McLean’s Selections for Churchill Downs on Saturday, Nov. 24

Day Results12-3-5-5
2018 Overall 1788657-640-782
Win % of Top Pick36.75%
Payoff % of Top 3 Picks Overall38.76%
Top Selection ITM / CD Nov 106-16663.86%
Top Selection Win / CD Nov 56-16633.74%
“Key Horses” @ CD Nov: 26-8-5-230.77%

We hit the first three races in a row to begin the card on Friday, and then things went a little array. We didn’t have another winner on the card. But we did cash exacta tickets worth $16.10, $19.70, $45.10, $14.60, $25.30, $52.10, $23.10, and $26.80 on the day. Great day for the exacta players.

Here’s a look at today’s card: (I will be providing more details and comments, in a few):

1st: 1A-1-4/10-7-9/11-2-3-12…Speedy Solution (1A) would get the edge, on the turf, but this one is now on the main dirt track — which is sloppy to begin the day. As a result, I will move to the entry mate — Cosmic Kitten (1). This one has a great mud mark on the email side and has run over an all weather track before. Should get a great rail trip with a HOFer in the saddle. Boxwood (4) has a second in her only previous trip over a sloppy track — which was the last out. Ran well on the lead that day and gets Corey Lanerie up today. Should be the one to beat. I bet the 1-4 across the board and then box the 1-4 in the exacta.

2nd: 2-8-(15)-4/11-12-5-1/7-3-6-9…Naughty Joker (2) gets good mud marks on the pedigree, and has run two good ones against good competition in the past. Has been on both turf and dry dirt so far. Might as well add mud, right? Alizee (8) is 12-1 ML odds and ran OK over the slop last time out. Caught a good one in there, who ran second that day. The sire has only 6 runners so far to go over a sloppy racetrack, but has 3 winners. Nice numbers. My first upset special. Shacklette (15) would figure to be tough in here if she draws in. Has 4 seconds in a row. Watch for the scratch. I bet the 2-8 across the board and then box the 2-8-4 in the exacta.

3rd: Off The Turf…1-3-(14)-8/6-(17-18)-10-12/5-2…Fluellen (1) gets OK mud marks on both the dam and sire side of the pedigree, but has never been on an off track before. Love the work, though, on Nov. 17. If he stays in, could be tough on he lead — with the rail position. Kathak (3) is another who gets a solid mud mark from the sire line. Ran well from a nice stalking position on the grass last time out. The barn hates to scratch. Proud as Punch (14) is questionable from a mud pedigree standpoint, but Game Day Decision (8) gets a solid mud mark from both the sire/dam lines. I think this one moves up today at a nice price. I bet the 1-8 across the board and then box the 1-3-8 in the exacta.

4th: 4/6-12/7-2/5-10-11/1-3-8-9…Jersey Agenda (4) will be converting from the turf to the dirt anyway today, so I give this one a huge shot in here. The sire line is tremendous so far with mud runners. In 83 starts, the foals have won 27% of the time on the “off track.” Love the move to the dirt, and like the work pattern. A solid pick and first Key Play of the Day. I bet the 4 to win/place/show and then key the 4 over/under the 6-12-7-2 in two exactas. I will key the 4 over (only) the rest of the numbers listed.

5th: 9/4-2-3/11-10-1…My second Key Play of the Day comes right here with Meadow Dance (5). This 2YO filly by Jimmy Creed gets solid mud marks on both sides of the pedigree, and although she has not run over it in the afternoon, she is working so well right now. The morning move here on Nov. 18 was nothing short of tremendous. Love the barn connection and looks very solid in this spot with lots of speed to use when the rider wants it. I bet the 9 to win/place/show and then key the 9 over/under the 4-2-3. I will key the 9 over (only) the 11-10-1.

6th: Off The Turf…1-(19)-4-10-(14)/8-(16)-9-3…Another one that comes off the turf, and that will switch and jumble up these picks tremendously. I would have gone with Macabre (1) on top, but I will switch now to the 1A and Final Cut (1A). This one was entered for the MTO, and has shown some ability to close. Should like the extra distance today, and gets a top rider in the saddle. The horse to beat, IMO, is Bossy Bride (19). This one was entered for MTO, as well, from the barn of Todd Pletcher. The barn was red hot at Keeneland in October and has been OK this meet. This one ran an OK second here on Oct. 28, but was way wide throughout in that one. Gets the blinkers for the first time today, and the barn scores with .22% of those. If trainer Ian Wilkes can get Scat Maggie (14) in this affair, I would love this one’s chances. Mud marks are solid in the pedigree, and the work here on Nov. 19 was spectacular. I bet the 19 to win/place/show and then box the 1A-19-14 in one exacta. I will key the 19 over/under the “all button” in two smaller versions.

7th: 7-6-8/10-9-3/4-1-5-12…I will take a longshot here and my second Upset Special with Wild Moment (7). This one caught a sloppy track over at Keeneland in the last out and showed a lot more than in any previous race. Ran well to beat a highly touted one in there, and now catches the same kind of track today. Has returned to work OK, and gets a red hot rider back in the saddle. Look for this one to stalk and pounce, and is very well bred. Kajawa (6) ran well behind Dunphy (who is in the KY Jockey Club later in the card). Has hit the board in 4 of the first 5 races, and has an experience edge on most of these. Love the rider switch here, and the work here on Nov. 18, as well. Could spice up the odds rack, too. Lunar Orbit (8) goes for a barn having a super nice meet. Ran well to break the maiden here last out and now moves up to face winners for the first time. The pedigree will support a mud runner, and the rider has won with .32% of the last 19 rides for this barn over the past 60 days. Adds up. I bet the 7-6 across the board and then box the top 3 numbers in one exacta. I will key the top 3 numbers over/under the 10-9-3 in a smaller version.

8th: 3-2-(13)/6-7-11/12-9-10-5…Distant Shore (3) has a very nice mud pedigree, boosted by the sire line. Out of 213 mud runners to date, the sire has produced .20% winners. That is a very high number. Ran well while very wide in the Street Sense. Now, gets back to the allowance level and should be tough to handle in the lane, from a stalking position. Jack Van Berg (2) was an impressive winner on the lead last time out here over a “good” main track. Whenever you name as horse after a legend and HOFer — and that horse is trained by your son? You want to make sure it is a good one. This one could be just that. I look for him to be a tough out on the lead today. If Hawaiian Noises (13) draws into this one, take a serious look. The rider is a HOFer, and this one was very impressive in the MSW win last out. Has a good mud pedigree, as well. I bet the 3-2 across the board and then box the 3-2-13 in one exacta. I will key the 3-2 over/under the 6-7-11, and then key the 3-2 over (only) the 12-9-10-5.

9th: 5/4-8-3-7/2-6-1…G2 Golden Rod Stakes…I will make Restless Rider (5) my third Key Play of the Day.This 2YO filly by Distorted Humor is truly a special one. Her win here in the Debuatnte Stakes was by 11 lengths, and after a nice second in the G1 Spinaway, she was just as dominant in her first try around two turns in the G1 Alcibiades. Was not match for Jaywalk in the BC Juvenile Fillies, but she as a strong second in a very deep, talented and aggressive field. She gets very solid mud marks in her pedigree, and despite the fact that she has never ran over an “off track,” I think she will handle it fine. I bet the 5 to win/place/show and then key the 5 over/under the 4-8-3-7. I will key the 5 over (only) the 2-6-1. 

10th: 1-9-10/11/5-12-4-6…Another well-balanced field of 2YO colts, but this one could turn into a coming out party for So Alive (1). This son of Super Saver has solid mud marks in the pedigree and came from out of the weeds to snap a win going 6 furlongs over the mud at Keeneland on Oct. 27. Has worked well here since that win, and will get a HOFer in the saddle. Was well supported at the windows on debut and looks to have some kick late, which should enable him to stretch out just fine. Barn hits with .27% of those going a route for the first time. King Ford (9) ran super around two turns for the first time, and beat a very good one who came back to win the next out. How can I NOT bet this one. My son is named “Ford.” And, he along with his brother, Jack, are no doubt KINGS. For loveofcountry (10) has faced some good ones in the last two. Will switch to the main track for a barn that hits with .15% of those making this kind of surface switch. Love the mud marks in the pedigree, and ran third in the slop in the career debut. Could get a piece. I bet the 1-9 across the board and then box the top 3 in one exacta. I key the 1-9 over/under the 11 in two more.

11th: 9-13-1-12/7-4-6-3/10-5-2-11…G2 KY Jockey Club Stakes…I am going with an upset here and hope that I can get some decent odds to go along with the selection. I love Current (9), a son of Curlin who will be switching surfaces to the dirt for the first time.Broke the maiden while running near the par at Belmont on Sept. 8. Captured the G3 Bourbon Stakes at Keeneland coming from the clouds. Ran better than it looked over a yielding grass course here in the BC Juvenile Turf. Much better. If he can take to the main track, and the pedigree suggests that he not only can, but should, then he can be a huge play at some monster odds here. My Key Play & Upset Special & Best Bet of the Day — All Rolled into one. I bet the 9 to win/place/show and then key the 9 over/under the 13-1-12 in a strong exacta. I will key over/under the 7-4-6-3 in a modest exacta. And, I will key over/under the “all buttons” in two small versions.

12th:10-2-6-4/11-(15)-(13)-9/1…This one could be a really interesting event, since a few of these are converting from the grass over to the dirt, as well, and some of the best runners would have to draw in from the AE List. Keep an eye out for scratches and “draw ins” as the tote board lights up. The top horse in here, if he can convert to the dirt, looks to be War of Will (10). This son of War Front was one I touted and used in the BC Juvenile Turf. Ran fifth that day, but was only beaten 31/2 lengths and was shuffled around entering and leaving the final turn. Gets a nice rider switch here for this one, and could be really tough today, what with the dirt work at Keeneland prior to the BC. Derby Date (2) is much better than the recent form shows. The last three outs have been troubled from the get to the go. If this one could ever get a clean run, he may be OK, and today that may be it — with some nice odds to boot. Locally Owned (6) and Gentle Warrior (4) both have a shot in here, too. I bet the 10-2 across the board and then box the 10-2 in one exacta, and then key the 10-2 over/under the 4-6 in two more. I will key the 10-2 over/under the rest of the numbers 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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