McLean’s Selections for Churchill Downs on Friday, June 22

Day Results8-3-5-6
Churchill297-100-101-149
Top Pick Win %33.70%
Top Pick ITM % 188-28965.10%
Payoff % of Top 3 Picks at CD39.30%
2018 Overall 886325-333-393
Win % of Top Pick36.70%
Payoff % of Top 3 Picks Overall39.50%

A really nice day, as far as the exacta plays were concerned, on Thursday. Now, we are just trying to keep the momentum going for what could be a wonderful racing weekend. Here is a closer look at today’s card at Churchill Downs:

1st: 7-3-2-6-1-5-4-8…Super Simple (7) will be getting the grass for the first time today for a trainer that hits with .13% of those, but with .22% of those making the second career start. The first effort was good, when well supported and he had traffic issues early on in that one. Has trained OK since the first run for this meet’s leading trainer. Souper Charlotte (3) will be making the first start for trainer Mark Casse, who hits with .16% of those types. When making the first start on grass, the barn is good for .13%. This daughter of Tapizar cost $75,000 as a Keeneland September Yearling. and is the daughter of a Stakes winner, who has two winners from two starters to date. Super works over at Keeneland for this one. The one to beat, with a clean start. Scatrattleandroll (2) is a first timer for the barn of W. Bret Calhoun, a talented young man who hits with .20% of debut runners out of 251 that fit that category. Does well with turf starters, as well (.19%), and a daughter of Scat Dadddy — whose progeny are having a pretty decent year. I bet the 7-2 across the board and then box the top three numbers in the exacta.

2nd: 6-4-3-2-1…The first “dot” (must use) play of the day comes right here with She Loves Leather (6), who draws the outside in this condensed field. This one loves the lead, and will probably gas right to it from this spot early on in a stretch out to a mile distance. Has two starts lifetime at this distance, with one win to date. Has a second in only start here, which came earlier this meet. The “bug boy” apprentice stays up, and gets 5-pound weight allowance, which does not hurt here. Should fit nicely in this group and my first Best Bet of the Day. Open Invitation (4) moves back to the Big Leagues today after a couple of tries over in West Virginia. This trainer has a win in two starts here this meet, but has attracted one of the hottest riders on the grounds. Very interesting. Budget Cut (3) has started here 10 previous times with only one win to show for the efforts. But she has 2 seconds and 3 thirds, as well. So…I use underneath. I bet the 6 to win/place/show and then key the 6 over/under the other numbers listed in the exactas.

3rd: 8-5-9-1-2-4-6…I will focus on the top two numbers in this sequence, led by Triple Kapalua (8). This one is 9-5 ML odds, but looks the part after being claimed out of the last start when she nearly pulled off a late-running win as the odds-on favorite. The new trainer hits with .16% with those making the barn debut, but also scores with .26% of those returning to the races after being defeated as the favorite last time out. Nice training session over at the Churchill Downs training facility on June 16. Looks the best here. Vyera (5) may be the best shot at an upset. This one ran 4th last time out against tougher and going shorter. But the previous 5 races, she had a second and four thirds. Like the return to 7 furlongs, which she nearly won at here two starts back. Brunette (9) has raced just three times to date, with a second and a third in the last two tries. Couldn’t do much at Belterra last time out, but was steadied in that one and lost all chance. This trainer can win on the bigger circuits and the new rider is holding his own this meet. I bet the 8 to win/place/show and then box the top 3 in one exacta. I key the top 3 over the rest in a much smaller version.

4th: 8-5-4-7-3-1-6-2…Despite the long list of numbers here, I am going with a single here, keying Victory Cigar (8) in this spot despite the move up a couple notches in the claim ranks. This one nearly won last time out here, just missing by a nose. The trainer hits with .23% with those making the second start off a layoff, and this one had a brilliant work here on June 8. The blinkers coming off the last time surely helped, but look at the winner two races back. A darn good one. Jacktastic (5) may have the best shot at an upset. Ian Wilkes is a top notch trainer and is having a very nice meet here. This one ran second last time out, which was the 2018 debut. And, he caught a really good one in that race, who has already returned to win again. Improvement should be expected. I’m Looking Up (4) is a first time starter for Steve Asmussen. Can’t overlook anything from this barn right now. The sire wins with 16% of first timers, and the dam has 8 winners from 10 previous starts — with 2 Stakes winners, to boot. (Brisnet.com Stat of the Day. Go here for all your handicapping needs. The best in the business.) Solid works for this one, too. I bet the 8 to win/place/show and then key the 8 over/under the 5-4-7. I then key the 8 over (only) the 3-1-6-2, in a smaller version.

5th: 9-11-5-8-2-3…Ship Stalker (9) nearly won at this same level last time out here on June 7. Came with a late bid that day, but was inched out by a neck. That was first try on the dirt surface, and he looked much better on the new surface. Catauga County (11) is a horse that I really like, coming from the barn of Joe Sharp. This one has been running against much tougher and now drops down two class levels. The barn hits with .30% of those making this drastic a cut in class and that is with 47 previous runners. The rider is hitting with .24% over the last 29 rides for this barn, too. Hawk (5) will be making the third start off a layup, and the barn hits with .26% of those doing that. Another making a nice class drop and that should benefit this one, too. I bet the 9-11 across the board and then box the top 3 in the exacta.

6th: 5-1-8-3-9-2-7…Hard to separate the top three in many ways, but I give a “dot” to Blame the Frog (5). This one has run two solid seconds in a row to kick start the career and now moves over to the grass, where this sire has done well in the past, and is on fire this year, as well. The trainer hits with .19% when a beaten favorite returns to the gate. Looks ready to score, to me. Chocolate Kisses (1) cost $410,000 as a yearling, and is out of a dam by the name of Brownie Points. I used to own a half-sister to this one, and nearly everything can run. The dam was a SW and has three turf winners to date from 4 starters — including one SW. Works have been super — especially on May 31. Look out, if she can get out of the gate quickly. Rail is no bargain for “babies.” City Diva (8) has run twice before, but should like the transfer to the grass, as well. Trainer hits with .25% with horses in the MSW category. I bet the 5 to win/place/show and then box the top 3 numbers in one exacta. I key the 5 over/under all the numbers in two smaller versions.

7th: 9-3-4-2-8-7-6…I concentrate on the top 3 numbers in this one, led by Conquest Wildcat (9). This one will get the blinkers back on after losing them the last time. The winner of that one has already come back to win, and now this one plummets to a career low level. Bullet work on May 17 suggests he is OK. Watch out at this level. Only Liquor (3) didn’t fire last time out at Arlington park, but had two wins before that. Drops in class for this one and looks like a solid stalker with a shot. Archie (4) ran third at this level last time out and was closing with a hard rush. A similar run today will make this one tough, but it looks like he has a hard time putting good races together back-to-back. Vulnerable? I bet the 9-3 across the board and then box those two solidly in one exacta. I key those two over the rest in a smaller version.

8th: 2-8-4-7-6-1-3-5…I focus on the top two numbers here. Twin Farms (2) had all kinds of traffic issues in the last one. The trip cost that one all chance. Now, with Corey Lanerie taking off all mounts today to be with his ailing wife, he will try a new rider. The work on May 21 was solid and the are two back was really good. Like the distance, where this one is a perfect 1-for-1. Rubus (8) will be making his first start of 2018, and he will get into the high-end claiming ranks for the first time. Training sessions look solid and well intentioned, and this one has a lot of talent. Ran second to Promises Fulfilled in his second career start. That kind of run would be tough to beat today. Full of Run (4) is an Asmussen trainee, who ran in the G1 Champagne Stakes in his second career start. Should be better today at this level and the second off a layup. Like the work her on June 17. Contender. I bet the 2-8 across the board and then box the top 3 numbers in one exacta. I key the top 3 over the rest in a smaller version.

9th: 9-10-1-3-4-6…Two off the AE list (#s 11-14) look good in this spot, and if the race is moved off the grass and over to the dirt, I certainly key the #15 on top. But, if the field stays as is, I go with Four Knights (9) on top here. This one was claimed three starts back and looks ready for this spot as the beaten favorite. Had trouble in the last start and now gets a super aggressive rider in the irons for the first time. Looks solid. American Sea (10) is dropping down for the first time and should be a contender against these types. Trainer hits with .11% with those making the first start in the claiming ranks. Tipper (1) is 8-1 ML odds and has a nice shot in here, for sure. Like the last two when moved over to the grass. I bet the 9-1 across the board and then box the top 3 in the exacta.

Good Luck & All the Best/Gene

I got a perfect trip,” Ortiz said. “We got a good post and he broke sharp. He was ready today, it was a big performance. Coming in I just wanted to ride my race. Let him settle at first and then let him finish. In preparation for the race, we worked with him to gallop out and finish strong. [The plan was] to relax early and finish strong and it worked out good.”

“I expected him to run a big race but I didn’t think he would gallop out like that,” he added. “I’m so happy to see the way he did it.”

Irad Ortiz, Jr., The winning rider
  • 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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