McLean’s Selections for Churchill Downs on Friday, June 15

Day Results8-3-4-3
Churchill260-86-84-129
Top Pick Win %33.10%
Top Pick ITM % 160-25263.50%
Payoff % of Top 3 Picks at CD38.10%
2018 Overall 849311-316-373
Win % of Top Pick36.60%
Payoff % of Top 3 Picks Overall39.30%

McLean’s Selections for Churchill Downs

On Friday, June 15

 

1st: 5-2-3-1-4-6…Hymn to Inanna (5) gets my first “dot” (must use) of the day, and it comes in the very first race. This 3YO daughter of Dominus will be making her first start, as well. But she does come from a dam who has 3 winners from 4 starters – including one Stakes winner already. The trainer is super hot right now (5-1-1 in the last 10 starts over two weeks) and is having one super meet – winning at a .46% clip. He only hits at a .11% rate with debut runners, but this one is training lights out for one spotted in this price tag area. Look at the move her on June 2 and the one on May 23. Looks ready. Double Oaked (2) has been made the 9-5 ML favorite, and she will be making her first career start for my great friend and wonderful person, Buff Bradley. I can’t root against, but this one has 3 seconds and 2 thirds in the first 8 starts, but looks to hand in those efforts. Maybe the new conditioner – who can work miracles with horseflesh – will have the magic touch. Will be making the 2018 debut, and the trainer hits with .14% off this type of layoff. Summer Storm (3) is another first time starter, and had a wonderful work on June 10. Trainer is 0-for-2 with such kind, but this one looks ready and comes from a mare who has 8 winners from 9 starters. Like her chances to hit the board, despite a shaky jockey selection. I bet the 5 to win/place/show and then box the top two numbers in one exacta. I key the top 2 over the rest in a smaller version.

 

2nd: 6-2-1-4…Action Everyday (6) once looked to have a special future in the Stakes ranks, back when he was a mere 3YO and working for the Todd Pletcher ranks. He broke the maiden on debut by 4 and then came right back to win the second start by over a length. Ran a fourth behind J Boys Echo in the G3 Gotham in race #3, and was third in the Frederico Tesio in the fourth race. But it has been tough sledding for this one since then. After a break or two away from the races, his only race where he has hit the board was on March 23 at Turfway Park when he was second. Now, he shows up in the claiming ranks for the first time – where the trainer has won 1 of 2 with in previous tries. Gets back to the dirt after a misfire on the grass at Beltera in the last try. Had a good work at Keeneland on June 3. Fits here? One would think. Esposito (2) is the 9-5 ML favorite after being claimed out of the last try by a trainer having a super meet. He hits with .32% with those making the barn debut after a purchase. Comes right back at the same level, but stretches back out to a distance where he has tried before. Tired to run third in that one at the Fair Grounds back in March. Had a solid work here on May 29. Fit enough. Dapper Sam (1) will be dropping back into the claiming ranks for the first time since he was purchased for $40,000 two starts back. Won that won easily, but did not fare well in the first start for the new barn that tried the turf and allowance company in the last. Now back in more familiar territory for this one and should appreciate the class relief. Gets a new jockey who will ride aggressively. I bet the 6 to win/place/show and then key the 6 over/under all the numbers listed in the exacta.

 

3rd: 2-3-1-6…Caduceus (2) will get the blinkers for the first time, and the HOF trainer does hit with .14% of those getting the shades for the first time. He drops all the way from $75,000 to $10,000, and the barn hits with .25% with those that make this drastic a plunge. Had a good enough work here on June 8 and this should be a spot where this one contends – if he is ever going to show anything. Leo Meister (3) has hit the board in the last three starts – all at this level, or thereabouts. The veteran trainer hits with .23% of those returning after facing defeat as the favorite in the last race. This one had trouble getting started in the last one, and didn’t get to the lead where he likes to be. A better start could put this one in the mix. Tres Troubadours (1) will get the saddle from a trainer having a super meet here. Has 10 winners in just 28 starts to date, and this one could put another notch in that belt in this one, with a serious drop in class. Trainer hits with .40% of those making this kind of drop, and the rail is winning at a 19% rate. The jockey for this one has a 3-2-2 record in 11 starts over the last week. Can’t dismiss. I bet the 2-1 across the board and then box the top 3 numbers in the exacta.

 

4th: 1A-1-2-7-3-5-4-6-8…Call to Service (1A) and her stablemate, Oceans of Love (1), both would have a shot in this 5 furlong event for 2YO fillies. But one of them is likely to be scratched prior to post time, since the trainer has named the same rider on both parts of the entry. If push comes to shove, I would prefer the 1A a tad more, even though they have been training together for much of the past 6 weeks. Call to Service was purchased for $150,000 as a yearling, and comes from a dam who has 2 winners from 3 starters and already has 1 Stakes winner. The dam was Stakes placed, as well. Both have had good works and should be OK, although the 1 does have the better post (3). Lady Lucy (2) has a race under her girth already. She looked to be making a serious run in that one before tiring late, while going 4 wide. Now, she gets the rail and with the same kind of gas early, she could be tougher with more stamina. Meet’s leading rider gets the mount for this one over a rider who is struggling mightily right now.  Devil Fish (7) is another first time starter, and will get the saddle from a trainer who hits with .20% of those making the debut run. Super nice works of late for this one, who is a homebred. I bet the 1A/1-7 to win/place/show and then box the top three in the exacta. I key the top 3 over the rest in a smaller version.

 

5th: 1-6-3-4…My Peeps (1) has put up a nice record of 4-1-1 in just 8 starts to date, and comes into this one off a nice win at Indy. Was claimed off a win at Oaklawn Park on Marsh 16, and after a run against company way too tough, she has now been spotted better. Will be moving up in class for this one, but looks to fit in this crowd. Katie’s Reward (6) won at this level two starts back in the slop at Keeneland. Was defeated by our top pick at Indy in the last try, but the trainer scores with .31% of those returning as a beaten favorite. Gets a huge rider switch for this one, and back to the same rider who won on this one two back. The last two were on the dirt. The last three races on the dirt track, she has a win, a second and a third. Should be right there again today. I bet the 1-6 across the board and then box those two solidly in the exacta. I key them over the other two numbers listed in a smaller version.

 

6th: 8-6-2-3-1-4-7…Like the race above, I focus on my top two numbers in this spot. Cashel Rock (8) is an Illinois-bred who has performed well against Open Company in the past, and looks well-spotted for this one today. He has raced in Stakes company in the last two and now drops back into the claiming company where he won at three starts back at Keeneland. Has hit the board in three of the last four starts with a couple of wins in that mix. Looks sharp right now for a trainer who wins with .22% of those on the dirt. Sheikh of Sheikhs (6) comes into this one off a nice win here on May 12. Ran away from his company that day after staling the lead early on for the meet’s second leading rider. Trainer hits with .34% of those trying to repeat in the claiming ranks. Prime Issue (2) won his last race, as well, capturing a 6-furlong event at Keeneland on April 20. That win came after a drop and just two races after being claimed by these connections. Had a super work over the Churchill Downs training center track on May 30. I bet the 8-6 across the board and then box those two solidly in the exacta. I key the top two over the rest in a smaller version.

 

7th: 3-5-2-4-9…Donwell (3) is getting dropped to a career-low level for this try today. Won against allowance company at Delta Downs three races back and has a nice 2-2-5 record in the first 15 tries. Claimed two starts back by a trainer that hits with .21% of those making the second start after the purchase, and with .26% of those dropping this drastically. Looks well intentioned right here. Blame Will (5) has not raced since April 13, but will be dropping to his lowest level, as well. Trainer is having another super meet here, winning at a .27% clip and leading all trainers in number of wins this meet. Switches back to the barn’s go-to rider for this one, and he has combined with this barn to win .29% of the last 82 starts together. Ninth Hour (2) won his last out here on May 1 when he was claimed by Stephen Lyster, one of the top young trainers in all of the land. Lost that condition that day, and will move up in class, but this one has the looks of being very good right now. Can’t dismiss this one, and the odds could add some real value to the exotics. I bet the 3-5 across the board and then box the top 3 numbers in the exacta.

 

8th: 4-3-1-2-8-5-7…Tamit (4) nearly won last time out when going just a mile here on May 25. Closed with a rush to just miss by a neck. Stretches out to 11/8-miles today, and this filly has never been that far, to date. She does show a number of tries at 11/16 miles, though, and has closed in some of those efforts. Should improve with the second try in 2018 and off an extended vacation. Church Social (3) has put up an interesting record so far in her career. This daughter of Pulpit has raced 16 times with only 1 win. But she has run second 3 times and third on 7 occasions. If you are looking for a contender, who is not likely to win – this is your type by pure definition. So, I might as well and tell you what I plan to do. I bet the 3 to place/show and then key the 3 over/under all the numbers in this sequence.

 

9th: 7-9-4-6-3-8-5-1…Mizzen Air (7) will get the drop to the basement for this one after winning this Spring at Keeneland for $20,000. That came on an “off track” and she is mighty tough with a wet track condition – having won twice over it already. Unlikely to rain today, though, and this one faded mightily in the last effort on a fast surface. This one goes for a top barn that hits with .50% of those making this type of class drop and with .23% of those in the claiming ranks, overall. Prom Theme (9) has a record of 18-18-12 in 92 starts to date, and this 9YO mare comes in off a second here on May 27. This one is a deep closer, and she has hit the board in 18 of 28 starts at this sprinter distance. However, she has 9 seconds in that mix. Erin’s Wish (4) gets the drop to the basement for the first time ever. In one start over this track, this 5YO mare made it a winning one last November. Can’t dismiss. I bet the 7-4 across the board and then box the top 3 numbers in one exacta.

 

Good Luck & All the Best/Gene

 

I knew the Withers was probably not going to be as tough as the Gotham. We’re feeling really good about it now…One thing’s for sure, he’s not going to be short coming back that close off a mile race. If he doesn’t get it, maybe he doesn’t get it.”

Trainer Jason Servis, confirmed that Firenze Fire would indeed run in next Saturday’s $250,000 Withers Stakes at Aqueduct
  • 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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