McLean’s Selections For Churchill Downs on Saturday, Sept. 29

Day Results10-2-4-4
2018 Overall 1467542-534-641
Win % of Top Pick36.95%
Payoff % of Top 3 Picks Overall39.01%
Top Selection ITM / CD: 60-8669.77%
Top Selection Win / CD: 29-8633.72%

What a wonderful day of horse racing all over these great United States of America. Grade 1 races dot the calendar, as we get ready and closer for this year’s Breeders’ Cup — to be held at Churchill Downs on the first weekend in November.

For today, though, some great events — including the last night of racing at Churchill Downs, as well, for 2018. “Downs After Dark” is always a festive and wonderful occasion, and tonight’s card is almost as spectacular as the view and the weather.

Let’s take a look at tonight’s card here under the Twin Spires:

1st: 6-5-1/4/2-3…We have a nice turf event to kick start tonight’s activities, and I will focus on the top three numbers in my listing. Winning Envelope (6) is a More Than Ready filly who comes from the barn of Chris Block. We may not know much of this trainer, because he normally stays in Chicago. But he can flat out train. Numbers are a bit down this year, but this filly looks the part. Won easily over the all-weather on debut in mid-August, and immediately found herself in the Arlington-Washington Lassie. Ran tough for half of that one before tiring out. Now, gets the grass for the first time and the barn hits with .12% of those. Plus, she is second time on Lasix, and the barn hits with .25% of those. Like her in this spot. My Jilly (5) had a rough go of it down at KY Downs in the last out. Never got a chance in a Juvenile Fillies Stakes event there. Is much better than she showed there, though, and gets a nice rider switch. Slime (1) is a Quality Road filly who broke her maiden last time out, coming from well off the pace to do so. Trainer switches her to the turf today for the first time, and wins with .10% of those making this surface switch. Trainer hits with .18% of those graduating up to face winners for the first time. I bet the 6 to win/place/show and then box the top 3 in the exacta. Tough event here.

2nd: 6-7-1-3/4-2-5…Another wide open affair, and one hard to sort through and out. I will use all four of the first numbers, led by Shoeless (6) — a 2YO colt by Goldencents, who gets .19% winers on first try. Nice number there. Trainer scores with .11% of first time starters, and the dam of this one has a winner from the first two starters. Super work on Sept. 22. Could be ready. Dean (8) has raced three times and showed up for a second here earlier this meet. Now, wheels right back with another significant drop in class for a trainer that spots his horses aggressively. Ban has 3-3-2 record in just 13 starts this meet, and this one comes from a Stakes-winning mare. One to beat. Charge to Victory (1) and Tax (3) both have some credentials to give their connections hope in here, as well. I bet the 6 to win/place/show and then box the 6-8 solidly in the exacta. I will key the 6-8 over/under the 1-3.

3rd: 6/3-4/9-5-10…My first key horse comes right here with my third straight #6 — wow, is it Halloween already? Sworn Silence (6) comes from the barn of Brad Cox, who is having another nice meeting. This 3YO filly converts back from the turf to the dirt, and the barn hits with .26% of those surface switchers. Before the last race experiment on the sod, she had a second and a win in the two previous. Really nice set of works recently, and the barn’s top jock gets up. They have combined to win at a .33% clip over the last 45 mounts together. My first Best Bet of the Day. I bet the 6 to win/place/show and then key the 6 over/under the 3-4. I will key the 6 over (only) the 9-5-10 in a much smaller version.

4th: 9-5-10/11-2-1/7-8-4…I will spread out again in this spot, using the top 3 as the keys. My Girl Rocket (9) got her first race taste at Saratoga the end of August. Ran super until tiring late in that one at huge odds. If she gained any conditioning and experience at all, she should be really tough in this spot with the addition of blinkers for the first time. Trainer hits with .16% of those getting the equipment. Barn also scores with .20% of those making the second start. Ginny (5) has a second and a third in the last two outs and could have won either or both. Converts back to the dirt today, and the barn hits with .13% of those. More Than Ready filly out of a Stakes-placed mare. Solid breeding. Kajawa (10) goes for a very under-rated barn, who has a win and a second in three starts this meet. She gets to saddle this one for the first time today, but the filly has two seconds and a third in three previous starts. Ran second to Winning Envelope two starts back. Watch the first race to see how that one does and key here off that performance. I bet the 9 to win/place/show and then box the top 3 numbers in the exacta.

5th: 9-10-8/11-1-3/4…Another spread race for me, but I will try to get the ML favorite Quiet Company (9) home in front. This one switches to the barn of Stanley Hough, who has come back to training. Worked very well here on Sept. 20 under his care. Has two nice thirds, which could have been wins, at Saratoga this summer. Beaten as the favorite in the last. Love this one here. Carrizo (10) is a first timer for the barn of Steve Asmussen — who came into this meet as the leading 2YO trainer at Churchill Downs this year. This Paynter filly is training well for the debut, and she gets the barn’s top rider up. Seaside Dancer (8) is another making the debut. Trainer hits with .19% of those, and the dam has 3 winners from 3 starters. Daughter of Fed Biz, who the breeders have been raving about. Let’s see. I bet the 9 to win/place/show and then box the top 3 in the exacta. I will key the 9 over the 10-8-11-1-3 in another one.

6th: 4/3-1A-1/5-6-2-7-8…I will key J Boys Echo (4) in this spot today, as he will return to the races for the first time since Feb. 19 and for only the second time this year. This one has been training lights out for Dale Romans and he does have a Graded Stakes win to his credit — having won the G3 Gotham Stakes last year on his way to the KY Derby. Things did not work out well on the Triple Crown trail, though, and he is now back starting over. Talented one. Let’s see him roll today. I bet the 4 to win/place and then key the 4 over (only) the 3-1A-1 in one exacta. I play over the rest of the numbers in a smaller version.

7th: 5-8/6-3-10/4-7…Jefferson Cup… A nice turf event is carded here, and I will zoom in on the top 2 numbers in this sequence — led by Hot Springs (5). This son of Uncle Mo cost $750,000 in the 2016 Keeneland September Sale, and he is showing a lot of potential in the first 5 races. Last time out, he lost to Raging Bull — one of the best turf horses this country has to offer. Trainer is doing very well for this ownership team, and this one is a perfect 2-for-2 over this sod, too. Captivating Moon (8) has run up against some good ones this year, as well. Ran fifth to Carrick two back in the G1 Secretariat, and then was second in the G3 American Derby before that. Best run this year, though, may have been his second to Maraud here in the G2 American Turf on Derby Day. Talented son of Malibu Moon, and will be kicking it home late. I bet the 5-8 across the board and then box those two solidly in one exacta. I key the 5-8 over the 6-3-10 in one smaller version.

8th: 7-6/4-1/2-5…G3 Ack Ack Stakes…I will focus on the top 2 numbers in this race, led by C Z Rocket (7). This one ripped off 3 straight wins to start his career last year, and the only downer was a 6th place finish in the G1 Malibu Stakes at Santa Anita the day after Christmas. Was shipped right back here and didn’t make another start until June. Has come back very nicely and ran behind a real good one in Whitmore in the G1 Forego on Aug. 25. Will be stretching out to the 1 mile distance for only the second time, but the previous try was an easy win over J Boys Echo here last November. Solid pick. Seeking the Soul (6) will come running late, but this distance may be a tad short for his best effort. Still, he has a win and 2 seconds in three tries at the flat mile, and he is 2-1-2 in 7 starts here. Won the G1 Clark Handicap here last November, so loves this home base. Can’t dismiss. I bet the 7 to win/place/show and then box the top 2 solidly in one exacta. I key the 7-6 over/under the 4-1 in two more smaller versions.

9th: 1-6/4-5-8/7-3…G3 Lukas Classic…The top billing of the night, and I, too, will be rooting for some of the best in here — as they try to punch their ticket to the Breeders’ Cup Classic. But I am going with my Upset Special. Honorable Duty (1) simply loves this track. In 9 starts here, he has 4 wins and 3 seconds. And, the last time out here — back in June — he ran a nice second to Pavel in the G1 Stephen Foster. He loves to come back to the races fresh, as well. Last three times he has run off a layup, he has won. With a win today, he would top $1 million in career earnings. Solid performer. Mind Your Biscuits (6) is one of the best sprinters in the world. No doubt. But the connections have been trying to stretch him out this year to take a whack at the Breeders’ Cup Classic. With all the defections in the male division, it was a solid strategy. He ran second to Diversify in the G1 Whitney last time out and was beaten just a nose in the G1 Met Mile before that. But…I am still skeptical he wants this long a ground. I bet the 1 to win/place/show and then key the 1 over/under the 6-4-5-8. I key the 1 over the 7-3 in a smaller version.

10th: G1 President of the United Arab Emirates Cup…This is a 11/16-mile event for Arabians, and I will have to admit to you that I have no idea how to handicap these types. Many may say I don’t have a clue about Thoroughbreds, either, but at least I have a fighting chance there. If pressed, I probably would lean on Quick and Rich (2). He ran second in a G1 last time out at Delaware Park. But that’s more of a guess than a calculation. Good luck here.

11th: 9-5-3/1-2-7-8…I will focus on the top 3 numbers in today’s finale, led by Bronze Charm (9). If you are still awake and at the track at this late hour, you will note that this one ran third behind Talk Veuve To Me in her only previous start and that one won the Indiana Oaks. The runner-up in that race came right back to win, as well. This one gets the class drop tonight, and I think the works indicate that she is ready enough. I bet the 9 to win/place/show and then box the top 3 numbers in the exacta.

For our selections in the G1 Awesome Again and the G1 Jockey Club Gold Cup, check out our podcast on the home page, and our interview with resident expert Ed DeRosa

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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