid rather handsomely.

But we also hit three nice exactas at Saratoga. The one in the fifth paid $61.00 for $1 bet. The one in the 7th paid $54 for $1 wagered. And, the one in the 9th returned $24.70 for $1 placed. Not a bad exacta day, at all.

Here’s a closer look at today’s “select races” at Saratoga:

3rd: 8-3-5-1-9-4-7…This is a grass sprint event for 3YOs & Up. Very wide open, but I will focus my attention on the top four numbers in this sequence — led by Battle Station (8). This one dead-heated for second with Pagliacci (1) in the last try for second. Both of them were beaten a neck at Belmont Park on June 15 for the win. But the two of them come at this from very different styles of racing. Our top pick will attempt to take them gate-to-wire. He has just two races over the grass, and has a win and a second. The last race, he blistered to the front and went :22.1, :44 flat, and 1:06.3 for the 6 furlongs. Wow time. the NY-bred will shorten up a bit for this one — back to 5.5 furlongs — and that should help immensely. Plus, the trainer of this one hits with .20% of those returning as the beaten favorite. Has worked very well since that race, and the third time off the layoff wins at a .19% clip for this barn, as well. Look for him to be tougher to pass late this time. McErin (3) used to be trained by the conditioner of our top pick. Raced for the red-hot Jason Servis last time out for the first time. Ran a very nice third as the beaten favorite in that one. Very nice work on July 24, and this one will be stalking the lead. Gets a nice rider switch here, and I love the 8-1 ML odds. Hangman (5) won two races back going longer and then spit the bit while trying Stakes company at a mile distance last time out. Now, shortens back up to the sprint distance and the trainer hits with .27% of these cut backs. Dam has 5 turf winners from 8 starters and 2 Stakes winners. Bred for this and a son of Scat Daddy. Like the 6-1 odds here, too. And, of course there is Pagliacci (1), who will be making a run late. I bet the 8-5 to win/place/show and then key the 8-5 over/under the rest of the numbers listed in the exactas. I box the 8-5 solidly in another pair.

5th: 2-5-10-7-3-6…A key here for me with Gump (2), from the barn of Rudy Rodriguez. This one ran very well on debut, to finish second in the slop at Belmont Park on May 17. A month later, this one lost all chance at the gate. Rushed the gate early and slammed into it at the start. Never was in the race after that. Gets a new rider for this one in Irad Ortiz, Jr., who has won with .20% of his 46 mounts for this barn in the last 60 days. Gets the blinkers for the first time today, and the trainer scores with .16% of those out of 126 to try. Solid work here on July 25. Like this one at 5-1 odds. Best Bet and Upset Special, all in one. Backtohisroots (5) will go for the barn of Joe Sharp, who has three wins in just 6 starts here so far this meet. I can do that math. It’s a .50% win rate. This one ran against these types last time out and was a green second. Had to wait in that one, as well. Has come North and worked a bullet over this track on July 24 in the mud. A wow work. If he runs to that number today, he may not be caught. Catch Me If U Can (10) is a first timer from the barn of Eddie Kenneally, who hits with .25% in the MC ranks. Dam has four winners form five starters, including one Stakes Winner. Works very solid, including the one at Keeneland on July 12. Like the rider here on this one, too. I bet the 2 to win/place/show and then key the 2 over/under all the others listed in the exacta. Looking for some prices here.

6th: 5-9-2-8-7-1-3-4…I will focus on the top two numbers in this listing, led by Graham Motion’s Midnight Tea Time (5). This 3YO son of Midnight Lute was steadied late in the last try, costing him all chance for the win. Moved up to second by the DQ, and still only beaten less than 2. The race three back at Churchill Downs, he was bottled up in the MSW event on KY Derby Day. Had to bang his way through in that one. Will be running late and will need some racing luck, which he has not found to date. But he is very capable at 3-1 ML odds. Nice. The horse to beat, though, should be Course Correction (9), who is 2-1 ML odds for the barn of Chad Brown. Nearly won on debut at Keeneland in April, over a soft turf. Came back to run a tiring fourth a month later when stretched way out. That race should help prepare the son of Lemon Drop Kid for this one. Prompt (2) is another who should be closing late and will have a shot with some racing room late. The race two back at this same distance was nearly a winning one and the third place horse that day has already returned to win. Not without a shot in here. I bet the 5 to win/place/show and then box the top 3 numbers in the exacta. I key the top 3 over the rest in a smaller version.

7th: 2-4-3-7-1-10-5-8-6…Coronation Cup Stakes…Again, I will focus most of my attention and dollars on the top 2 in here. Brattata (2), another grass runner from the barn of Chad Brown, is 4-1 in the ML, and I love this daughter of More Than Ready. She caught a monster in the Wild Applause Stakes last time out at Belmont Park going a mile. Now, she will shorten back up to 51/2 furlongs. The trainer hits with .25% of all turf runners, and this one comes from a Stakes Winning mare, who has two turf winners and one Stakes winner herself. Throw out the race two back, which was washed off the sod. The race three back in Graded Stakes company was a darn good one against a tough customer. Love this one here. Mominou (4), IMO, is the horse to beat. This 3YO Congrats filly will be stepping up to Stakes company for the first time ever, but she has the credentials to do quite well. Has a win in her only try at this short distance, and has never been worse than second in 4 grass tries. Trainer is 0-for-4 at Saratoga, but wins non-Graded Stakes races at a .27% clip and wins with .33% of those returning as a beaten favorite. Like the work here on the grass July 16. Ready. Factorofwon (3) is 8-1 ML odds and could add some value to the exotics. Ran well in her first start East of the Mississippi on July 7. Trainer gets to try this one for the first time today, and he hits with .13% of those making the barn debut. This one won a Stakes going down the hill at Santa Anita back in May. Has talent, too. I bet the 2 to win/place/show and then box the top 3 in one exacta. I key the top 2 over the rest in a smaller version.

8th: 1-7-3-8-4-5…Another key race for me, using Haynesfest (1) on top here. This one has hit the board in the last five and six of the last seven races. Has been in the top 3 in 6 of 9 lifetime. The shorter distance should help this speedster today, and if she breaks well from the rail with a salty rider up, she could be very hard to catch in this group. My Best Bet of the Day. Nocturnal Mission (7) is 6-1 ML odds and could spice up the exotics rack a bit. Trainer scores with .22% of those that have a sprint-route-sprint form going, and this one has hit the board in each of the last two tries. Third off the layup is a good angle, and the trainer hits with .13% of those. Solid record for this trainer all year. Maho Bay (3) ships in for the Joe Sharp barn, and we have previously discussed how well these horses are running this meet. Beaten favorite last time out, and Sharp scores with .25% of those returning for the first time after that happens. I bet the 1 to win/place/show and then key the 1 over/under all the other numbers listed.

9th: 1-4-10-7-5-6-8-9…The top 3 numbers here will get the majority of my attention, focus and dollars today, led by Soglio (1). This son of Scat Daddy jumped into a G3 event last time out and nearly won it at odds of nearly 8-1 at Arlington Park. The last two races have been tremendous, and if he can duplicate those efforts, he will be mighty tough to beat while stalking the lead in this one. Focus Group (4) beat our top choice just three races back, when this deep closer swept by them all to easily win going away at this long-distance relationship. Had all kinds of trouble in the last effort, and should be much better today with a cleaner trip. Trainer scores with .29% of those returning as a beaten favorite. Channel Cat (10) will be facing older horses for the first time today, but has put up some good races against the 3YOs so far this year. Will be closing late, as well, and will be dropping out of three straight Graded Stakes events. The rider has an 11-4-4 record in the last 39 mounts. Hot. I bet the 1-4 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.

Good Luck & All the Best/Gene

He ran a big race again (after winning the Kentucky Downs Juvenile in his last race). This will absolutely set him up for the Breeders’ Cup.”

Mike Maker , Trainer of Henley’s Joy
  • 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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