McLean’s Selections for Churchill Downs on Saturday, Nov. 30

Day Results12/5-3-2
2019 Overall 1,4291,429/500-520-636
Win % of Top Pick34.99%
Payoff % of Top 3 Picks Overall38.63%
2019 Top Pick in the Money –938 of 1,42965.64%
Top Selection ITM / CD Nov 155-23865.13%
Top Selection Win / CD Nov 85-23835.71%
“Key Horses” @ CD Nov 26/11-6-042.31%
“Key Horses” in 2019 215-83-43-2238.60%

We can’t say we didn’t have enough chances to make a splash on “Black Friday.” After all, Churchill Downs had 12 races.

We can’t say we didn’t have enough choices, either. Each of the races were filled to the brim with top-ranked runners and the starting gate was jammed from rail-to-rail with many options.

We can’t even say that we didn’t try. Because we did. Oh, how we tried.

But we didn’t manage to manage very many happy returns. We did nail 4 winners on the card, and we did cash exactas that returned $16.80, $27.40, $6.40, $23.80, $20.40, $9.80, and $41.70 for each $1 wagered.

Yet, we were looking for the long ball. And, we are still waiting. And, watching.

Still, we have a couple of more days left in Churchill Downs race products and here’s a closer look at the Saturday card:

1st: 3-5-(14)/(13)-4-12/10-2/1-7…Never Forget (3) is a 2YO daughter of the grand sire War Front and she was nearly a winner on debut when running here on Oct. 27. had to settle for a hard-fought 2nd after tiring in the late going. Had a very tough trip and was bottled up for much of the going in the stretch. Even the chart caller wrote that this one was “probably the best.” Dam of this one was a Stakes winner, too. All the ingredients to be a very good one. Take note early on. Street of Dreams (5) ran third at KEE on Oct. 5, when making the racing debut. Was 6-wide in that one and had to rally from way back on a track that truly didn’t favor the closers. This one has returned to work very well here — including on Nov. 23. Look for a monster move late out of this one. I bet the 3-5 across the board and then box those two sternly in the exacta. I will key the 3-5 over (only) the (14)-(13)-4-12-10 in two smaller versions.

2nd: (16)-1-(15)-12/(17)-(20)-(19)-(18)/11-10/(14)-9…The first turf race of the day is scheduled to go a flat mile distance. If Sequin (16) gets into the body of the race from the AE List, the 2YO daughter of Bayern should be a prime contender in the late going. This one will be stretching back out to the two turns off a sprint last time out. Should relish the extra ground. But the post position is no bargain and it probably cost her roommate The Mackem Bullet on Friday. Still, she is a contender if she gets in. Fate Factor (1) should relish the cut back in distance to the 1 mile here. This one has the stalking style that could carve out a great trip. Gets a huge rider switch, too. Will have to negotiate a trip from the rail, if she doesn’t try to hold position early on. Rain Dance (12) is another by The Factor, and will get the blinkers on for the first time today. Barn hits with .12% of those adopting the shades for the first time. Dam of this one has thrown a grass winner already, and the jockey has teamed up with this trainer to score a 2-2-1 record in the last 7 races together. Nice work here on Nov. 25. Chance. I bet the 16, if she gets in. If not, I will key on the 1-12. I bet the 1-12 to win/place/show and then box the top 3 numbers in the exacta. I will also key the 1-12 over/under the horses that make the gate.

3rd: 7-4/6-8-2…Josie (7) is a 2YO Race Day filly that is getting the blinkers for the first time today, as well. In the first 5 career starts, she has a win. But she also has 3 seconds and a third. Maybe the glasses will help her near the wire, when she has faded too many times. Gets the barn’s go-to rider up for the first time. Look for huge improvement here. Indy Takes Charge (4) has run back-to-back seconds and has faced some good ones in those two tries, too. Has the ability to close. Needs a cleaner trip late. Love this one’s guts. I bet the 7-4 across the board and then box the 7-4 in the exacta. I will key the 7-4 over/under the other numbers.

4th: (13)-5-4-10/3-6-(16)7-8…If Jilted Bride (13) gets into the race from the AE List, she figures to be a tough out. Comes into this one off a third and a second and was the beaten favorite in the last one. This barn hits with .26% of those returning as the beaten fan’s choice. Love the work here on Nov. 22, too. Will need to find a little more run at the end, but the barn hits with .26% of those coming back as a beaten favorite, and with .19% of the 2YO in the barn. Flatoya (5) is another contender that needs to find a little more urgency at the wire. Has been in contention in all of the previous races to date, but has found a way to lose. Gets a new rider up in this one, and that may help. Rider is 7-3-4 in the last 26 rides. Hot. Veruca (4) is likely the horse to beat and the PT favorite. Comes into this one off a third in the career debut on the grass at KEE on Oct. 23. Flattened at the end of that one, but should be better fit for this one. The young trainer has never won with a horse making the 2nd career start, but gets a new rider and has a big chance here. I bet the 13 if she gets in. If not, I will bet the 5 to win/place/show. I will box the top 3 numbers in one exacta, and then key the 5-4 over/under the 10-3-6 in two smaller versions.

5th: 2-3-4/6-(16)/7-10-12-(18)/9-11-1-5…Duke of Carthania (2) has come running late in each of the first two and simply ran out of ground. Now, he will stretch out to 11/16-miles for the first time, and this one sure has the look of a two-turn runner. And, he should relish the extra ground to negotiate. Barn hits with .26% of those returning as a beaten favorite. Hot rider over the last week. In 26 starts? Has gone 7-3-4. Cardiac Kid (3) ran a huge one when getting the turf last time out. Nearly had the win carved out before tiring in the final 100 furlong. Gets a new rider for the first time, and he knows how to finish a race. Look for more today. Ahsad (4) is 15-1 in the ML and could spice up the odds rack here. Will get back to the sod and will get the Lasix for the first time. Could help this one find a better kick in the late going, too. Worth a shot. I bet the 2-3 across the board and then box the top 3 numbers in the exacta. I will key the 2-3 over/under the 4-6-7-10-12 in two smaller versions.

6th: 2-8-10/7-9-11-6/4-5…Lykan (2) won two starts back at the odds of 22-to-1. Might not expect much from one like that when he moves up. But he ran huge. Again. Was right there at the end, only to finish a tough-beat third as the betting fav. Barn hits with .20% of those returning for a rematch, and this one gets a new rider up for this one, too. Shippingport (8) is our first Upset Special of the Day. This 2YO son of Midshipman comes in off a 7th place finish in the Indian Summer Stakes at KEE. Tough field in that sprint over the grass. Now, this one moves to the dirt and the barn hits with .40% of them making this surface switch. Also, in his only trip over a fast dirt track, this one won. Gets the meet’s top rider back up. Dangerous here. Bango (10) broke the maiden impressively here last time out on Nov. 2. Ran off at the end of that one when getting the blinkers for the first time ever. May have found the key to this one. I bet the 2-8 across the board and then box the top 3 numbers in the exacta. I will key the 2-8 over/under the 10-7-9-11-6 in two smaller versions.

7th: 2-6-5-8/1/7-9/3-10…Swiss Skydiver (2) gets a slight edge in this well-balanced field of 2YO fillies. This one broke the maiden on first ask here on Nov. 16. Despite a terrible start, when she broke nearly last, she swept past them all on her way to a 51/2-length victory. Inspiring move. Especially for a barn that does not win many on debut. If this one improves at all, she will be mighty tough. Beautiful Trauma (6) broke the maiden last time out as the favorite, too. Ran off at the wire to win by nearly 3. Has returned to work very well, too. Not at the bottom of this one yet. Look for more. Emily’s Oasis (5) could be a little bit of a surprise here. Broke the maiden here for Ian Wilkes last time out when stretched out to a mile. Daughter of American Pharoah should be well supported in this one, but might be a sneaky good bet, too. I bet the 2-6 across the board and then box the 2-6-5 in one exacta. I will key the top 3 over/under the 8-1 in two smaller versions. Great betting race. 

8th: 12-(13)-9-10/(15)-11-1/5-4-(16)…Digital (12) will break from the far outside in this 6-furlong sprint, and will need a real clean break to stay near or close to the pace. Look at the work here on Nov. 18, though. If this 2YO son of Into Mischief can show that kind of speed today? Speed will not be an issue. Looks to be another good one for this sire. Elusive Ruler (9) goes for a barn that normally does not do well with first time starters. The barn rate is .06%. But this one is form a dam that has 2 winners from 4 starters and a SW. This one has worked a hole in the wind, too. May outrun the coverage. Cornbread Kingdom (10) is a first time starter from the barn of Dale Romans. He normally runs them into condition, as well, but this one has been working lights out. May the barn’s best option to test Dennis’ Moment in the future. I bet the 12-10 across the board and then box the top 3 in the exacta. I will key the top 3 over/under the 11-1 in two smaller versions.

9th: 1-6/2-7-3-4/5-8…G2 Golden Rod Stakes…Won’t have to go far to find the favorite and my choice here — Finite (1). This 2YO daughter of Munnings ran a huge one when switched to the dirt here in the Rags to Riches Stakes on Oct. 27. Ran off to a 6-length win that day. Has returned to work well and looks powerful on the speed element. Rail should not bother her now, either. Can she get the distance? We shall see. His Glory (6) can definitely go the route. Ran super here in the G2 Pocahontas Stakes on Sept. 14, when second to Lazy Daisy in that one. Came back to stomp a crowd in the two-turn race on Oct. 27. Has speed and can carry it. Be interesting to see what James Graham decides to do with her early on. I bet the 1-6 across the board and then box those two in the exacta. I will key the 1-6 over/under the 2-7-3-4 in two smaller versions.

10th: 3-8-7/6-2/10-9/1-1A-(14)…Silver State (3) ran off to a near 10-length win on debut here on Sept. 27. Runner-up that day came right back to win. And? So did the third-place finisher. Now, that is what we like to call flattering. This one has returned to work well, too. Connections spent a whopping $450,000 at last year’s KEE September Yearling Sale for this son of Hard Spun. That was the 4th highest price for a Hard Spun out of 47 offered at the sale. Must look the part. Can run the part. My first Key Play of the Day. I bet the 3 to win/place/show here and then box the top 3 numbers in one exacta. I will key the 3 over/under the 8-7-6-2-10-9 in two smaller versions.

11th: 3-4/2-1-9/7-5…G2 Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes…Tiz the Law (3) ships to town from New York, where the NY-bred has an impressive 2 wins in 2 starts. Against both state-bred and open company. Ran off to win the G1 Champagne Stakes by over 4 in the last outing. Skipped this year’s Breeders’ Cup Juvenile and came here instead. Has been working bullets for this outing, too. Has talent. How much? We shall see. South Bend (4) is definitely talented, too, and has shown a lot in the first three starts of the career — all in the Commonwealth. Has 2 wins over this track. Likes to make it close at the wire. But guts cannot be questioned Look for a super effort out of this one today, too. Game on. I bet the 4 — take note — to win/place/show and then box the 3-4 in one exacta. I will key the 4 over/under the 3-2-1-9-7-5 in two softer versions.

12th: 9-8-11/1-6-(13)-(14)/4-10-12-(16)…The last race of the day is a MSW event for the 2YOs going 1 mile over the main track. I will go to the outside, despite the fact that they all could be compromised by the starting gate position. Sounion (9) will be making the second route race of the career, and the barn hits with .24% of those. Gets a red-hot rider, and the works have been spot-on, too. Love the last outing, when he nearly pulled off the win. Any improvement at all, and he should be really tough. Gets the blinkers for the first time, too, and the barn hits with .12% of those. May be a little more keen with the shades. Brother Martin (8) closed well to be third on debut here on Oct. 27. Barn normally does not have them fully cranked for the first out. Could improve today, and it won’t take much for this one to find the circle. Recklessness (11) is 12-1 in the ML and could be a shocker here. This one ran 2nd last time out when he got the dirt for the first time. Should improve off that effort, and the rider switch may help, as well. I bet the 9-8 across the board and then box the top 3 in the exacta. I will key the 9-8 over/under the 11-1-6-4-10 in two smaller versions.

Good Luck & All the Best / Gene

(Comments to Come Soon)

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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