McLean’s Selections for Churchill Downs on Friday, Nov. 16

Day Results10-4-3-4
2018 Overall 1726635-616-755
Win % of Top Pick36.79%
Payoff % of Top 3 Picks Overall38.74%
Top Selection ITM / CD Nov 61-10458.65%
Top Selection Win / CD Nov 34-10432.69%
“Key Horses” @ CD Nov: 18-5-4-127.78%

It has been cold, and we have been a bit chilly on the tote board, as well. But we plan to heat it up on Friday. Here’s a look at the picks for this TGIF:

1st: 1/4-6-7-3…Fake Solution (1) gets my “Key Play of the Day,” right off the bat. This one is dropping all the way from a MSW event at Keeneland to a MCL level of just $15,000. If that isn’t dramatic enough, he was the betting favorite in the last out, as well. He didn’t threaten much in that tilt, but the show horse has already come back to win, and the field looks like it could have been OK. This son of Real Solution has run twice, both on the turf. Now, moves to the main track. The morning works over at the Churchill Downs training center and up at Turfway Park, most recently, have been spot on. Looks like he may prefer this surface. I bet the 1 to win/place and then key the 1 over/under the 4-6-7-3.


2nd: 2-5/4-6/3…Securitiz (2) will get a slight nod in this spot, for the barn of Joe Sharp. These connections claimed this one two races back at Saratoga for $32,000. Won easily that day by more than 9 lengths. Came back in October against much, much tougher and spit the bit after contesting the early going. Was part of a favored entry that day. Now, he returns to a level that should be more comfortable, and the barn hits with .21% of those racing for the second time after a purchase. The barn also hits with .25% of those returning as a beaten favorite. Has a nice 2-1-0 record over an “off track,” and this will be his first start ever as a gelding. Capital Letters (5) is the ML favorite, and is coming off an impressive win over a sloppy track here on Nov. 1. Wheels right back for a barn that scores with .33% of those trying to repeat in the claiming ranks. This one has 3 wins in 10 starts over this track and looks good right now. I bet the 2 across the board and hen box the 2-5 solidly in one exacta box. I will key the 2-5 over the 4-6-3 in a smaller version.


3rd: 2-7/6-4/1A-3-1…Bird Traffic (2) is a 2YO filly by Birdstone and will move up a couple of notches after running OK at the MCL $30,000 level last time out. Will get Lasix for the second time today, and the barn hits with .14% of those beating treated with the anti-bleeder for the second time. This will be the filly’s first time routing, and the barn does OK with that angle, hitting at a .12% rate. The rail is producing .21% winners and the trainer/jockey have been on a roll of late. Adds up for me. Armony’s Angel (7) really ran well in her first two lifetime starts back in the Summer, but has not fared well of late. But there are excuses. Three races back, she ran on the grass and she didn’t seem to like that. Two races back, she was steadied very sharply at the 7/16thpole. Compromised there. In the last out, she simply caught too tough a crowd. If she has not lost all confidence, she should improve against these types today. I bet the 2-7 across the board and then box those 2 solidly in the exacta. I will key the 2-7 over/under the 6-4 in two smaller versions, and then key the 2-7 over (only) the 1A-3-1.


4th: 3-5-4/1-6/8…Overanalyzfakenews (3) is a 3YO colt by Overanalyze and trained by my great friend Buff Bradley. This one has hit the board in three of the last four races and has a second and three thirds on the resume in just six starts to date. Has never been on an “off track,” but this barn does hit with .11% in the MCL ranks and does drop down a notch in the ranks for this one. Love the work here on Oct. 17, and with a cleaner run than he got in the last two, he could be OK in this spot. Blue Rooster (5) will be making the second career start for the barn of Eddie Kenneally. He scores with .22% of those making the second start, and .24% in the MCL ranks. Did finish behind the top choice in the last out, but may improve with experience. Wild About Candy (4) split the top two picks in the last out. Ran up against a real good one two back, and that winner came back to win here again this week. Should appreciate another drop in class today, and does get a great mud mark for the pedigree, especially on the sire side. I bet the 3-5 across the board and then box the top three in an exacta.


5th: 10-(14)-2-(12)/(11)9-4-5-7-6…This is the first of two races that have been programmed for the grass course. Unless there is a miracle of sorts, I expect both of these events to be moved off the turf and over to the main track. If so, that may cause a few scratches and open the door for some on the AE List to draw into the body of this one. Nevertheless, the early numbers for me go to Khairiya (10). This one tired in the late going of the last out and finished third. The race before, going two turns, she never really had a chance been nearly knocked off her feet twice in the race. The first two career starts were both OK, with third place finishes. The pedigree suggests she will like the off going, and does have enough speed to carve out a good trip from the far outside. Ginny B (14) would be a contender, too, if she draws in. Like the last work here on Nov. 7 and the breeding is solid. Has a second and a third on the resume. Takechargmatriarch (2) had a three-wide trip from start to finish in the debut run. Worked well since that outing, and should appreciate the experience trip. Gets a top rider in the irons today, and the trainer does hit with .15% of those making the second career start. Should improve. I bet the 10 to win/place/show and then box the top 3 in the exacta.


6th: 9-1-4/8-7/5-2-3…Deauville Mist (9) will drop down to a career low level in this spot today. Won two races back here to break the maiden, and the first try against winners was OK, too. Ran third in that one while trying to close wide. If she can improve at all off that effort, and the drop in class, she could be salty for a really good barn operation. Having a solid meet here, too. My Kinda Devil (1)will move up a notch in class after closing well to win the last out in Cincy. Has come back to work OK for these kind, and does have two seconds in two starts at this distance before. Babaknowsevrything (4) was claimed last time out by a barn that really knows how to move them up after the purchase. In the first race after a claim, this barn has won with .29%. Has a win and a second in three starts over this track, and did win here on June 17. I bet the 9 to win/place/show and then box the top 3 numbers in the exacta.


7th: 6-4/7-2-3-1-5…Snapper Sinclair (6) will move back to the main track today after a sprint over the yielding grass course at Keeneland on Oct. 17. Looking back, that now appears to have been nothing more (or less) than a prep race. Now, gets back to two turns, where he excelled earlier this year. This one ran third to Instilled Regard in the G3 Lecomte Stakes at the Fair Grounds; and then ran second to Bravazo in the G2 Risen Star. Fell from grace in the G2 Louisiana Derby, but now will get his second start off a layup. Barn hits with .16% of those, and with .17% of those going from a sprint to a route. I love this horse and his class my come back to the top today. A “Key Bet of the Day” for me. Fort Peck (4) is a good one, too. In 8 starts to date, he has 2 wins and 3 seconds and has faced some good ones – like Bal Harbor in the last out. Won for fun two races back, and now has 2 wins in 3 starts over this track. But an “off track?” Sire side is a little light in producing mud runners to date, but there have been only 14 to try so far. I bet the 6 to win/place/show and then box the 6-4 solidly in one exacta. I will key the 6-4 over the 7-2-3-1-5 in a smaller version.


8th: 11-3-8/10-5-7-6/1-2-4…I will spread out in this affair, and give a slight edge to the outside with Miss Imperial (11). This 2YO daughter of Maclean’s Music tired in the debut run, but faced a monster in Restless Rider in that one. The latter has come back to win two Graded Stakes events – including the G1 Alcibiades Stakes at Keeneland. If Miss Imperial can improve just a tad, and the conditioning helped, she could break a flier and never look back in this one. One of my “Key Bets of the Day.” The runner-up slot, for me, goes to Summer Delivery (3). This one will make the second career start today and has been training well since the first race. Wide throughout in that affair and tired late. Should improve for this try. Love the 8-1 ML odds. Kid Sis (8) worked super here on Oct. 31 and has a series of top works in the a.m. Trainer hits with .09% of those making the career debut, but the sire has produced mud runners and the mare’s family does well in that regard, too. Can’t dismiss at some nice odds. I bet the 11 to win/place/show and then box the top 3 in one exacta. I will key the 11 over/under the 3-8-10-5-7-6 in two smaller versions.


9th: 4-9-10-1/5-8-2-6-7-3…This is another grass race that is likely to come off the soggy sod and go over to the muddy main track. That makes this one so challenging to handicap, trying to figure which ones can go either way. So, it figures – right from the start – to be a spread race. That being written, I will go to Diamond Tap (4) in the top spot. This well-bred daughter of Tapit will be making her 2018 debut after a year layoff for the barn of Buff Bradley. But simply put? This one can motor. She won on debut at Keeneland in October of 2017, and looked to be a winner when stretched out to a mile on Nov. 5 at Churchill Downs. The dam has produced two winners from two starters to date, and this one should be awfully tough if she is ready to go. Focused (9) comes from a solid “mud” pedigree, and has hit the board in each of the last three outs and four of the last five. She loves to close late, and that is a style that is playing well over this track this week. The workds have been very solid. Her only win to date came over the main track at Keeneland this April. Our Snowflake (10) is a huge longshot in the ML, but she could figure in this spot if the race is moved to an “off track.” Ran a really nice third, tiring late, over the slop in the last try here on Nov. 1. Shortens up a bit for this one, and could be tough to run down if she gets free on the lead. I bet the 4-9 across the board and then box the top 3 numbers in the exacta. I key the 4-9 over/under the 10-1 in two smaller versions.


10th: 1-2-8/4-5-11-12…I Am Miss Brown (1) gets a drop down in class after running a nice third over the turf at Indy Grand in the last out. In 8 previous runs over an “off track,” she has 4 seconds and a third. Trainer hits with .26% winners when getting this kind of a drop, and picks up a top rider in the saddle for the first time. Like the way this one looks. Wood Not Mind (2) has two wins and 1 third in five tries over an “off track.” Comes in off a troubled trip over the slop here on Nov. 1. Should improve with a clear run late this time out. Commercial Appeal (8) ran second last time out at this same level over the slop. Will get an aggressive rider up today, and should be OK in this spot. Will be another one closing late. I bet the 1 to win/place/show and then box the top 3 picks in the exacta.


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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