McLean’s Selections for Churchill Downs on Friday, Sept. 27

Day Results8-4-1-5
2019 Overall 987987/355-344-458
Win % of Top Pick35.97%
Payoff % of Top 3 Picks Overall39.07%
2019 Top Pick in the Money –667 of 98767.58%
Top Selection ITM / CD 35/5959.32%
Top Selection Win / CD 22/5937.29%
“Key Horses” @ CD 6-4-0-066.67%
“Key Horses” in 2019 172-69-34-2040.12%

We had a very nice Thursday night at the ole’ ball yard — that we like to call Churchill Downs.

Out of the 8 races carded, we had 4 winners — including our “Upset Special of the Day” that returned a total of $21.40 for each $2 played across the board.

Out of the 8 races, too, we had 6 exactas that returned $18.40, $9.50, $28.30, $14.80, $7.80 and $23.10 for each $1 played.

Not a bad night.

Here’a look at our picks for Friday:

1st: 3-11-12/9-5-1/2-10-4-6…This is a MCL event at the $10,000 price tag level. There’s an abundance of under-achievers and class droppers in this 11/16-mile event. I will give the slight edge to my first “Upset Special of the Day” and Cowboys Dream (3), who is listed at 8-1 in the ML. This will be the first time that the 3YO Warrior’s Reward colt is dropping into the claiming ranks. Out of 14 starts, has only 1 second and 1 third. But the barn does score with .21% of those switching from the turf to the main track, and with .15% of those dropping in class for the first time. Ran 3rd here on June 9 over a sloppy main track, when the race was moved off the sod. Gaia’s Doublelatte (11) drops from the $30,000 price tag to the $10,000 level today. Barn hits with .20% when running a route for the 2nd time. This one cost $350,000 to buy, and is now being offered up for $10,000. Ran 4th on debut, and should move up with the lighter group today. Centsmybabyleftme (12) gets class relief, too. Was off from December to September, and then caught a sloppy track up at Saratoga. Now, gets another drop and will try the first fast dirt today. Barn hits with .41% of those that get this kind of class drop. I bet the 3-12 across the board and then box the top 3 in the exacta. I will key the 3-12 over (only) the 11-9-5-1-2-10 in a smaller version.

2nd: 3-4-10/1-7-6/8…Another wide, wide, wide open affair for this MCL event that is priced at the $20,000 level. These will contest the 7.5-furlongs in this spot, and I will give a slight edge to Tauber (3), who hails from the barn of trainer Steve Asmussen. Will be dropping from the $30,000 tag to the $20,000 level here, and was beaten just 21/2 lengths last time out. Moves to the dirt, and the barn hits with .22% of those making this kind of surface switch. Barn also hits with .29% of those that go from a sprint race to a route race and back to a sprint distance. Like the work on Sept. 11 at Ellis Park. Gets the barn’s top rider up. Direct Approach (4) will move from the turf to the dirt, as well. And, this 3YO gelded son of Congrats drops from $32,000 to the $20,000 tag today. If he can run a similar race today that he has shown in the past two, he should be right there at the end. Packed House (10) is a NY-bred who will be facing open company for the first time since he ran here in May of 2018. Was third in that career debut. Gets a new trainer for the first time today, and the barn hits with .13% of those making the barn debut. Has shown some speed in the past. I bet the 3 to win/place/show and then box the top 3 in one exacta. I will key the 3 over/under all the numbers listed in two smaller versions.

3rd: 2-5/4-1-6…Peruvian Appeal (2) ran 3rd in the G3 Victory Ride Stakes two races back at Belmont Park. Hooked some good ones in the past, and has 2 wins and a third in 3 starts here. Love the work here on Sept. 22, and looks primed for a good one. Into Trouble (5) has raced only once since July 12, and that was a nice 2nd over the turf at Ellis Park on Sept. 2. The grass there, though, was so dry and hard that it served like a main dirt track race, too. Barn hits with .21% of those returning as a beaten favorite, and this one picks up the meet’s leading rider. Nearly won on her two starts back. Should press the pace from the get-go. I bet the 2 to win/place/show and then box the 2-5 in one exacta. I will key the 2 over/under the 5-4-1-6 in two smaller versions.

4th: 11-12-2/(13)-3-8/1-10-6-4…I’ll go to the far outside to try and wrangle a winner in this one. Cajun Firecracker (11) is a 3YO Florida-bred who will be making only his second start this year and first one since winning easily at Prairie Meadows back in June. Has been working well for the return. When he does make the gate, he runs well. In 7 lifetime starts, this one has a 3-1-1 mark. Ran a tough-beat second to Long Range Toddy in the Clever Trevor Stakes at Remington Park last November. Has class when right. Surge Pricing (12) has never been on dirt in the first 4 starts, but has 2 wins to the credit line. Worked very well before the last out, and will be getting his second start for the barn after the claim two races ago. Barn hits with .25% when running a horse for the second time. I bet the 11 to win/place/show and then box the top 3 numbers in the exacta. I will key the 11-2 over/under the 12-(13)-3-8-1-10 in two smaller versions.

5th: 9-10-4/3-2-7-11/12-8-6…Another wide open affair, but I will go back outside and key up with a couple of the wide runners — led by Grade One (9). This one ran a solid race last time out before tiring late and finishing 5th of 12. Gets class relief from that one, but the $61-to-1 odds shows that he may have run over his head in that one, too. Ran well here over the slop on May 31. Trainer hits with .31% with those making the 3rd start off the layup. In 4 previous runs here, has a second and a third. He’s Stylish (10) is coming off 4 straight tries over the sod. Barn hits with .17% of those switching from the sod to the main track. Last time here and running over the dirt, this one ran 3rd against MSW company and a good winner. Barn hits with .29% when running these types in the claiming ranks for the first time. I bet the 10 — take note — to win/place/show and then box the top 3 numbers in the exacta. I will key the 9-10 over/under the 4-3-2-7-11-12 in two smaller versions.

6th: 9-6-1/2-5-8/3-7-4-10…Trainer Larry Rivelli has had a terrific year, winning with .34% of the 331 starters that he has saddled. He could pick up another winner’s circle tour of duty after this one, too, with Moon Over Montana (9). This 5YO son of Spring At Last comes in off a win and has hit the board in 4 of the last 5 outings. Drops off the win, and the barn hits with .30% of those kind. Picks up a top rider for the tour of duty. This one has done most of his damage over the all-weather surfaces, but look at his “fast dirt” record of 2-2-2 in 7 starts. Versatile sort, with gas. Create Again (6) is another who likes to motor it from the gate. Has raced 5 times over the fast dirt, and has a win and 3 thirds. Will return as a beaten fav today, and the barn hits with .28% of those. Should appreciate the drop in class for this one. I bet the 9-6 across the board and then box the top 3 numbers in the exacta. I will key the 9-6 over/under the 1-2-5-8-3-7 in two smaller versions.

7th: 8-9-1/10-3-2/11-4…This is a well-balanced grass race that will be contested over the 1-mile distance, and I will lean to the outside and against the “all speed” types just a bit. Coach Rocks (8) has never won a race over the sod. And, she does love the front end. A lot. On the dirt. But she has been running longer and against much, much tougher. I would not be shocked if she takes back a bit in this one and lays off what could be a considerable pace up front. Won’t be back much, with a clean break. Gets a rider who won with her here on June 23. Won by 5 that day. Stalked the leaders and pounced going 11/16-miles over the slop. She figures in this one. Vagabond Princess (9) is coming off a real nice run in the G3 Mint Julep last time out, too. She’s another stalker. Been facing tougher. In 20 races over the grass, she has compiled a 3-5-3 mark. Ran up against Moms On Strike in the last. Gave it up late. Could be tough at this distance at some nice odds. Daddy’s Boo (1) has raced 26 times on the grass with an amazing record of 14-6-1. Loves the front end. Has to have the front end. And, from the rail? Has to go. Right now. Enough speed in here to keep her real honest on the front end. May be able to hold on to part late, but I like my first two pick’s credentials. I bet the 8-9 across the board and then box the top 3 numbers in the exacta. I will key the top 3 over (only) the next three in a smaller version.

8th: 12-13-5/2/1-3-11/8-9-4…A MSW event for the 2YOs going the sprint distance of 6.5-furlongs. Another well-balanced field and wide open for the betting public. Hit the winner and runner-up here? Cash galore. I will go to the far outside and land on Atoka (12). This son of Union Rags cost $190,000 as a Fasig-Tipton October Yearling a year ago, and ran his eyeballs out on debut at Saratoga on Aug. 3. Was nipped at the wire after leading by nearly 4 in the stretch. Came back and hooked a monster field in the next out 21 days later. Gets a month off now, and may be recharged. Has speed to jump and go and like the rider switch. Miguel Mena is one of the best kept secrets in the riding community and knows how to finish. Bango (13) ran a huge one last time out here on Sept. 14. Nearly won that day before tiring late, as well. Shortens up a bit for this one and that may help conserve a little front end energy today. Hometown Pride (5) will be making his third start, as well. Should be sitting on a “go” performance in this one for trainer Ian Wilkes. Barn likes to race into final shape and the jockey has teamed up with this barn to go 3-1-0 in the last 8 starts. Nice. I bet the 12 across the board and then box the top 3 in the exacta. I will key the top 3 over/under the 1-2 in two smaller versions.

9th: 1-3-6/2-5/4…A compact field of 3YOs, many of whom have been running against Graded Stakes company for much of the year. Some of whom are cutting back to the sprint distance after trying longer. All of whom’s connections would love to snatch the winner’s share of this $99,000 purse. I will go to the rail and Manny Was (1). Would have rather been a bit farther out in the gate, but this one is likely to find a nice stalking position with the cut back in distance. Has run this distance once before and was second. Ran a nice 2nd in the Sugar Bowl Handicap at the Fair Grounds at 6 furlongs. May be coming late. Frolic More (3) is a come-from-behind closer who may fit right into this distance perfectly. Has a second in only try before. Love the race two back when closing like a monster against a solid winner. Will be rushing late under the meet’s top rider. Dugout (6) is a NY-bred speedster who may try to steal this one on the lead. Trainer having another super year, winning at a .34% clip. Gets a rider that can speed them away from the gate. Come catch me. I bet the 1-3 across the board and then box the top 3 numbers in the exacta.

10th: 5-6-12/4-2/9-7-10-1…The last race of the day will be a turf event contested at the endurance distance of 11/8-miles. Nice field assembled, and I will land on Kid Lemuel (5), a 3YO son of Ice Box and trained by Eddie Kenneally. Ran in a big Stakes at KY Downs last time out. Held his own without challenging at the end. Race 3 back was on the dirt here, and ran a huge one. Broke the maiden the race before over the grass here, too. Ran a nice second to Henley’s Joy last year. Talent here. Armchair Jockey (6) nearly pulled off the upset at KY Downs last time out. Came rolling way late, with a ton of run. Longer distance could suit this one just fine. Ran for $12,500 earlier this year. Interesting. I expect big things from Bila Shak (12), despite the awful post. This one will make the NA debut today, with the addition of Lasix, and the barn hits with .21% of those shipping in. Trainer also does well with newcomers, scoring with .28% of those making the barn debut. Training very nicely for this one. Distance will be no issue. Gets one of the best grass riders around to take the job. I bet the 5-12 (Take Note) across the board and then box the top 3 in the exacta. I will key the 5-12 over/under the 6-4-2-9-7 in two smaller versions.

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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