McLean’s Selections for Churchill Downs on Friday, Nov. 8

Day Results10-6-3-3
2019 Overall 1,2741,274/448-457-571
Win % of Top Pick35.16%
Payoff % of Top 3 Picks Overall38.62%
2019 Top Pick in the Money –836 of 1,27465.62%
Top Selection ITM / CD Nov 53-8165.43%
Top Selection Win / CD Nov 32-8139.51%
“Key Horses” @ CD Nov 15/7-3-046.67%
“Key Horses” in 2019 204-79-40-2238.73%

What a nice day at the big oval, despite the rain drops that kept falling on my head.

We had 6 winners in the 10 races, and nailed each of the last 4 to capture the final Pick 4, and the last Pick 3, along the way.

Had winners return $11.20, $20.60, $18.40, $10.20, $15.40, and $8 in those 6 wins for each $2 played across the board.

Had exactas that returned $18.60, $49.00, $10.50, $11.80, $30.80 and $5.20 for each $1 played.

So?

A nice day. Even if it was a bit soggy.

Here’s a closer look at the Friday card. Should be a little drier. Should be a lot sunnier. Let’s hope it’s just as successful.

1st: 4-8/6-5/1-7-3/2…Italian Charm (4) gets a huge drop in class for this one off a less-than-impressive performance last time out. Will have the price tag cut in half today for a barn that claimed this one for $25,000 four starts back. Has a tendency to run a good one; then a poor one; then a good one again. Is ready for a good one now. Like the work here on Nov. 3. Gets the same rider back as last out. In 4 previous runs here, has a win and 2 thirds. Should fit against these. Strut the Box (8) was claimed last time out for $50,000. Now, nearly 8 months later, he shows up for $16,000 price tag. In 7 previous runs here, has 2 wins and 2 seconds. Barn hits with .21% of those that return from this kind of a layup. Works have been OK for the return. Rider has hit with 15% of the last 27 mounts for this barn over the last 60 days. Beware here. I bet the 4-8 across the board and then box those two in the exacta. I will key the 4-8 over/under the rest of the numbers listed in two smaller versions.

2nd: 7-4-1/3/5-6-2/8…Righteous Ruby (7) comes to town for a NY-based trainer who knows how to find the winner’s circle. Has won with .23% of the 225 starters this year. Has won with .25% of 178 “shippers.” Has won with .28% of those that go from a sprint event to a route race. This one didn’t fire a lick last time out, but has worked very well since that run and looks very well spotted here. Watch out. Alizee (4) goes from turf to dirt and this barn hits with .29% of those making this surface switch. Worked a hole in the wind on Sept. 5 here. Has not run back to that last work, though. Gets back to a rider that she may like a bit better. Won for this jockey in February. Lucky Visit (1) was claimed last time out, when she won for the second straight time. Moves way up in class for this one today for a barn that wins with .18% of those making the first start for the new connections. Loses the meet’s top rider for this one. Don’t understand that call. I bet the 7 to win/place/show and then key the 7 over/under all the numbers listed. I will box the top 3 in a smaller box.

3rd: 4-11/3-10-1/2-5…Predator (4) is coming off a nice debut run at KEE on Oct. 13. Tired and lost as the odds-on favorite that day, but has returned to work very well for a top barn operation. Gets the same rider back, and should improve greatly in this outing. Rider has a 4-2-1 mark in the last 16 rides, and the barn hits with .31% of those returning as a beaten favorite. Looks formidable here. Baudette Blizzard (11) ran two huge ones up at Indy Grand before the last time outing. Tired in that one. Shortens up for this spot today, and that could help immensely. Barn hits with .10% of those away from the races for this period of time. Look for more today. I bet the 4 to win/place/show and then box the 4-11 in one exacta. I will key the 4-11 over/under the rest of the numbers in two smaller versions.

4th: 6-4-2/1/8-5…Ready and Rich (6) is 2-1 in the ML, and may be a bit underpriced at that level. But this 3YO colt by Super Saver is coming off a win last time out and this barn wins with .09% of those facing winners for the first time. Nice work here on Oct. 23. Top rider sticks in the saddle. Since losing the blinkers three starts back, this one has gotten better. Creme de Cerise (4) goes for a trainer I have never heard of and know zero about. Ships in here today from the Chicago area and will need to run the best race of his life to compete against these kind. But he is working very well and has faced some better ones in the past. Interesting to see what this one has in the saddle. Miracle Hill (2) won last time out, like our top choice, and now will have to face winners for the first time, as well. Gets a top rider to take the reins for the first time, and this one does have a win here in 3 lifetime performances over this strip. Son of Curlin should love this distance, and the work on Nov. 4 was spot on. I can’t leave out of this one, either. I bet the 6-2 across the board and then box the top 3 in one exacta. I will key the top 3 numbers over/under the 1 in two smaller versions.

5th: 8-2-6/(15)-9-7/10-3/4-5…Gold Star Mama (8) is definitely going to be the “name favorite” for my good friend Ed DeRosa. Ed is a chilly man, and this is as good a place for some home spun chilly as any in the area. But the 3YO Medaglia d’Oro has more than a name to support her. She has some game, too. Has run two straight seconds over the grass down at Ellis Park. Lost both of those by a combined 3/4-length. Barn hits with .28% of those that return as a beaten favorite. Gets the debut rider back. And, the dam of this one has 5 winners from the first 8 starters — including a turf winner and a Stakes winner. My choice. Joy of Learning (2) could spice up the odds rack here with a solid run. this 3YO daughter of Kitten’s Joy should relish this track today, and gets one of the best grass rides in the world. The work on Oct. 21 at KEE was sparkling. I use. Newellton (6) is another possible upset target. This one — who is 6-1 in the ML — is another on-again, off-again type. It’s her turn to show up today. Love the use of blinkers last time out. Def use this one, for me. I bet the 8-2 across the board and then box the top 3 in the exacta. I will key the 8 over/under all the numbers in two smaller versions.

6th: 5-6/1-3-7/2-9-11/8-4…Delinquent (5) will be making the third start off a layoff, and this barn hits with .27% of those kind. But, more importantly, this one gets a huge class drop today, as well. Barn scores with a whopping .46% of those getting this kind of class relief. Look for this one to be coming late, and may be too much to hold off in the final strides. Square the Circle (6) is 6-1 in the ML and may offer some real value at PT. I can toss the last one, when she was stretched out to 7 furlongs and simply tired from all the hard work early on. Two races back, this one was mighty tough against tougher. Has a second in only previous run here and has a win in two starts at this distance. I bet the 5-6 across the board and then box those two in the exacta. I will key the 5-6 over/under all the numbers listed. But…please read this…I definitely use the 7 in all of my bets — whether they are horizontal (Pick 3, Pick 4, Pick 5) or vertical (Exacta, Trifecta). Could be the huge longshot of the day. Same trainer hit with a 69-1 shot on Wednesday. And, I used that one, too. Just writing.

7th: 6/1-3-11-5/(13)-12/4-2-10…Lucky Curlin (6) is my first Key Play of the Day. This 2YO son of Curlin comes into this one with three straight 3rd-place finishes. But look at who this one has been facing. Tough. Comes in here as a beaten favorite, and the barn hits with .26% of them. Gets a huge jockey change, and I think this rider will be able to milk him all the way to the wire today. I bet the 6 to win/place and then key the 6 over/under all the numbers listed in the exactas.

8th: 2-11/3-10-1/8/7-6-5/4…Bean (2) comes into this one off a nice second over the all-weather surface up at Presque Isle on Oct. 10. Winner that day came right back to win again, and this one was favored in that race. The barn has hit with .31% out of the 375 runners they have saddled this year. They win with .33% of those returning to the starting gate as a beaten favorite. Broke the maiden on debut on Sept. 20 by nearly 8 lengths. Will get dirt for the first time today, but this one worked a bullet over the dirt in Chicago on Nov. 3. Watch out here. Big effort could explode off the screen. Turtle Trax (11) comes into this one off a win last time out at KEE for trainer Ian Wilkes. This barn scores with .19% of those stepping up to face winners for the first time. Top rider takes the reins back. Sharp work here on Nov. 3, too. Adds up for me. I bet the 2-11 across the board and then box those two in the exacta. I will key the 2-11 over/under the 3-10-1-8 in two smaller versions.

9th: 9-8/10-(11)-(15)-1/2-4/5-3-6…Patriot Drive (9) should be very salty in this spot today. The 5YO gelding has hit the board in each of the last 6 tries, and three of them were wins. In 27 starts, he has a resume of 6-6-5 record. Gets a new rider in the irons today, and that should help this one immensely, too. This guy is riding as good as anybody in the country right now. Look for a super performance out of this one today. Secretary At War (8) comes from a top barn operation, and has a record of 2-1-2 in 7 starts at this distance. This won of War Front looks to be perfectly slotted in this spot today, and may be very tough to hold off from what could be a perfect stalking position. Rider had 3 wins on Thursday, too. I bet the 9-8 across the board and then box those two solidly in one exacta. I will key the 9-8 over/under the 10-1-2-4-5 in two smaller versions. I use the 11-15 if either get in from the AE list.

10th: 1-12-5/9-11-10-4-6/8-3-2…The finale today is a 11/16-mile event over the main track for the claiming price of $20,000. I will go right to the rail and land on Take That for Data (1) in this one. Comes from the barn of Brad Cox, who could sweep the late daily double. This one had a very nice work on Nov. 2 up at Indy Grand. Comes in off a 4th place finish when sent off as the PT favorite. Barn hits with .30% of those dropping into the claiming ranks for the first time. Barn hits with .25% of those switching from the turf to the dirt. And, the barn scores with .31% of those returning as a beaten favorite. Adds up for me. I bet the 1 to win/place/show and then box the top 3 numbers in the exacta. I will key the 1-12 over/under the 5-9-11-10-4-6 in two smaller versions. Also, I will box the 1-12 in another solid number.

Good Luck & All the Best / Gene

(Comments to Come)

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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