McLean’s Selections for Churchill Downs on Saturday, Nov. 10

Day Results9-1-2-5
2018 Overall 1685619-603-744
Win % of Top Pick36.74%
Payoff % of Top 3 Picks Overall38.90%
Top Selection ITM / CD Nov 35-6355.56%
Top Selection Win / CD Nov 18-6328.60%
“Key Horses” @ CD Nov: 15-5-3-133.33%

It has been a little rough sledding since the Breeders’ Cup weekend of seven days ago. Rain, cool and damp weather has turned the conditions tough and the track muddy for much of this week. And, the upsets? Well, they have been more long shots winning than the favorites, that’s for sure. So, handicapping has been a tough chore for a few days.

So, we will try to right the ship today. And, here’s a closer look at today’s card:

1st: 5-6-3/1-4-2/7…Belleinthecity (5) gets the slight edge in the inaugural event on Saturday. This City Zip filly has run two good ones in a row, including one over the sloppy going here two starts back. Came running at the end of that 6.5 furlong event, but ran out of ground before she got to the finish line. Has some solid works going in the a.m., too, and the barn hits with .26% of those making the third start off a layup. Might be her time here. Awesome Figure (6) ran a good one on debut at Keeneland on Oct. 19. Tired in the late going in that one, but the barn does much better with second career starts — winning with .13% clip. This one does have a nice work here on Nov. 3, and looks to improve off a good first try. Urban Insight (3) is the 8-5 ML favorite for this one, and should be, considering that she ran second and was beaten just a nose in the last out. That was the first start since May, though, and sometimes these kind can regress on the second out off a layup. This barn hits with only .08% of those making the second start back. Has a really nice work at Keeneland since the last race, though. Should be a tough out, and the pedigree supports a good try over an “off track.” I bet the 5-6 across the board and then box the top 3 numbers in the exacta.

2nd: 5/2-9/3-7-8-1…I will go with my first Key Play of the Day in this one. Don’t Stop Maria (5) comes from the barn of Brad Cox, who is having a rather cold meet here this Fall. This one, though, is dropping down from $20,000-claiming all the way to the $8,000 level. The barn hits with .31% of those making this big of a class plunge, and with .32% of those returning to the races for the first time after being defeated as the betting favorite. Love the work at High Point on Nov. 5. And, this one does have a second in her only start over this track. Should be tough at this level today. I bet the 5 to win/place/show and then key the 5 over/under the 2-9. I will key the 5 over (only) th 3-7-8-1 in a smaller version.

3rd: 5-3-4/1/2-6-8…Intonation (5) will get a slight edge in this spot. The 2YO colt by Into Mischief will slip down the racing ladder today and drop back into the claiming ranks. Two races back, this one won easily for a $20,000 price tag and was claimed by the new connections. The barn does not claim many, but this one should fit with a return to this level. Ran competitively against much tougher here on Oct. 28. Now, back in just 12 days later. Deano (3) looks to be the horse to beat in this spot. Trainer is red hot right now, and gets a huge rider switch for this one. The training session on Nov. 2 was very solid and two races back this one won. The barn has a 4-0-0 record in the last 11 starts over the past two weeks. Dangerous. Sambucca (4) won easily last time out at Keeneland. Now, moves up to face winners for the first time. The barn hits with .14% of those graduating and moving up. Could be a threat. I bet the 5-3 across the board and then box the top three numbers in the exacta. I will also key the top 3 numbers over/under the 1, as well.

4th: 3-(14)-9-7/8-(12)1A-1/4-5-10…This one is scheduled to be the first turf event of the day, but don’t be surprised to find out that this one has been shifted off the green stuff and moved to the dirt stuff by post time. If so, look for a lot of scratches and see who is coming off the AE List to draw into this event. No matter what happens, I will go with Irish Intuition (3). This one has run well over both a firm grass course, or a sloppy main track so far in the first 5 career starts. She has a second and a third in those starts. Got Lasix two starts back, and this daughter of Exchange Rate has been a much different horse since getting the therapeutic medication. Ran second two starts back on the firm turf, and then ran a closing third over the slop at Keeneland last time out. The pedigree shows that she should be able to run over an “off track,” and the barn gets its’ new go-to rider in the saddle. Beware here. Drinking Dixie (14) would be a serious contender the daughter of Quality Road draws in for the MTO appearance. This one cost $150,000 as a Keeneland September Yearling last year, and has faced some good ones in the first two. Could be tough today, if she gets in. If not, I will slip right down my pecking order to the Le Moine (9) and Holly Molly Dolly (7). Both of these 2YO fillies have a real shot to upset the cart in this one. The former is coming off a huge effort before tiring late at Keeneland on Oct. 5. The latter is a first timer starter for the barn of Brad Cox, who hits with .26% of those making the first start over the grass. This one is stacked to be a nice “off track” runner, too, based on the pedigree numbers. I bet the 3-9 across the board and then box the top 3 numbers in the exacta. I will key the 3 over/under the 8-(12)-1A-1, in a smaller version.

5th: 5-2-3/1-7-8…I will spread out here a bit, too. I will give a slight edge to Altito (5), who comes into this one as the 2-1 ML favorite. This 4YO gelding by Bernardini didn’t run very well over the grass last time out at Keeneland. But if you go past that race, he does have a nice record of late — having hit the board in the previous 7 races. Has three wins in that mix, too. Looks to be in fine form for this effort. Memphisinmay (2) is an Indiana-bred gelding, who didn’t run well in his last race either. Before that, though, he had hit the board in five of the previous six. Had three wins in that mix, as well. Picks up a rider who won on this one three starts back at this oval, and in 17 races at this distance, he has a record of 4-3-4. Surprise Prize (3) has either been first or second in each of the last four races. Has two wins and two seconds in those events. Ran second to our top pick here on Sept. 28. This one returns to the races as a beaten favorite, and the barn scores with .27% of those making the first start after disappointing as the PT favorite. I bet the 5-3 across the board and then box the top 3 numbers in one exacta.

6th: 3-2-1/8-7-6…Eye’s Reward (3) has run two thirds in a row and has hit the board in three of four lifetime tries to date. This 2YO daughter of Warrior’s Reward has had trouble at the starting gate in each of the last two starts, as well. If she can get away from the gate clean, she may move way up the ladder. Freudian Finish (2) will be making the career debut for a barn that normally does NOT crank them up for the initial endeavor. The barn hits with only .06% of those on debut. But this one has been working very well, and picks up one of the track’s top all-time riders in the saddle. Can’t dismiss. Garden Affair (1) didn’t run very well last time out, but the race two back on the slop was solid. If she can return to that level, she could be very competitive in this grouping. Apprentice rider has been doing well, and has hit with .16% of the last 31 rides for this barn. I bet the 3-1 across the board and then box the top 3 numbers in the exacta.

7th: 2/1A-1-8/7-5…This is my second Key Play of the Day race, and I will go with Cullum Road (2). This 3YO gelded son of Quality Road comes into this one off two straight tries against Stakes company. The last out was nothing to write home about, but the race two back — down at KY Downs — will a solid effort. Channel Cat  edged this one by a head. The dam of this one is a SW and has thrown 4 turf winners out of the first 5 Starters. I bet the 2 to win/place and then key the 2 over/under the 1-1A-8. I will key the 2 over (only) the 7-5, as well. 

8th: 1/3-4-7-6/2-5…Curate (1) is my last Key Play of the Day. This 4YO gelded son of Bernardini is a perfect 1-for-1 on an off track and comes into this one with a perfect 2-for-2 lifetime record. Didn’t make his first start until he was 4. Ran a run-away race at Ellis Park in August. Off again until October, and won gate-to-wire at Keeneland. Don’t know why he can’t move up the ladder and annex another win today. Loves the lead. Loves this sprint distance. And, this is his home base. Adds up for me. And, rooting like crazy for his regular pilot — Calvin Borel. I bet the 1 to win/place/show and then key the 1 over/under the 3-4-7-6. I will key the 1 over (only) the 2-5, as well.

9th: 8-2/5-7-4…A really nice Allowance-Optional Claimer going 7 furlongs over the main track. I give a slight edge to the highly touted and talented Nitrous (8). This 2YO son of Tapit is owned by the Winchell Thoroughbreds and Stonestreet, and simply put — he can gas. Has speed to motor on the front and can stalk a bit, too. I throw out the grass try at Keeneland. Never looked comfortable there after getting bumped at the start. Ran a nice second to Strike Silver on debut, and that one is now a Graded Stakes winner and Breeders’ Cup participant. Mind Control is a good one, too. Been facing tougher. Classy John (2) ran a huge one on debut at Saratoga back in late August. That came for a barn that rarely gets them cranked up for the debut. Runner-up in there came right back to win. If you can break your maiden at first ask by 6 at Saratoga? You have some talent. I bet the 8 to win/place/show and then box in the exacta with the 2. I key the 8-2 over the 5-7-4 in a smaller version.

10th: 7-4-1/3-6…G3 Commonwealth Turf Stakes…Here’s hoping that his 11/16-mile event can stay on the grass, even if it is a bit giving. What a race this could shape up to be if it is contested on the sod. I give a slight nod to Hot Springs (7), who comes into this one with 3 wins in 6 starts and a nice rally to grab the Jefferson Cup here on Sept. 29. This one is trained by Steve Asmussen, who has done great for the Woodford Racing connections, and the race that really impresses me, as well, is the 4th to Raging Bull two back. Had trouble and went wide against one of the best in that one. Look for this guy to stalk and pounce. March to the Arch (4) nipped the top choice in the G3 Saranac at Saratoga on Labor Day. Came from well out of it to be third to Raging Bull, and was steadied in the stretch. May be better odds than the top one and has beaten him. Go figure. Reride (1) is a 3YO son of Candy Ride and I have loved this horse all year. Can run well over either the grass or dirt, and has a second in only try over an off, main track. He showed a ton of speed in the last out at Keeneland, in the slop, and can motor with these, too. May be a sleeper in here. I bet the 4 (Take Note) to win/place/show and then box the top 3 numbers in the exacta. I will key the top 3 over the 3-6 in a smaller version.

11th: 9-8-3-1/12-2-4-7…A wide open affair to finish up the day. I will go to the outside and team up with Honor With Pride (9). This one is dropping down a notch after almost winning the last out for $40,000 at Keeneland. Over the last four races, he has hit the board in each and has two wins in the mix. Has a nice 2-1-1 record in 6 starts here, and has a win and a second in 3 starts at this 7-furlong distance. Looks good right now. Dial Me (8) is trained by a talented young man who likes to stay local. This one has a second and a third in 7 tries over this track, but does have a third on an off going. Trainer hits with .32% returning as a beaten favorite, and does well with those coming off the bench, too.  Taylor’s Princess (3) at 8-1 ML odds, and Parking Ticket (1), at 15-1, could spice up the exotics rack in here, as well. I bet the 9 to win/place/show and then key the 9 over/under the 8-3-1. I will box the 9-8-3-1 in a trifecta, as well.

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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