McLean’s “Select” Selections for Saratoga on Wednesday, Aug. 15

Day Results2-0-0-3
2018 Overall 1148426-423-513
Win % of Top Pick37.20%
Payoff % of Top 3 Picks Overall39.52%

We are back in the swing of things at Saratoga today, and, lo and behold, the track is scheduled to actually run a few of the grass races today on the grass course. Maybe the track crew can actually run a few at the right distances. (Just a little joke right there, about a non-joking matter. Since the crew put the starting gate at the wrong place and they ultimate ran a race at the wrong distance earlier this meet.)

Let’s dig in and take a look at a solid, nice and competitive Wednesday card:

2nd: 3-6-1…Tossup (3), who will be making her second career start today, nearly pulled off the win on debut back in July at Belmont Park. Tired late in that one, but had some troubles in the early going and went wide into the stretch. A little better trip today, and this daughter of Pioneerof the Nile could be a little more salty in the MSW ranks — after trying a Stakes race on debut. Like the work here on July 31, and gets a new rider today, who has a 8-4-9 record in the last 31 mounts here. Elegant Zip (6) is probably the horse to beat, and will be making the second career start, as well, for trainer David Donk. This one ran a nice, stalking second on debt in a shorter event. Should be OK with the stretch out and the pedigree is very solid for a NY-bred. Dam was a winner and has a winner from three states already. I liked the #7 in the third hole, but she was scratched from the race. So, I go to Mimic (1), who I think has an outside chance to run in the money here. First timer for a barn that normally does quite well at Saratoga, and has hit with .15% of those debuting in the MSW ranks. Rail is doing OK at this dirt distance, and the work here on July 4 shows some ability. Rider hits with .19% for this barn in the last 42 mounts together. I bet the 3 to win/place/show and then key the 3 over/under. 

3rd: 2-3-4-1-5…Not a lot of speed in this tilt, and for that reason alone I will give a slight edge to No Need to Appeal (2) in this one. She ran fourth after a two month layup in her last try, but faced some real good ones that day, and she caught a sloppy track. Will stretch out today to 7 furlongs, and she showed a lot of speed early in her career. If she can make the easy lead in this one, she may have it all her own way on the front end. Posse Needed (3) is the horse to beat, IMO, and the horse I truly like at this distance — where she is a perfect 1-for-1. Tried the blinkers for the first time last out, and she got up late in a 6-furlong test over the mud at Belmont Park. May wheel right back and pull the same trick. Like the works down in New Jersey since the last win. Greatreviews (4) had her two-race win streak snapped last time out but this one has three wins in the last five starts and is doing well right now. Caught a muddy track last out and was 6 wide in the upper stretch. A little better trip and this stalker could be the one to pull the minor upset in her. I have to use. I bet the 2-3 across the board and then box the top 3 numbers in the exacta.

4th: 7-2-1-6…Avery Maeve (7) is the ML favorite for a trainer who is 0-0-1 in 17 starts here this meet. But, this one has been knocking on the door against tougher competition, and looks to be well spotted in this one today. Despite not having won over the last two years, this filly has hit the board in five of the last six starts; and has been in the money on 9 of 15 lifetime. Gets an aggressive rider in the saddle today, and has been in the money in 9 of 11 lifetime on the grass. Has a win and a second over this course, too. Today is the day? Banty’s Girl (2) won the last time out for a rider who has hit with 5 out of 10 over the last 60 days for this barn. That was the first win for this filly in the last two years, though, and I think that will make her a bit vulnerable at a low price today. Love the rider, though. He is a grass mower. Texas Music (1) had some real traffic issues and problems at the start of the last race. And, that doesn’t take much to do one in at this sprint distance on the sod. The rail has been awful this meet and the trainer hits with only .06% with the second career start for the barn. But this one had three really nice runs before the last effort. Trainer is scoring at a .43% clip here this meet. Never been hotter. Another one? I bet the 7-2 across the board and then box the top 3 numbers in the exacta.

5th: 4-1-7-9…D’s Sis (4) is a first timer for trainer that hits with .15% of those making the debut in MSW ranks. Also, the trainer hits with .20% with 2YOs. Love the recent works, and the rider does well for this barn, too. Love the breeding cross here, and could pop right off the bat at 4-1 ML odds. Salt Hay Bay (1) is another from the barn of Rudy Rodriquez, who could have a good day today. He hit with .16% of first timers, and this one comes form a dam who has 4 winners from 5 previous starters. Like the works of late for this NY-bred. Don’t Tell Addie (7) ships up from KY base at Churchill Downs to make the debut. Dam has 3 winners form 5 starts to date, and this one has been training well under the Twin Spires. Can’t dismiss with this rider. I bet the 4 to win/place/show and then box the top three numbers in the exacta.

7th: 7-6-1-5-8-10-9-4-3…I will focus on the top two numbers in this sequence, led by Civil Union (7). This well-bred daughter of War Front will be making her career debut today for trainer Chad Brown, who is having another great Saratoga race meeting — winning at a .30% clip so far. This filly is training really well of late, and is a home-bred for Joseph Allen. The jockey is hitting with .29% of the last 38 tries for this barn, and the dam — while unarmed, has two turf winners to date from 4 starters. The mare has produced one SW, as we’ll. Soar From Shadows (6) has 6 starts under her girth, so far. And, she has a second and two thirds on the scorecard to date. The last race is a toss out, due to the fact that she went three wide into both turns and lost all the ground. Gets a new rider from the Ortiz brothers today, and the trainer is looking for his first win this meet. Does well with grass runners, though (.16%), and with beaten favorites (.30%). Both of those characteristics apply here. Daddy’s Melody (1) draws the dreaded rail, but this daughter of Scat Daddy gets a top rider for her first start. Like the work over the grass here on July 27, and this one brought $150,000 as a Keeneland September Yearling in 2016. Can’t dismiss this trainer, despite the fact that he wins with only .07% of first timers on grass. I bet the 7 to win/place/show and then key the 7 over/under the 6-1-5-8-10. I key the 7 over (only) the rest of the numbers listed.

8th: 2-5-7-3-10-1-4-8-9…Still Krz (2) won at the $50,000 level last time out, when running at Belmont Park in June. Now, the 6YO gelding shows up for a $32,000 price tag for a trainer who is winning at a .20% clip here this meet, and with .32% of his 258 mounts this year. The trainer scores with .33% of those dropping in class off a win. This one has speed, and has finished in the money at this sprint distance in 12 of 19 tires. Has a third in two starts here, but this is the lowest level this one has ever run in before. My pick. Richard the Great (5) may spice up the exotics a bit, what with a 6-1 ML odds being set. This one has not been out since March 31, and will go for a new trainer for the first time today. The new barn hits with .24% of those making the debut with the new connections, and with .15% of those away from the races this long. Love the work at Belmont Park on July 31, and the new rider up for this one. The jockey is 8-4-1 over the last 28 races and one week here. Professor Snape (7) was claimed two races back and is coming off a win for the new barn in the first try for the new connections. Will drop down into the claiming ranks again today — at an all-time low price. This one has hit the board in 14 of 17 lifetime tries, but has only one win in 6 tries at the distance. Has hit the board 4 more times, but may shy away from the win bet here. I bet the 2-5 across the board and then box the top 3 numbers in the exacta. I key the top 3 over/under the 3-10 in one more. And, I key the top 3 over the rest in a smaller version.

9th: 2-6-4-8-7-5-2…Bolton Landing Stakes…With the scratch of Shang Shang Shang (3) today, this race becomes a little more wide open. I will focus on the top 3 numbers in here, led by Drynachan (2) — another from the barn of Chad Brown. This 2YO City Zip filly is a NY bred, but she was super impressive on debut here on July 20, running off to an easy 2-length victory as the 2-1 PT favorite. I normally stir clear of NY-breds in Open Company, but this one is by a top stallion; training by a top grass trainer; and, most importantly, has the look of a true runner. Went wide in that initial appearance, as well. Could wheel right back to win again. Elsa (6) will move up from Maryland to tackle the big time today for trainer Michael Stidham. Will get the services of one of the best grass riders in the world today, and is coming off back-to-back super works over the sod down at Fair Hill. This one is by Animal Kingdom and out of a Distorted Humor mare, who has two turf winners to date. Can’t dismiss. Chelsea Cloisters (4) is a 2YO First Samurai filly who Wesley Ward took to France and ran in a Group 3 event after visiting Royal Ascot. She ran huge in France, nearly winning a Group 3 event there on July 3. That was against colts. Today, she returns to the U.S., and will be united with a top, HOF rider in Johnny V. Look at the work here on Aug. 6. How can you not use this one. I bet the 2-4 across the board and then box the top 3 in one exacta. I key the 2-4 over the rest in a smaller exacta version.

10th: 3-8-7-2-10-1-5-4-6-9…The last event today is a high-priced claimer for Maidens 3YOs & Up. I will key my selections on the first two numbers in the sequence, led by Heza Kitten (3), who could give trainer Wesley Ward a huge day on the card. This is a 3YO gelded son of Kitten’s Joy and has been on my HTW list since he had all kinds of traffic issues at Keeneland back in April. Came back to nearly win at Belmont Park in late May. Had another troubled trip in the last at Belmont on July 8 — when way wide at the top of the stretch. Today, one of the hottest jocks on the grounds gets the leg up again, and the gedling had a super work here on Aug. 6. Looks ready to snap the losing streak today. King Orb (8) has run two really good ones in a row for trainer Todd Pletcher. The winner of the last race has since come back to win impressively at Arlington Park for trainer Larry Rivelli. Like the training session here on Aug. 10. Looks primed and ready to fire, but no Johnny V? Wicked Trick (7) ran a super good race last time out at Belmont Park. Led throughout before tiring late in hat one. Trainer is hitting with .25% wins this meet, and this one shows 3 seconds and 2 thirds in 9 starts so far. Gets a new rider in the irons today. I bet the 3 to win/place/show and then box the top 3 numbers in the exacta. I will key the top 2 numbers over/under the 7-2-10. I key the top 2 numbers over the rest.

Good Luck & All the Best/Gene

I could see Jose had a ton of horse and I knew he was going to make his run. I didn’t want the wire to come too soon because he was coming with a big run. I’m just glad he proved he can win outside the state of Kentucky. I thought we were in the right place. I thought maybe we’d be ahead of Whitmore, maybe not so far back, but they went so fast.”

Ben Colebrook, Trainer of the winner
  • 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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