McLean’s Selections for Churchill Downs on Saturday, June 23

Day Results9-5-4-4
Churchill306-105-105-153
Top Pick Win %34.30%
Top Pick ITM % 195-29865.40%
Payoff % of Top 3 Picks at CD39.50%
2018 Overall 895330-337-397
Win % of Top Pick36.90%
Payoff % of Top 3 Picks Overall39.60%

We had a wonderful Friday, coming up with 5 winners in the 9 race card. Our win percentage with our top pick this meet is up to .34.30%, and our top pick has hit the board on 65.4% of the time. Both are meet highs. We will try to keep the ball and the money rolling today, with a wonderful card slated for today. Here’s a closer look:

1st: 4-5-6-3-1A…Prados Way (4) is a pupil of the Steve Asmussen barn, which leads the trainer’s standings going into the final few days of this Spring/Summer meet. This one has run three seconds in a row and looked to be a winner last time out here in the slop when dropped to this level for the first time. Trainer hits with .26% of those returning after losing as the favorite last time out. Gets my first Best Bet of the Day designation. Kahramani (5) gets the huge class drop from $20,000 price tag down to $8,000. Trainer scores with .38% with those that drop this quickly, this far. Ran third against much tougher two starts back as the odds-on favorite at Keeneland. Dangerous. Rock Shandy (6) ran a game second two starts back at this distance, and the winner of that one has already returned to win again. A really nice work over at the Churchill Downs training center on June 17. Versatile sort can close or run closer to the lead. I bet the 4 to win/place/show and then box the top 3 in the exacta.

2nd: 1-4-3-7-5…Cloak of Secrecy (1) has run three seconds in a row and has hit the board in 4 of the first 5 career starts. Gets a great rider switch for this one, and should be tough as the beaten favorite in this spot for a trainer that scores with .29% of those returning from a loss as the fan’s choice. Rail is winning at .19% clip at this distance (www.brisnet.com Stat of the Day). Looks solid here at 7-5 ML odds. Gentle Ruler (4) has hit the board in 3 of 6 starts to date, and comes in off the 2018 debut that nearly turned into a winner. Closed from far back in that tilt to lose by only 1 length. Trainer having a nice meet and hits with .11% of those running the second time off this type of a layup. Bless the Rains (3) didn’t run a step in the debut run, but was not ready at the start that day and lost all chance. The work at Keeneland on June 9 suggests that she is much better than that performance indicates, and new rider gets up today. I bet the 1-4 across the board and then box those two solidly in one exacta. I key the top 2 over the rest in a smaller version.

3rd: 2-1-5-3-4…Wide open affair here, but I go with a filly that I have had on my “Horses to Watch List” all spring in Nineteenth Street (2). The trainer is having a tough meet getting to the winner’s circle, with just 1-for-18 record. But he does have 3 seconds and 6 thirds on the resume. This one ran third last time you, and now stretches out to 7 furlongs. Should like the extra distance, and does have a super nice work here on June 16. Dangerous. Toasted (1) will be making the 2018 debut for a top trainer, who hits with .14% with those coming off this type of a layup. Worked well on June 19 at the training center, and the rail is yielding .20% winners at this distance. Very capable. Misleading Lady (5) gets a new trainer today for the first time, after getting dropped into a claiming event for the first time last out. She won that one, and nows bumps up in class. New trainer is having a nice meet with 11-for-37 winners. I bet the 2 to win/place/show and then box the top 3 numbers in the exacta.

4th: 9-6-7-3-5-4-8…Another wide open race, but I settle on La Maquina Gris (9) for the top spot. This one has had plenty of previous chances to break the maiden condition, but is 0-for-11. Does have a couple of seconds and two more thirds to show, and has hit the board in three of the last four races. Drops down a couple of rungs in the claiming ladder today, and that may propel this one to victory. Baytown Lex (6) gets the blinkers for the first time today, and returns as a beaten favorite. The trainer has had no luck with the addition of the shades (0-for-8), but does hit with .25% of those returning after losing as the betting choice. Returns to the dirt, and this one did show show run last Spring as a 2YO, when he compiled a couple of seconds over at Keeneland. Looks like he may be back now. Jimmy Joe (7) drops out of the MSW ranks for the first time today, and the trainer hits with .11% with those kind. Had a super nice work here on June 16, and looks like he may have a bit more run with a new rider up today. I bet the 9 to win/place/show and then box the top 3 in one exacta. I key the top 3 over the rest of the numbers listed in a smaller version.

5th: 5-2-1-8-9-4…Most Mischief (5) goes for a top young trainer, who hits with .20% of those making the first career start. This one worked very well here on June 16, and has the breeding to run well early on. Meet’s top rider gets the call, and I like the 5-1 ML odds here. Bano Solo (2) cost $400,000 this March at a 2YO Sale, and the dam has 1 winner from 1 starters. Solid work here on June 17, which goes together with other strong morning moves here this Spring. Trainer leads the meet, and hits with .17% of first time starters. The one to beat. Mr Midtown (1) goes for a trainer who has just one win in 30 starts this meet. But he is due, and the rail has produced .40% winners at this distance during this meet. The dam of this one has 5 winners from 9 starters — but has produced two SWs so far. The trainer hits with .23% with 2YOs. Don’t leave out of your mix at 10-1 ML odds. Look at work on May 25. I bet the 5-2 across the board and then box the top 3 numbers in the exacta. I key the top 3 over the rest of the numbers listed in a smaller version.

6th: 4-6-3-2-5-7…I concentrate on the top two numbers in this sequence. Pinch Hit (4) comes from the barn of Brad Cox, who has heated up to a solid win percentage of .27% this meet. This one drops down into the allowance company for the first time after running in four straight Stakes events and two Graded Stakes races in a row. Should like the class relief she gets today, and I love the breeding on this one. Super work on June 17. Adds up to the second Best Bet of the Day, right here. Champagne Problems (6) will get her third start off a layup, and the trainer hits with .17% of those types. This one did run second in the Dogwood Stakes here a year ago, and had a bullet work at Keeneland on June 15. This daughter of Ghostzapper could be a force in here. Promises of Spring (3) was just nipped in the last try here on May 24, and now stretches out another furlong. That added distance should help this stalker, and does have a win over this track and at this distance. I bet the 4 to win/place/show and then key the 4 over/under the 6-3-2 in one exacta. I key the 4 over (only) all of the numbers listed.

7th: 1A-6-3-1-5-2-4…Shoreline (1A) ran a nice third last time out for the Asmussen barn, which handles this son of The Factor for owner W.S. Parish. Has returned from that run to train well here, and now shortens up a bit for this try. That should help this one a bit, too. Trainer does score with .19% of those in the MSW ranks. Traveling Midas (6) gets a new rider after a debacle over at Keeneland on April 14. Contended on the front end of that two turn race and just caved at the end. This one has trained much better for this try, and should rebound to the level previously shown. Ran third to Hofburg two starts back. Remember him? Fox Red (3) is a first time starter for a trainer who just went out on his own this Spring. Has had a good meet here with a 3-2-1 record in just 11 starts. The work on June 16 suggests this one can run some. I bet the 1A-1 across the board hoping that both parts of the entry can hit the board. I then box the top three numbers in the exacta.

8th: 4-5-2-3-1-6…Chocolate Ride (4) really should have own the last time out at Indy, in the 2018 debut. Was an even-money favorite that day and was “asked” for a late run. Didn’t get the job done and that is bothersome, especially since this guy is now an 8YO. But the trainer does hit with .27% of those making the second start off this kind of layoff, and this one has returned to work OK, as well. Has the back class to run well in this spot, and has a win and a second over this grass course. Jockey has been very hot (4-2-0 in last 14 mounts) over the last week. Sham (5) has hit the board in five of the last six races, but this one loves to run second or third. Career wise has a 3-7-3 record in just 20 starts. So what do you do? Wheel underneath, of course. Tweet Kitten (2) will be making the second career start for the new trainer and should be much stronger today after getting a race on April 25 — which was his guy’s first race in over 2 years. The works since have been solid. I bet the 4-5 across the board and then box the top 3 numbers in one exacta.

9th: 3-2-4-7-9-1-6…I focus on the top two numbers in this one, led by Crosswalk (3) — whom I love. And, I make the third Best Bet of the Day. This one prefers the pure sprint distance, and gets back to that distance today after trying a mile over a sloppy racetrack last time out. The winner of that one got away on the front end, and this one had no chance to run him down. Now, comes back as a beaten favorite, and I love the way he has been training. Note: move on June 18 here. Love, love, love this one trained by my good friend Neil Howard. Barry Lee (2) is 15-1 ML odds, and I love that, too. This one got tired in the 2018 debut, and now should have more stamina. Super works since the race, and the trainer scores with .29% of those making the second start off this kind of layup. Can make a nice late run, and my Upset Special should make for a nice exacta in this spot. I bet the 3 to win/place/show and then box the 3-2 solidly in one exacta. I key the 3-2 over the rest of the numbers in a smaller version.

10th: 3-7-5-6-1-2…Roxelana Stakes…Tough, tough, tough field match up in this Stakes sprint for fillies and mares. I am going to try to beat the favorite with Vertical Oak (3), who comes into this one off a nice win in a Stakes up at Pimlico on Preakness Day. That was her second start of the year, and she motored away on a track that was favoring speedy types. But there is a concern here. Of the 6 wins that this one has, 3 of them have come over an “off track.” Is she the same type of filly on a dry, fast surface? I don’t know, but I am willing to give her a shot to say “Yes.” Miss Kentucky (7) has never been better. She has two wins in a row and three in the last four races. She really dominated the G3 Winning Colors Stakes here on May 26, pulling away at the end of win by nearly a length. Has returned to work very well (June 9). Has 3 wins and a second in 6 starts over this home track. Wow. Annathela (5) is another from the barn of Rusty Arnold, and I can’t dismiss her, either. She loves to hit the board and she may be good enough to split the top two in this one. Love the 12-1 odds. I bet the 3-5 across the board and then box the top 3 numbers in the exacta.

11th: 9-1-2-8-5-4-3-7…A wide, wide, wide open race to finish the day. Got a dart? I finally land on Grade One (9) in this spot. Ran in the slop last time after rains washed the race off the grass, but was second. The time before, in the first try on turf, he was second again. The winner of that one has already returned to win. Nice work here on June 18, and this trainer is too good to finish the meet without a win. Extricate (1) cost $1.1 million as a Keeneland September Yearling. Has only won $53,000 to date. But may find a new niche if he can convert to the grass sprint specialty. I give him a shot. Seize (2) is one that trainer Christophe Clement has dumped in the lap of young trainer Tom Drury. The new trainer does well with these kind, though, and has won with .21% of those making the debut for the barn. Nice work in April down at Payson Park. I definitely use. I bet the 9 to win/place/show and then box the top 3 numbers in one exacta. I key the 9 over/under all the numbers listed in two more smaller versions.

Good Luck & All the Best/Gene

He ran well. I thought turning for home I got ’em. And that horse just kept fighting. It was pretty close. I couldn’t really tell because of the angles here, but he ran well.”

Joel Rosario, Rider of the runner-up White Flag
  • 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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