McLean’s Selections for Churchill Downs on Friday, Sept. 21

Day Results8-3-2-2
2018 Overall 1420530-520-629
Win % of Top Pick37.32%
Payoff % of Top 3 Picks Overall39.41%
Top Selection ITM / CD: 28-3971.79%
Top Selection Win / CD: 17-3943.59%

We hit the first two races at Churchill Downs on Thursday’s twilight racing schedule, and that ran our two day winning streak to 9 firsts over the last 10 races that we handicapped. Not a bad run. We ended up with three winners on the 8-race card, but we stayed a bit warm in the exactas, as well. We hit for $9.40, $18.40, and $17.80 in three races for each $1 wagered.

Here is a closer look at today’s 10-race card, which is full of mystery and maneuvering:

1st: 2/4-8-6/5-7-3…I will key on She Loves Leather (2) in the first race of the day. This one ran fifth last time out and never really got into the mix. But that was her first time over the all-weather surface up at Arlington Park, and now she returns to the traditional dirt surface, where he has a 2-5-0 record in 10 starts and has earned nearly $6,000 per race over a fast track. Drops to the basement again, where she was mighty tough as the beaten favorite two times back. Trainer hits with .56% of those making this class plunge, and with .17% of those moving back from the plastic to the dirt. My solid choice here. I bet the 2 to win/place/show and then key the 2 over/under the 4-8-6.

2nd: 2-3/1/6-5…I will focus on the top two numbers in this sequence, led by the 2YO colt Roiland (2) — who comes from the barn of Tom Amoss. Can anyone have started this meet any hotter than this barn. Three wins in the first five starters, and one of those captured a G2 Stakes by almost 20 lengths. This one is coming off a nice win at Indy Grand, where he came late. Had serious traffic issues in that stretch run, but still managed to win pretty easily. Given a cleaner trip, he wins by more. I like the switch to the meet’s top rider here and the dam of this one has two winners from two starters. My solid choice, again. Thousand Percent (3) is likely to get most of the money at the windows, though. This one is coming off a win here in June. Stalked the pace as the odds-on choice and easily put away the crowd that day. Runner-up came right back to win. Has trained well for this one and the barn hits with .18% of those moving up from the maiden win to take on winners for the first time. The horse to beat. I bet the 2 to win/place/show and then box the 2-3 solidly. I key the 2-3 over/under the 1, and then key the 2-3 over the 6-5 in smaller versions.

3rd: 3/7-1/5-6…Another key race for me, as I go solidly behind Mineyerownmalone (3). This one drops into a straight $10,000 claimer here after facing tougher in starter allowances at Indy Grand and here. Has 4 wins in 6 tries over this dirt track. That’s solid. And, will get a hot rider in the saddle today, as well. Love the work here back in late August. Looks like the one to beat in this spot as the solid ML favorite. I bet the 3 to win/place and then key the 3 over/under the 7-1. I will key the 3 over (only) the 5-6 in a smaller version.

4th: 4/8-5-9/2-1…This is another race where I truly think a horse stands out. This time it is Wicked Ekati (4), who comes from the barn of Steve Asmussen. This barn is off to a cold start to this meet, but this 2YO filly is dropping all the way from a MSW event at Ellis Park to a $20,000 claiming tag today. Trainer hits with .20% of those making this class plunge, and this one did show a bit of early run in the debut. Switch to the dirt could help, and this one’s dam has two winners from the first 3 starters. The runner-up in he career debut returned to win. Looks best of this bunch to me. I bet the 4 to win/place/show and then key the 4 over/under the 8-5-9. I key the 4 over (only) the 2-1 in a smaller version.

5th: 8/3/7-5/1-4-2…I really like and will key on Data Driven (8) in this spot today. The 6YO horse was claimed last time out at Saratoga by a trainer who scores with .32% of those making the barn debut after the purchase. This one ran second by a nose  in that last affair at “The Spa,” and the show horse that day came right back to win. This one has hit the board in the last 7 races and 9 out of the last 10. Love the work here on Sept. 1. Looks much the best to me, and is at 3-1 ML odds with the meet’s top rider in the irons. Wow. I bet the 8 to win/place/show as my “Best Bet of the Day.” I key the 8 over/under the 3. And, then I key the 8 over (only) the rest of the numbers. I def include the 8-1.

6th: 3-2/6-7/1-10/9-4…The first two numbers in this one look about the same on paper, but I give a slight edge to All American Hero (3). This one was heavily bet in the debut, but that was washed off the grass and he faded late to run third. Came back at the unorthodox Kentucky Downs in the last out, and hooked a nice one in Henley’s Joy. Was bothered at the start of that one, and appeared to take an awkward step midway though that 1-mile adventure — which is not hard to do at that course. Has come back to train very well for these connections — who have been cold all summer. I look for this one to warm up a bit today over the traditional style course, with a top grass rider in the irons. Lake Nakuru (2) out-ran his huge odds at Ellis Park last time out when making the debut. Ran second to a nice one in Pole Setter. That one came back this weekend and converted to the dirt for trainer Brad Cox and ran a really nice race in the G2 Iroquois. Don’t dismiss this one, at all. I bet the 3-2 across the board and then box those two solidly in the exacta. I key the 3-2 over/under the 6-7 in two more. I key the 3-2 over (only) the 1-10-9-4.

7th: 1/4-3-7/9…Another race where I will key on one horse. This time it will be Crimson Creed (1), who draws the rail. This one is making a huge class drop, and the trainer hits with .25% of those making this type of a plunge. She will also be converting back to the dirt, where she is bred to run. Broke her maiden over a fast dirt surface at Oaklawn Park back in March and could show some of the late speed she did in that one. Gets a top rider in the irons and is training OK for this one. I bet the 1 to win/place/show and then key the 1 over/under the 4-3-7. I will key the 1 over the 9 in a smaller version.

8th: 6/9-10/1-2-4-12-7…I really think Wild Will (6) stands out in this group for trainer Greg Foley. Trainer hits with .11% of those converting from the grass to the dirt, and in 15 lifetime starts, he has 4 seconds and 3 thirds. Many of those tries, he encountered some traffic issues. Will get a rider who nearly booted him home two back. And, I really like the lower class level for this spot today. I bet the 6 to win/place/show and then I will key the 6 over/under the 9-10. I will also key the 6 over/under — BOTH — the 1-2-4-12-7, but at a lesser rate.

9th: 1-3-5/4-6/2-7…I will focus my betting attention on the top 3 numbers in this spot, led by Unbridled Outlaw (1) — who hails from the barn of Dale Romans. This one has run in three Stakes events — two of which were Graded events — in the last four outs. Now, drops into the claiming ranks from there. Has a super work on Aug. 25 here, and does have a 1-1-2 record in 8 starts here. More impressively, though, he has a 2-1-1 record at this 6 furlong distance. Like the ML odds, and the rider is going well right now. A slight upset. Lasting Legacy (3) will be making his 2018 debut for a trainer who knows how to get the m ready off the bench. This one will be making his first start for this barn, who scores with .19% of those making the debut with the new connections. Won his first two career starts very impressively, and a return to that level will make him very tough to handle in this spot. Control Stake (5) has registered a 8-10-5 record in 30 starts, and has won nearly $500,000 in purses to date. In 5 starts this year, he has 3 seconds and 2 thirds. Hard not to use, right? I bet the 1-3 across the board and then box the top 3 numbers in one exacta. I key the top 3 over the next four in a smaller version.

10th: 2/5-3-10/9-1-8…We will close out today’s card with a nice grass event for the 2YOs. And, my “Best Bet of the Day.” I will key on Tez (2) — at a nice 4-1 ML price — from the barn of Tom Amoss. This 2YO son of The Factor ran a really nice one despite all obstacles, banging and knocking at Indy Grand on Aug. 29. Looked much the best, but just couldn’t find the right spot. Today, he gets a really huge rider switch to Florent Geroux, and that could mean all the difference. This one comes from a Stakes Winning mare, who has 3 winners from 5 starters. Cost $130,000 at Keeneland September a year ago. My solid pick. I bet the 2 to win/place/show and then key the 2 over/under the 5-3-10. I will key the 2 over (only) the 9-1-8 in a much smaller version.

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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