2023 Only / Top Pick in the Money Overall — 478-791
2023 Only / Top Pick in the Money @ HI 34-51
2023 Only / Top Pick Wins @ HI 18-51
2023 Only / Top Pick in the Money @ CD 80-141
2023 Only / Top Pick Wins @ CD 40-141
2023 Only / “Key Horses” @ CD 24/9-7-2
37.50% Win / 75.00% ITM
2023 Only / “Key Horses” @ KEE 2 / 2-0-0
100.00% Win / 100.00% ITM
2023 Only / “Key Horses” @ TP 45/21-8-4
46.47% Win / 73.33% ITM
2023 Only / “Key Horses” @ FG 5/1-1-1
20.00% Win / 60.00% ITM
2023 Only / “Key Horses” @ GP 6/6-0-0
100.00% Win / 100.00% ITM
2023 Only / “Key Horses” @ OP 2/1-1-0
50.00% Win / 100.00% ITM
2023 Only / “Key Horses” @ HI 6/2-0-2
33.33% Win / 66.67% ITM
2023 Only / “Key Horses” @ PIM 2/1-0-1
50.00% Win / 100.00% ITM
2023 Only / “Key Horses” Overall 115/50-23-13
43.48% Win / 74.78% ITM
Stats Are Now Completely Updated
Here’s our looks on Friday at the hometown oval — Churchill Downs:
1st: 4-6/2-3-1//5…Soulful Tara (4) gets the nod in the ole’ lid-lifter at the hometown big oval in Louis-Town. This 3YO filly will make the first career start for trainer Caio Caramori, who I have known since he was knee-high to a miniature. Barn wins with .20% of those that debut in the MCL ranks and with .24% in the MCL ranks overall. This one has yet to define herself as a racing prospect. The others have, already, and the prospects are not great. So…we give the newcomer a shot here. Cortado (6) has raced 10 times and hit the board once. That was a distant 2nd at Turfway Park back in early February. It was against tougher, but…I bet the 4 across the board and then key the 4 over/under the 6-2-3-1 in the exactas. More with the 6 than the rest. Tread lightly here.
2nd: 3/1-2//6/4-5…The first “Key Play of the Day” comes here with Towing (3). This 6YO gelding has raced 11 times and has won twice and finished 2nd on 5 other occasions. Was claimed last time out in an easy win here on May 3. Moves up in class, but looks like he is capable. Nearly won at this level at KEE last October. This barn wins with .20% in the last 100 times it ran one for the first time after a purchase. I bet the 3 across the board and double down on the win wager. I will key the 3 over/under the 1-2 in the exactas.
3rd: 8-5-7/1-4-6/3//2…Foolish Front Fifi (8) nearly won here on May 11 and just came up a neck short. That was at huge odds. I don’t like betting big-odds runners back the next time out, but this one figures here. Rider is 0-for-14 this meet. Ugh. Krickle (5) was just behind our top pick in that same race. This one was around 6-1 odds. Was 3-wide. May turn the tide here. I think so. Crystal Symphony (7) may be the best of the first timers. Barn wins with .14% making the MSW debut. I bet the 5 — take note — across the board and then box the top 3 numbers in the exactas. I will key the 8-5 over/under the 7-1-4-6-3 in two smaller units.
4th: 2/7-3-6/5/4/1…The second “Key Play of the Day” comes here with Champagne Affair (2). This 6YO mare goes for a power couple of owner-trainer and will make the first start after being claimed back in March. Drops from that $15,000 purchase price to $10,000 here. Barn wins with a whopping .41% when that happens. Rider has teamed up to go 4-4-3 in the last 15 with the barn operator, too. Love this one. I bet the 2 across the board and then double, triple and quadruple down on the win wager. I key the 2 over/under the 7-3-6-5-4-1 in the exactas. More with the 7-3-6 than the rest.
5th: 1-4/3/6//2-5…Kunshan Bridge (1) was claimed last time out and will make the debut for a HOF trainer/owner. Barn wins with .18% of the last 325 to make the first start after a purchase. Won at $30,000 level last out at Turfway Park. Drops here. Barn wins with .24% when trying to repeat in the claiming ranks. Picks up a world-class rider. My Bariley (4) has hit the board in each of the last 3 and has won nearly $500,000 in the career. Had one win last year, but is 0-for-5 this year. Underneath? I bet the 1 across the board and then double down on the win wager. I will box the 1-4 in the exactas. I will key the 1-4 over/under the 3-6 in two smaller units.
6th: 4-7/5/6/1/2/3…Absolute Courage (4) gets top billing here, for me. This 5YO son of Into Mischief drops to a career-low price tag and will make the 2nd start off a layoff. Barn wins with .19% of the last 843 to do that. Gets a top rider up. Threat. I Run (7) goes for a top barn operator and one of the best kept secrets in the game today. Will make the debut here off a series of really nice works. This could be a good one. A real good one. I bet the 4-7 across the board and then double down on the 7 (take note). I will box those 2 numbers in the exactas. I will key the 4-7 over/under the 5-6-1-2-3 in two smaller units.
7th: 2-3/4-5/1-6/7…Fitzpatrick (2) gets the blinkers on and, better yet, the services of Tyler Gaffalione, for the first time. That combo could push this one into the winner’s oval. Drops considerably and that could assist the process, too. I like. Devil’s Tower (3) threw a clunker last time when running wide at KEE. Before that, though, this one had won 3 in a row. Returns here as a beaten favorite and then barn wins with .26% of the last 128 to qualify for that title. I bet the 2-3 across the board and then box these two sternly in the exactas. I will key the 2-3 over (only) the 4-5-1-6 in a smaller unit.
8th: 2-6-1/3/(7)//4/5…Bound for Nowhere (2) will make his Churchill Downs debut here in a 5.5-furlong sprint and that truly is hard to believe. The 9YO horse has run 21 times in the career and has been a stable staple. But the “old man” is coming in off a nice 2nd at KEE on April 26 in the 2023 debut. Will close with the best of them and is a Graded Stakes expert. Looks to be a standout here with a clean trip. Has won over $1.23 million in purses. Joel Rosario comes in for the trip. Nice. I bet the 2 to win/place and then box the top 3 numbers in the exactas. I will key the top 3 numbers over/under the 3 in two smaller units.
9th: 7-1-4/2/3-6//5-8…The finale is a 11/16-mile claimer at the $30,000 level and I will ante up with Fieldstone (7). This 5YO was claimed at KEE last time out when running 2nd. Goes to a barn that wins with a whopping .29% on first try after a purchase, and that’s with a sample size of 380. Gets a new rider and comes in off a stern work on May 19. Look out. He’s Got This (1) just may have this. Gets a class rider after being claimed last time out. Ran behind our top pick in that one. New trainer? Long Crow (4) has a chance here, too. Drops to a career low price tag and does have a win and a 2nd in three previous tries here. Likes the surface. I bet the 7 across the board and then box the top 3 numbers in the exactas. I will key the top 3 numbers over/under the 2 in two smaller units.
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 the vision for the site and still finds time to handicap races, interview trainers and keep his finger on the pulse of the industry, More About Gene.