McLean’s Selections for Churchill Downs on Friday, June 21

Day Results8/0-2-5
2019 Overall 890890/320-315-420
Win % of Top Pick35.96%
Payoff % of Top 3 Picks Overall39.51%
2019 Top Pick in the Money –606 of 89068.09%
Top Selection ITM / CD 208-31466.24%
Top Selection Win / CD 110-31435.03%
“Key Horses” @ CD 46-15-12-632.60%
“Key Horses” in 2019 161-62-34-2038.51%

It was a tough day at the CD Coral. Not a single winner in the 8-race, twilight card. Had a number of seconds and close calls, and we did managed a couple of exactas that returned $23.30 and $25.60 for each $ 1 played.




We will endeavor to do better. Hard to do worse, right?

Here’s a look at today’s card:

1st: 3-6/7-8-2/5…Wasabi Girl (3) is a first time starter for the barn of Steve Asmussen, and is a 2YO daughter of Shanghai Bobby. Pedigree sports a little more speed angle than the other Asmussen horse debuting in this spot, and, thus, gets my edge. Love the work at KEE on June 11. Dam has 1 winner from 1 starter. Gets the barn’s top rider. My pick. Frank’s Rockette (6) is 8-1 in the ML and goes for a barn that normally takes its’ time with debut runners and youngsters, alike. But this one had such a great work on June 15, she is hard to ignore. Especially at a price. Gets a top grass rider in the saddle, and the barn does hit with .10% debuting in the MSW ranks. I bet the 3 to win/place/show and then box the 3-6 in one exacta. I will key the 3 over/under all the numbers listed in two smaller versions.

2nd: 3-6/1-2/4-5…I go right back with the 3-6 combo in the second race, as well, led by Data Driven (3). This 7YO horse by Northern Afleet has not won in 5 starts this year, but does have 2 seconds and 2 thirds against tougher. Drops in for the lowest price tag since he was claimed for $16,000 here last September. Won that one by nearly 9 lengths. Gets class relief in here, and the barn hits with .22% in the claiming ranks. My pick. Bolita Boyz (6) is dropping in class, too, for a barn that has won .23% of the last 484 starters. In the claiming ranks? Wins at .28% clip. Last time this low a price tag, he ran second by a nose at Belmont Park last May. Will be closing late. I bet the 3 to win/place/show and then box the 3-6 in one exacta. I key the 3 over/under all the numbers listed in two smaller versions.

3rd: 8-3-7/12/10-9-(14-17)/2-1…The first grass race of the day is for the 2YOs going the 5.5-furlong sprint distance. I will give the edge to Union Colonel (8), who ran third over the main track here on May 17. Set all the pace in that one before tiring late. Should like the conversion to the grass, for a barn that hits with .15% of those making this surface switch. Dam has 2 winners from 5 starters and 1 turf winner, to date. Jockey has won with .13% in the last 15 rides for this barn. Crypto (3) is a first time starter for a trainer that excels with the “babies” and at these sprint distances. Has won .20% of his 20 starts here this meet, and this one does have a nice work on June 5 at KEE. Not a surprise. Peace Achieved (7) is another from the Casse barn. Did run third over this grass on May 24. Barn hits with .19% of those making the second grass move. This one cost $160,000 to purchase. I bet the 8-7 across the board and then box the top 3 numbers in the exacta. I will key the top 3 numbers over/under the 12 in two smaller versions.

4th: 10/11-12-1/2-9-4…The first Key Play of the Day comes here with Marie’s Mandate (10). This 3YO Strong Mandate filly is dropping considerably after a neck loss last time out. Barn hits with .27% of those making this kind of class plunge. Work on May 19 — before the last race — was very solid. Has speed. May be tough to catch. Interesting rider choice. Has only 2 wins in 78 starts here this meet. Why? I bet the 10 to win/place/show and then key the 10 over/under all the numbers listed in the exactas.

5th: 2-6/4-5-1/3-8-7…Raising the Flag (2) is dropping to nearly half the price tag that he ran for last time out, and he finished second in that one — beaten just a length. Son of Tapit is still a colt and may be popular in the claim box today. Has a win and a second in just 3 starts here, and gets a rider who has won .25% for this barn over the last 60 days. My pick. Italian Charm (6) won last time out for $32,000 and now comes back for the price tag of $25,000 today. Barn hits with .35% of those that drop off the win. Gets the same rider in the saddle. Look to be tough, closing at the end, and look for this one to be claimed, as well. I bet the 2-6 across the board and then box them in one exacta. I will key the 2-6 over/under the 4-5-1-3 in two smaller versions.

6th: 6-4/9-8-2/(13-12)-1-11…The second turf race of the day will be contested at the 1-mle distance and I will go with Kitten’s Cat (6). This one is dropping into the claiming ranks for the first time for trainer Mike Maker, and the barn hits with .17% of those that get that class drop. Just two races ago, this 5YO son of Kitten’s Joy was a regular competitor in the Stakes company level. Should be salty here, and will be running late for a jockey that has a 5-1-2 record in the last 15 starts. Nice. Hay Dakota (4) was claimed last time out off a near win performance. Trainer hits with .33% on the first start off the claim purchase — and that is with 51 starters. Look for this one to run well here again. Has a win and a second in 3 starts over this sod. I bet the 6-4 across the board and then box those two solidly in one exacta. I will key the 6-4 over/under the 9-8-2 in two smaller versions.

7th: 4-1-6/5/9-8-3-2…A very competitive and wide-open affair here, but I will give the slight edge to Oro de Tejano (4). This one was claimed last time out off the successful Tom Amoss barn, and ran a nice second in that one at this same level. Gets a solid rider for the first time today, and look for more late in the going. Dale Romans has not had the greatest of meets, but is warming up a bit. His Watch Me Whip (1) could move up after a solid second at this level last time out. Has 2 seconds in 3 trips here. Croatian (6) ran third at Oaklawn Park on March 23 at this level. Was elevated and run over the grass last time. I throw that completely out. Back to dirt — and barn hits with .20% of those making this surface change. Like the work here on June 11. Don’t dismiss this one. I bet the 4-6 across the board (take note), and then box the top 3 numbers in one exacta. I will key the top 3 numbers over/under the 5 in two smaller versions.

8th: 11-12-10/1-7/2-3-8-4…What a nice race here to highlight the Friday card. I go to Wicked Indeed (11), who is coming off 4 straight Stakes events. Best finish was a second in the Mine That Bird Stakes at Sunland Park. Son of Tapit has been working good for this effort, and should be tough at this level. Market King (12) has run in three Graded Stakes events in a row. Not close in those, but did run third to Omaha Beach in a division of the Rebel Stakes. Has a second here and should relish the drop back in class types. Soap Bubble (10) has hit the board in 7 of 9 career starts for a top trainer, and was third to West Texas just three starts back. Look for this one to make a nice impression today, as well. I bet the 11 to win/place/show and then box the top 3 numbers in one exacta. I will key the 11 over/under the 12-10-1-7-2-3 in two smaller versions.

9th: 5-10/9-2-1/(14-15)/4-12-7-8…The last race of the day is a 1-mile turf event, and I go to Shakes Creek (5). This one comes form the Brad Cox barn and has run 2 nice seconds in a row since breaking his maiden over the grass at the Fair Grounds back on March 13. Gets back to the grass for this one, and should relish the sod. Will be a tough out here. Clear for Action (10) drops into the claiming ranks for trainer Mike Maker in this one. Never been available for this cheap of a price tag before. Likely to be claimed, too. Won two starts back at Gulfstream Park and that was the second win in a row. Gets a top rider to take the mount now. Look out. Speed to burn. Will have to catch. I bet the 5-10 across the board and then box those two in the exacta. I will key the 5-10 over/under the 9-2-1-4 in two smaller amounts.

Good Luck & All the Best/Gene


The horse broke well today,” Gaffalione said. “I had the horse inside, Dunph, going to the lead and then (Gun It) showed a little bit of speed. When I saw they were intent on going I just tried to get him back and got him to relax. He came back to me nicely and settled well down the backside. Got a little keen going into the far turn and wanted to move a little early. But I didn’t want to take too much away from him so I tried to sit as long as I could. He was waiting on horses down the lane but I kept him at task and there was plenty of horse there.”

“Mark (Casse, the trainer) and his team have done a great job,” Gaffalione said. “They’ve had a ton of confidence in this horse the whole way. It’s just an honor to be able to ride the horse. He’s just so professional, trains great and he’s a pleasure to be around.”

Tyler Gaffalione, Rode of War of Will to victory in the G2 Risen Star Stakes at the Fair Grounds
  • 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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