McLean’s Selections for Churchill Downs on Saturday, Nov. 16

Day Results10/2-4-4
2019 Overall 1,3251,325/464-477-599
Win % of Top Pick35.02%
Payoff % of Top 3 Picks Overall38.74%
2019 Top Pick in the Money –870 of 1,32565.66%
Top Selection ITM / CD Nov 87-13265.91%
Top Selection Win / CD Nov 49-13237.12%
“Key Horses” @ CD Nov 18/8-4-047.06%
“Key Horses” in 2019 207-80-41-2238.65%

On Friday, I had 200 (or so) of my closest friends out to Churchill Downs and the Starting Gate Suites. One of my clients, the Kentucky Beer Wholesalers Association, hosted the “2nd Annual Alcohol Summit” at the ole ball yard.

It was a great crowed, and my great friend, Dave “Buzz” Baker served as the “Master of Ceremonies. What a great man, with a fantastic talent. Don’t know what I would do without him in my life, to be honest. Such a great friend.

Everything went fantastic — thanks to my great friends at Churchill Downs.

All was great. With one exception.

I only gave the crowd and my friends 2 winners on the 10-race card.

Ugh.

Oh well. Hope that 200 (or so) of my closest friends are still my friends.

We are trying to make amends today. Here’s a look at our picks for Saturday:

1st: 2/6-4/3-5-7…The first Key Play of the Day comes in the first race of the day. I will line up early and often with Ginny B (2). This 3YO daughter of More Than Ready was claimed last time out by the heady horseman Steve Asmussen for the low ball price of $20,000. She came close to winning that one, but tired and faltered at the end in her first try over a fast dirt track in quite some time. Now, she gets the steady hand of a new rider, and comes in off a top work at Turfway Park on Nov. 9. New barn hits with .22% in the first start after the purchase, and with .27% of those that return as a beaten favorite. Adds up for me. I bet the 2 to win/place/show and then key the 2 over/under all the numbers listed in the exactas.

2nd: 6-3/2-1/4-5…Proud Emma (6) will be making her second start after a considerable layup for trainer Peter Miller. Barn hits with .25% of those making the second on the return. Blinkers come off today, too, and the barn hits with .28% of those losing the shades. The work here on Nov. 6 was spot on, and the new rider is on a roll of late. Has a 7-2-3 mark in the last 22 rides. Should be tough at the wire in this one. Nikki Beach (3) is the 8-5 favorite in the ML, and figures to be the choice at Post Time, as well. This 3YO daughter of Distorted Humor cost a whopping $410,000 at the KEE September Yearling Sale in 2017. She is the daughter of a Stakes winner, too, who has 4 winners from 4 starters. This one has 2 wins and 2 thirds in the first 5 starts. Has the speed to be real dangerous in here, and the rider is going to win this meet’s Jockey Title. Look at the work here on Nov. 3, too. Will be hard to catch. I bet the 6-3 across the board and then box those two strong in one exacta. I will key the 6-3 over (only) the rest of the numbers in a shorter version.

3rd: 3-7-4/1/2-5/6…Rocko’s Wheel (3) comes into this one off a nice couple of races on the West Coast, for a trainer that knows what he is doing. For sure. Drops to a career low price tag today, and this one should appreciate the class relief. May help that he will stretch back out to a route of ground today, too. Love the rider choice. Having a real good meet this Fall. Hardly a Secret (7) was claimed last time out by a barn operator that wins with .29% of those making the first start for the new connections. Now, this one drops off the purchase, and the barn hits with .38% of those. Wow numbers there. And…the barn hits with .26% of those returning to the afternoon main event as a beaten favorite. Love the work here on Nov. 8. Interesting rider choice here. But take note. Conquest Big E (4) drops to a price tag that is one-half of what he was offered for last time out. This 6YO gelded son of Tapit has a 1-1-1 mark here in 4 career starts and has a 4-2-0 record in 15 starts at this distance. Has not hit the board this year in 3 starts, and that is troublesome. But if he can discover the 2018 form again? Could be solid here. I bet the 3 to win/place/show and then box the top 3 numbers in the exacta. I will key the top 3 over/under the 1 in two smaller versions.

4th: (14)-(15)/12-11-1/7-(16)-9/3-8-10…The first turf race of the day is scheduled to be contested at the sprint distance of 5.5 furlongs. I will go with two of the horses on the AE List. But if they don not draw into the body of this race, I will give the edge to Kona Kai (12). Despite the far outside post, this 2YO daughter of Palace Malice is coming off a real nice race at this distance on Sept. 1. Came back to try a 1-mile event and was found wanting at the end of that one. Wanting less. As in ground. Shortens up today, and that could be the trigger. Dynamite Gift (11) has run two really good races for trainer Michelle Lovell, one of the most talented and amicable people you will ever find. She has a second and two thirds in 9 starts this meet, and needs to add a win to that column, as well. This daughter of Justin Phillip came from way out of it to narrowly miss on the debut here on Sept. 29. Came back to run third here on Oct. 27. Now, the filly moves to the grass for the first time. Dam of this one has 3 turf winners. Wow. Take note. I bet the 11 — take note — to win/place/show. I will key the 11 over/under the numbers in the exactas. I will definitely key the 14-15 if they draw in, though. Keep an eye on the tote board here.

5th: 1A-3/5-2-1/6-4/7…Get Hammered (1A) gets the edge in a talented entry duo over this well-balanced field. The 3YO colt by Stay Thirsty is trained by Larry Rivelli, who has won with .32% of his 384 starters this year. That super numbers, right there. This one has never been worse than second in 4 career starts, to date, and nearly beat a real good one in Bourbon Calling last time out. If he can return to that form, again, he will be a very tough out in this spot. My pick. Mucho (3) ran a good one last time out, when he was 3rd in the same race as our top choice. Has speed to be dangerous and gets a very talented rider in the saddle for the first time. Will give it a run in here, to be sure, and may be hard to catch. I bet the 1A to win/place/show and then box the 1A-3 in the exacta. I will key the 1A over/under all the numbers in two smaller versions.

6th: 9-7-8/5-2-4/3-6-1-10…Quick Quick Quick (9) will get the saddle from Ian Wilkes, who is having a super nice meet this November. Barn has a 4-1-3 mark in the first 20 starts and picked up yet another win on Friday. This 4YO daughter of Tiago comes in off a second place finish at KEE on Oct. 6. Winner that day has already come back to win again. This one has never won here, with only 1 second in 4 starts. But she looks good in this spot on Saturday. Rider has won with .14% of his 42 mounts for the barn in the last 60 days. Flat Awesome Jenny (7) and Love My Honey (8) both figure to have a shot in here, too. The former is coming off a third here on Sept. 15. Drops in class off that one and picks up the meet’s top rider for the first time. Beware. The latter won the last time out, and has to move up in class after losing that condition. Barn hits with .29% of those trying to repeat in the claiming ranks and with .33% of those that are dropping in price off a win. I bet the 9 to win/place/show and then box the top 3 numbers in the exacta. I will key the 9 over/under the 7-8-5-2-4-3 in two more.

7th: 9-10-4/(15)/5-1-7/6-11-(18)…The second turf race of the day will be contested at the flat mile distance, and I will go to the outside for my top 2 selections — led by Keepthe Main Thing (9). This one came storming from last to get third in the career debut at KEE on oct. 10. Bothered at the start of that one, and had all kinds of issues after that. Has returned to work well here, and the trainer has 3 wins and a second in the first 4 starts here this meet. What? Are you kidding me? Three wins and a second in the first 4 starts. That’s getting it done. Temple City Terror (10) nearly won the last time out, when losing by just a nose at KEE on Oct. 10. Was in the same race as our top pick and finished in front of her. This one was closing fast, too. The winner may come from one of these that gets the best trip late. I bet the 9 to win/place/show and then box the top 3 numbers in one exacta. I will key the 9-10 over/under the 4-(15)-5-1-7-6 in two smaller versions, as well.

8th: 1A-7-1/6-8-11/9-5-4…Both parts of the entry look daunting in this event, which will be held at 6.5-furlongs over the main track. I will give the edge to Cavalry Charge (1A), who looked like a winner until he tired and weakened at the end of a 7-furlong event last time out here on Oct. 27. The cutback in distance should help immensely. Also, this one may be better served with a little less speed in the first quarter. Looks to be getting much better and the 3rd career start could be the right spot. Trainer and Jockey have teamed up to go 2-0-2 in the last 8 starts together, too. Fulfill (1) is the other part of the entry and is not to be overlooked, either. This 2YO son of Congrats cost a healthy $183,000 at a 2YO Sale earlier this year. Will be making the career debut today, and the HOF trainer will give a leg up to the meet’s top rider. A combination that normally doesn’t happen. Interesting. I bet the entry to win/place/show and hope that both of them hit the board. That will give me a double payoff and a nice return, to boot. I will key the entry over/under all the numbers listed in the exacta, too.

9th: 9-1-2/4/5-7-8/3…The #9 seems to be a good number for me on this Saturday, and I will go with another one in this spot — Hallawallah (9). This 3YO daughter of Candy Ride has hit the board in each of the last two and now has a 1-1-1 mark in the first 5 career starts. Comes off a second at KEE on Oct. 6. Was the beaten fav that day, too. Now goes from a sprint event to a route race, and the barn scores with .18% of those. Barn hits with .27% of those returning as a beaten favorite, too. Won the career debut here back in May. Has the talent. Getridofwhatailesu (1) is coming off two really nice races to start the year, and now moves up to face winners for the first time after breaking the maiden at KEE last time out on Oct. 12. This 3YO daughter of Ghostzapper has talent, and may just dust this group. Don’t leave out. I bet the 9-1 across the board and then box the top 3 numbers in the exacta. I will key the 9-1 over/under the 2-4-5-7-8 in two lesser versions.

10th: 9-4/2/8-1-6/7-5…G3 River City Handicap…Admission Office (9) has to have his running shoes on today, but the 4YO son of Point of Entry comes into this one with a very impressive resume. Ran a disappointing 11th out of 14 in the G1 Shadwell Mile last time out. But…that was a G1 event…that was a mile event…that was the first start in 4 months…and that was a toss out for me. At this distance, this guy has a second in the only start, and three races back he ran the numbers off Catholic Boy in the G2 Dixie at Pimlico on May 18. In 8 career starts, he has a 3-3-1 record. Look for a return to stardom out of this one today. Mr. Misunderstood (4) has raced over this grass surface 5 times. Has 4 wins and a third. Loves it here, to be sure. But…this one has not won in 4 starts this year and the 5YO gelded son of Archarcharch doesn’t appear to be as good as he was a year ago. Still? He is very good. I bet the 9 to win/place/show. Strong for me. And, I key the 9 over/under all the numbers listed in the exactas.

11th: 2-6/7-4/3-1-8…Bibiana (2) nearly won on debut at Gulfstream Park on Sept. 19. Now, granted, there isn’t the level of competition down in South Florida as he will face in this spot today. That being written, though, this 2YO daughter of Stay Thirsty has traveled North and has not missed a step. The work here on Nov. 6 was spot on. the barn has had a terrific meet with 2 wins and 2 seconds in 8 starts, to date. The winner over this one in that debut effort has already come back to win again, too. As a result…I will be the 2 to win/place/show and then key the 2 over/under all the numbers listed in the exactas.

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 ...

    Full Bio >

More From Gene McLean