McLean’s Select Selections for Saratoga on Thursday, Aug. 2

Day Results6-2-3-4
2018 Overall 1067396-394-472
Win % of Top Pick37.10%
Payoff % of Top 3 Picks Overall39.40%

We did alright on Wednesday, the first day of August. We had two dead cold winners out of the 6 races we chose, but we did hit a $20.40 payoff, and a $13.30 payoff for a $1 across the board bet on each, and we nailed a $24.80 exacta payoff at Del Mar for a $1 bet.

Here is a closer look at some of our top races for Thursday, Aug. 2:

Saratoga Race Course:

3rd: 1A-3-4-9-8…Frontier Market (3) has been a money burner for much of his life, but the 5YO Lemon Drop Kid gelding looks well placed for this — his 6th attempt — at breaking his maiden. In the first five tries, he has finished second four times and has been the beaten favorite in the last two. But it’s hard to dismiss this one as a horse that simply won’t pass others nearing the wire. He has lost twice by a neck and once by only 1/2-length. And, he has lost to some good ones in the past, too. The show horse in the last race has already come back to win, again. So…It may be his time for a trainer that is hitting at a .25% clip this meet and .28% rate in 436 races this year. The pick. Hizzem (3) is another from the same barn, and closed very well on debut to nearly get there at the end — after a very awkward and slow start. The trainer hits with .25% on the second try, and the jockey has teamed up with this barn to record a 5-1-3 record in 19 starts over the last two weeks. The barn could take top two slots here. Hierarchy (4) is another who rallied from well off the pace to close well at the wire. The winner of that one has already come back to win here at Saratoga in convincing fashion, too. If this one can negotiate a better trip — after going 6-wide in the debut run — he could be a factor in here, as well. I bet the 1A-3 across the board and then box the top 3 in the exacta.

4th: 1-3-5-2-4…Birdstone Stakes…The top contender in this long-distance, dirt Stakes looks to be Hard Study (1), who is 3-5 ML favorite. This 5YO son of Big Brown is coming off 10 straight races where he has hit the board, and he has six wins mixed into that group. In the last try, he was beaten just 3 lengths by the likes of Hoppertunity and War Story in the G2 Brooklyn Invitational. Before that, he had ripped off three straight wins. Has a win at the distance and at this track — coming in this same race a year ago. It’s tough to win the same Stakes event two years in a row, but he looks to have the credentials to do just that. You’re To Blame (3) has hit the board in 10 of 16 lifetime and ran third in a listed Stakes event last time out. But this well-bred son of Distorted Humor will need a perfect scenario to upset the top choice. Big Dollar Bill (5) looks to be on the improve for the barn of Ian Wilkes, and was beaten as the big favorite last time out. The trainer hits with .26% of those coming back after that happens, and he had a nice second to Irish Freedom and a win before that. Finished a neck behind the second choice four races back. I bet the 1 to win/place and then key the 1 over/under the other numbers in the exacta. More on top, than bottom. The 1, despite the low odds, looks to be the Best Bet of the Day — in terms of a possible winner.

6th: 6-9-2-1A-8-7-10…I will focus on the top two runners in this spot, led by Diva’s Revenge (6). This 3YO filly by The Factor will be making her debut on the grass for a top notch trainer, who hits with .17% of those making the first start over the grass, and .28% in the second career start. Super work over the sod here on July 27, and the winner of the first race has come back to win again. Dam has two winners from six starters — but no grass winners to date. Cottonwood Falls (9) is a first timer for the barn of Chad Brown and likely to get over-bet in this tilt. Sharp work on July 27 for this inaugural trip, but the trainer — as good as he is — only hits with .11% with horses making the debut in the MCL ranks. That’s out of 34 starters, too. Beware. No Deal (2) has been out 10 times, on the other hand, and is still looking for that first win. But this will be the first time in the MCL ranks and she does have 5 finishes in the Top 3. She likes to stalk the lead and will need a much better start than what she got in the last try. New rider returns and they combined to finish second by a neck once before. I bet the 6 to win/place/show and then key the 6 over/under all the numbers listed. More on top, than on bottom.

8th: 2-3-7-1-6-4…Dream Pauline (2) is coming off a long layup and will be facing tougher competition by a lot. But…There’s always a but, isn’t there. I love this 3YO Tapit filly in this spot today. She won on debut in December by running off to a 6-length victory. Been on the shelf since then, but has been training lights out for this return for a top barn — who hits with .15% of those returning off this type of a break. Gets a HOF rider in the saddle today, and she just has “The Look.” My Best Bet of the Day. Isotope (3) may offer some real value to the exotics in this one, at 6-1 ML odds. Trainer is having a super good year, and this one has four wins and three thirds already on the resume. Has a win over this track, too. Critique (7) is another coming off a long layup. She hasn’t run since finishing sixth in the G1 Frizette Stakes as a 2YO last Fall. She broke her maiden by 16 lengths in the second start, and has been training very well for the return to action, as well. Will be bet with these connections. I bet the 2 to win/place/show and then key the 2 over/under all the numbers listed, but more over the 3-7-1 than the others.

9th: 5-4-1-7-2-6…Onthemoonagin (5) will be making her 2018 debut and NA debut at the same time today. She has run some real good ones in Group Stakes races over in Europe, and has been training lights out for this start today. Trainer hits with .30% of those making the first start for the barn and with .23% of those shipping in from overseas. This filly is out of a Stakes Winning mare who has thrown one turf winner out of 4 starts and 2 Stakes winners. With the addition of Lasix today, this one looks like a single to me. Con Te Partiro (4) comes form the barn of Wesley Ward, and ran fourth to Daddys Lil Darling in the G3 Modesty Stakes last time out. This one has a win over this sod and has hit the board in 6 of 12 lifetime. Daughter of Scat Daddy has only one win in the last seven starts over two years, and is in need of a confidence booster. Danceland (1) won last time out for the barn of Shug McGaughey, but has never strung great races back to back yet. Has a 3-1-1 record in 10 starts, but looks good right now after the last run. Again? I bet the 5 to win/place/show and then key the 5 over/under the numbers in the exacta — with more on top, than on the bottom.

10th: 1A-9-1-6-4-7…Special Trip (1A) has raced five times to date and has two seconds and a third to show for her wares. She was fifth last time out, but she had all kinds of traffic issues, and was rank from the get-go. That was back in May, and after a short respite, she will get a new rider and a drop in class both today. And, they both could propel this one to the top of the class. Love the work here on the training track on July 16. Mambo Dancer (9) will be making her second lifetime start and with a better start, she could be a strong contender. She will get a lot of backing at the windows, considering the connections, and the fact that she was bet down to favoritism in the first start. But that was at Gulfstream Park in June, when most of the best horses have already left South Florida. Skeptical. Muchacha Uno (1) is the teamate of the top choice and comes into this one after being claimed in each of the last two tries. This trainer hits with .22% of those making the barn debut and he has two straight seconds since getting treated with Lasix. Should be close again. I bet the 1A-1 to win/place/show — hoping both hit the board for a duel payout. I key them over/under all the other numbers in the exacta.

Good Luck & All The Best/Gene

He just got a little outpaced,” said Bandua’s rider William Buick. “Had a lovely run through the race. The front two just kind of kicked clear of me and he was just getting his rhythm going. He’s a nice horse and he’s one that’s going to keep improving, as well.”

William Buick, Rider of third-place finisher Bandua
  • 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 ...

    Full Bio >

More From Gene McLean