McLean’s Selections for Churchill Downs on Saturday, Nov. 9

Day Results10/5-2-5
2019 Overall 1,2841,284/453-459-576
Win % of Top Pick35.28%
Payoff % of Top 3 Picks Overall38.63%
2019 Top Pick in the Money –843 of 1,28465.65%
Top Selection ITM / CD Nov 60-9165.93%
Top Selection Win / CD Nov 37-9140.66%
“Key Horses” @ CD Nov 16/7-3-043.75%
“Key Horses” in 2019 205-79-40-2238.54%

Walked into Cunninghams, one of my favorite little spots along River Road in Louisville, after 4:15 p.m. on Friday. Arrived a bit early to have a couple of chilly pops and some conversation with a great friend.

As soon as I walked through the door and into the room, I heard my name from a chap at the bar. Seems as if he, Mike, had bet a few of my picks on Friday and had hit the Pick 4 for a rather handsome return.

Cheers and beers around the bar.

Felt good. Thanks, Mike. Much appreciated.

Now, we are back to the grindstone. Pound a few more salt tablets. Or, at the least, computer tablets. And, here’s what we have come up with for Saturday’s card at Churchill Downs. Let’s hope we can find a few more winners for the “Mikes” of the world.

1st: 5-4/6/2-3…Diamondcoat (5) ran a horrid race last time out, finishing 27 lengths behind the winner in a much tougher race here on Sept. 15. But…look at the comment line here, please. Almost lost the rider at the start. Look at the replay. Had no chance in that one. Complete toss out. Three races back, this one was a winner and has a 1-1-1 record in 6 previous runs here Drops to a career-low price tag and the last time she matched that number? Won by 10. My solid choice. Lunar Approach (4) gets a huge rider switch for this one and drops in class, as well. Nearly won the last race and before that, she had two wins and a second in the previous 3 outs. Winner of the last race, who beat her less than a length, came right back to win the next out, too. Will be tough at the wire. I bet the 5 to win/place/show and then box the 5-4 solidly in one exacta. I will key the 5-4 over/under the 6 in two smaller versions.

2nd: 2-5/4-6-1…Colorincolonel (2) is the 2-1 ML favorite, and figures to be a tough out in this spot. Comes in off two straight seconds and has hit the board in 6 of the last 7 tries. Trainer has a win in two starts this meet, and a hot rider takes the reins again. Jockey is 4-2-1 in the last 11 mounts. Will be coming late, and will require a clean run to get there. Kimberly Dream (5) was beaten 22 lengths in the last attempt, but that was against much, much better at KEE on Oct. 25. No match for those kind. Now, gets back to a level where she may be able to contend. Trainer is an unknown, but this 3YO Colonel John filly gets the expertise of a veteran rider, who knows how to get around the track. Won here on Sept. 13 with this one, too. Figures with these kind. I bet the 2 to win/place/show and then box the 2-5 in one exacta. I will key the 2-5 over/under the 4-6-1 in two smaller versions.

3rd: 4-3/1-6-5/2…Vice Versa (4) is another 2-1 ML favorite, but this 3YO gelded son of Speightstown looks much the best in this spot today. Gets back to the dirt after a disastrous try over the sod at KEE on Oct. 19. Never liked that surface a little bit. Also, this one drops into the claiming ranks for the first time. The barn hits with .21% of those. Has the speed to be an early factor in here. Early Mischief (3) is another one converting back to the traditional dirt surface in this spot, and this barn hits with .20% of those making this surface switch. Won 3 starts back and has been much better since getting the blinkers applied four starts ago. No match in the last try. Look for more out of this one today. Will push the pace. I bet the 4 to win/place/show and then box the 4-3 in one exacta. I will key the 4 over/under all the numbers in two more.

4th: (16)-(15)-(14)/9/(17)-(13)-12-8/10-5-7/4-2-3…This MSW event — originally scheduled for the grass — has been moved to the main dirt track today. And, it is wide, wide, wide open. Sa Font Salada (9) gets my top number, if she stays in the race. If not, take a look at the Main Track Only entrant, Georgia Dawn (17). This is a Louisiana-bred, but has run two OK races to date. Lucky Polly (16) has a solid dirt pedigree on top. So does Sursum Corda (15). But both of their respective dams look to be all grass. Regal Passage (14) could be a factor with the sire power there. Ivyetsu (8) did run 5th against some good ones over the dirt last time out. What to do? Throw a dart. I bet the 8-9 across the board and then box those two in the exacta. I will key the 8-9 over/under the “all button.” 

5th: 6-8/4-3/2-7/1…She’s Hot Today (6) drops into the MCL ranks for the second time after running a late-closing 6th last time out at the MSW level at Indy Grand. Gets off the grass and back to the dirt. Gets the blinkers for the first time. Barn hits with .20% of those donning the shades for the first time. Picks up a huge rider switch and this barn is really sneaky good. Don’t dismiss. Hot Copy (8) goes for a barn that is a bit chilly of late, especially on the main track. But this 3YO filly figures with the class drop here. Like the work on Nov. 2, and the barn wins with .11% in the second try off a layup. I bet the 6 to win/place/show and then key the 6 over/under all the numbers listed in the exacta. Horizontal plays may need another “all button.” 

6th: 3/7-6/5-4/1…The first Key Play of the Day comes here with Whoa Nellie (3). This 3YO daughter of Orb cuts back a bit in distance and has a win and a third in two previous tries at 7 furlongs. Love the try last time out at KEE. Coming off a layup, she was very came at the end of it. Any improvement off that run, and she will be extra salty in this spot. The work here on Nov. 4 suggests a big one today. Interesting rider switch here. Goes to the gal who rides Street Band. In 3 previous tries here, this filly has 2 wins and a third. My pick. Out for a Spin (7) is a G1 winner of the Ashland Stakes this Spring, and ran in the KY Oaks. Something must have happened that day. She backed out of things and finished 11th. Has not raced since. Been training for a long, long time for the return today. But this filly looks to want and need all of two turns. May be a prep race for something else down the road. Has that look and feel to it, to me. Has the speed to be dangerous. Have to use, right? G1 Winner. I bet the 3 to win/place/show and then key the 3 over/under all the numbers listed. Going for a price here.

7th: 4-5-(13)-3/10-(14)-12-9/2-11-1…East Moon (4) is a consistent sort. In 14 lifetime tries, she has hit the board 10 times. But she only has 2 wins. She has 7 seconds. Hmmm. May be a better play in the second spot, you think? Comes off a huge effort at KEE on Oct. 17. Still found a way to lose that one. I will use in the second hole. Take note. Our Bay B Ruth (5) caught a yielding course last time out, and a wide trip, to boot. One of Javier Castellano’s brain fart efforts, that were consistent throughout the KEE meet. Picks up Tyler Gaffalione on her back today, and the two of them combined to run a nice second here back in June. Winner of that one came right back to win again. In 5 lifetime tries at this distance, she has 2 wins and 2 seconds. Has hit the board in 7 of 8 lifetime tries, to date. My pick. Arabella Bella (3) is coming off a huge win at KY Downs last time out. Gets the best grass rider in these parts. The two of them teamed up four races ago for a third down at Ellis Park. Contender. I bet the 5 to win/place/show and then box the top 3 numbers. I def use the #13 if she gets into this one, as well. I key the 5-4 over/under the 3-10-12-9-2-11-1 in two softer versions.

8th: 8/9-3/6-7-1…My second Key Play of the Day comes here with Further Lane (8). This 2YO daughter of Lea hails from the barn of Brad Cox, who is back to his normal winning levels after a sub-par meet over in Lexington. This gal ran a huge one on debut, and as the betting favorite. Tired a bit in the end to run second, but was steadied at the 7/16th pole area and couldn’t recover. Another victim of Javier Castellano’s riding antics. Has returned to work very well and the barn hits with .31% of those returning as a beaten favorite. The meet’s top rider takes the assignment. My solid pick. I bet the 8 to win/place and then key the 8 over/under the rest of the numbers listed in the exactas.

9th: 6-8-4/3-9-2/5-1-7…Art Collector (6) comes into this one off a 7th place finish in the G3 Bourbon Stakes at KEE on Oct. 6. Goes to the main dirt track for the first time after that one, where a Breeders’ Cup colt won. Lost by only 5 that day, by the way. Barn hits with .17% of those going to the main track. Hits with .20% of those cutting back from a route to a sprint, too. Gets a new rider who has hit for .17% with this barn over the last 60 days. Love the work here on Nov. 2. Nice. Could be tough in a stalking position. Super Dormy (8) is another moving to the dirt for the first time today. Ran in a Stakes event at KY Downs last time out. Lost by less than 5 that day. Another BC horse, Chimney Rock, ran second in that one. Won on debut and the runner-up came right back to win. Has the breeding to convert to the dirt. Look out. Munn Passage (4) is my Upset Special of the Day, though. This 2YO son of Munnings is yet another moving from the turf to the dirt. But look who beat this one last time out. Look, please. Four Wheel Drive. Wow. Impressive winner in the Breeders’ Cup over the grass, after winning a major 2YO Stake in NY before that. Gets a top dirt rider today, who is hot right now. Has been working lights out in Chicago. Trainer hits with .20% of those that are converting over to the dirt. Could be a nice price at 12-1 in the ML. I’m in. I bet the 6-4 across the board and then box the top 3 numbers in the exacta. I key the 6-4 over/under the 8-3-9-2-5-1-7 in two smaller versions.

10th: 5-13-7-6/10-3-11-2-9-14/(16)-(15)-8-4…G3 Commonwealth Turf Stakes…What a race. Seriously. Wow. Handicappers dream and nightmare at the same time. You can make some serious cash in this one, but, here’s the issue. You have to pick the right ones. And, there’s a ton of possibles in this one. I will go with second Upset Special of the Day here with Marquee Prince (5), who is at 8-1 in the ML. This 3YO son of Cairo Prince has been working all summer right beside the Champion filly Monomoy Girl. Stride for stride. Until Monomoy Girl went to the sidelines with an injury. Marqueee Prince went on to win a race at Indy Grand. Has a win over this track. Has 3 wins in 6 tries over grass. Has the local education and the talent. I go in here. Faraway Kitten (13) will be closing with a purpose, and gets one of the top grass riders in the world on top today. Has a win and 2 thirds in 3 previous runs over this grass course. Has 5 wins and 3 thirds in 12 career starts. Chance. Tracksmith (7) could fare better with a clean run late; Spectacular Gem (6) has an abundance of speed to be dangerous, although there is a lot of speed in this tilt; and I can’t leave out either Armistice Day (10) or Journeyman (14), and the latter is 20-1 in the ML. That one is fully capable of throwing a huge effort at them in here. I bet the 5-14 across the board. Take serious note. I will box the 5-14-13 in one exacta. I will box the 5-14-7 in another. And, I will key the 5-14 over/under the 13-7-6-10-3-11-2-9 in two smaller versions. Going for a score here.

11th: 8-10-5/7-1/4-2…New York Style (8) gets my nod in today’s finale. This 3YO son of Malibu Moon cost a hefty $360,000 to purchase at the 2017 KEE September Yearling Sale. Now, he’s offered up for $40,000. Gets the blinkers for the first time, and the barn hits with .21% of those. Was claimed for $30,000 last time out, when he ran a huge second at KEE. Barn hits with .25% of those making the first start for the new connections. And, the barn hits with .27% when bumping the steed up a notch in class, too. Adds up for me. I bet the 8 to win/place/show and then box the top 3 numbers in the exacta. I will key the 8 over/under all the numbers listed 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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