UPDATED: McLean’s Selections for Churchill Downs on Sunday, June 16 — Father’s Day

Day Results10-4-3-3
2019 Overall 872872/318-306-412
Win % of Top Pick36.47%
Payoff % of Top 3 Picks Overall39.60%
2019 Top Pick in the Money –597 of 87268.46%
Top Selection ITM / CD 199-29667.23%
Top Selection Win / CD 108-29636.49%
“Key Horses” @ CD 45-15-11-633.33%
“Key Horses” in 2019 160-62-34-1938.75%

While I still have to tabulate all of the results from Saturday Night’s Card (long night and had to sleep fast), we did give you the winner of the G2 Stephen Foster and the G3 Matt Winn. Our top picks did run second in the G2 Fleur de Lis and the G2 Regret Stakes.


We nailed exactas in all of those events.

So, we had a productive night as we head into this Father’s Day. Emotional day for me and many of you, too. Lost my Dad a couple of years ago just a few days before my birthday. Not been a day since that I haven’t thought about him, in some way or in some thought.

Self made. Tough. Spirited. Opinionated. Never saw him afraid of anyone or anything in his life. And, deeply religious and proud of it. He didn’t stand very tall off the ground. Probably about 5-foot-5 at the zenith. But he stood tall in the way he lived his life; how he treated others; and how he worked. Man, this man could work. And, he and my beautiful mom were married for over 70 years. Seven. Zero. Years. Never spent a day away. And, to be honest. I never, ever, ever saw or heard them exchange a strong word to each other. Not once. Amazing.

Guess more than anything, I just miss knowing that he was always right there in his house in Midway, KY. He was always right there. Always. If I needed him, I knew where to go. If I just needed to see him, I knew where he would be. Never had to worry. Knew where he always stood. Literally. Figuratively. Always. Miss that. Miss him. Miss him, so.

Here’s a closer look at today’s card, with abbreviated comments today:

1st: 6-3-1/2-5…A short field, but a competitive one for this non-winners of 3 races lifetime for the fillies and mares. I go to the outside and Harbor Lights (6). Has been running against tougher until dropped in for this price tag last time out. Was the odds-on favorite, but spit the bit after pushing the pace in the early stages of that two-turn event. Barn hits with .26% of those returning as a beaten favorite, and this one should definitely benefit from the shorter distance today. Big plus there. They thought enough of this one to run her in the G3 Indiana Oaks and the G3 Fantasy Stakes at one time. I give her another chance here. I bet the 6 to win/place/show and then box the top 3 numbers in one exacta. I key the 6 over/under all the numbers in two smaller versions.

2nd: 4-2/3-6/1…Hitch (4) is another who hails from the barn of Steve Asmussen, like our top pick in the first race. This 3YO Tapit filly cost $500,000 at an OBS Sale in April 2018. Has raced 4 times since then, with a second and a third in the last two tries. Barn hits with .21% in the MSW category, and it normally takes the sons and daughters of the great sire to learn their way to the finish line. Once they do, though? Lights out. This one is about ready to turn on the lights, IMO. I bet the 4 to win/place/show and then box the 4-2 solidly in one exacta. I key the 4 over/under the rest of the numbers in two smaller versions.

3rd: 8-6/5-3-2-7-4/1…Gentrified (8) lost all chance in her first start over this track on May 30. Clipped heels at the start and trailed throughout. Before that debacle, though, this 5YO gelded son of Malibu Moon had hit the board in 7 straight. Had 4 wins in that mix. Been running against tougher. Looks like he can make redemption in this one, returning as the beaten favorite last time out. Barn hits with .29% of those kind. I bet the 8 to win/place/show and then box the 8-6 in one exacta. I key the 8 over/under all the numbers in two smaller versions.

4th: 1-4-2/5-3-6-7/(9)…What a nice sprint over the grass (if it stays on the sod, and let’s hope that it does.) This will mark the long awaited return of the undefeated Shang Shang Shang (1). This gal ripped off two impressive wins in a row last Spring, culminating in a win in the Group 2 Norfolk Stakes at Royal Ascot — against the colts. Shows a steady stream of works for this return bout, and has the speed to relish the rail in this spot. Don’t know if she is cranked, but the trainer is known to pounce off the layoff or in a first start. If right, she’s really talented. Midnight Fantasy (2) is a Louisiana-bred, but a talented one. Makes her career debut on the sod today. May relish at a nice price. I bet the 1 to win/place and then box the top 3 numbers in the exacta. I key the 1-2 over/under the 4-5-3-6-7 in two smaller versions.

5th: 3-8/9-7/1-5-2-4…Just two races back, Flat Out Beautiful (3) ran a game second to Night Ops down at Oaklawn Park. That one has turned out to be really OK, and our top pick set the pace from the get-go until the last 1/8th. Drops in class for a trainer having a super nice meet here and may improve with the shorter distance today, too. Sharp work here on June 12. Rider has only one win in 37 mounts this meet, but capable. Zapper Van Winkle (8) is a 3YO son of Ghostzapper, and drops into the MCL ranks for the first time. Will stretch out to the route distance for the first time here, and the barn hits with .15% of those. Should like the added distance and the work on June 8 was very nice, indeed. Chance. I bet the 3-8 across the board and then box those two in one exacta. I will key the 3-8 over/under the 9-7 in two more, as well.

6th: 5/2-(13)-10-9/7-1-3-8…Spackle (5) gets a huge class drop after spitting the bit last time out and fading fast. But that was the first start of the year, and this one did run 31/4 lengths behind Positive Spirit here last Fall. Loses the blinkers after the last race debacle and gets a hot, solid rider in the saddle again. Barn hits with .16% of those making the second start off the layoff, and with .26% of those cutting back from a route event to a sprint distance. Big chance for me. I bet the 5 to win/place/show and then key the 5 over/under the 2-(13)-10-9-7-1. 

7th: 10-8-2/4-3/1-7-9…Jimmy Joe (10) breaks from the far outside, but does have some tactical speed and with this rider taking the reins today, should be able to get to a nice stalking position early. Love the race two back when second against tougher. Stretched out last time and faded. Gets back to a sprint distance today, for a barn that has hit with .22% of the 49 starters this year, and with .20% of those making the second start after the claim purchase. Huge rider switch here. May be tough in this spot. Salt Air (8) drops huge for the first start for a new trainer and the initial start of 2019. Barn hits with .26% of those making the debut, and this one has been working OK for the first try. Gets the meet’s leading rider and the jockey has won with .32% of the 28 rides for this barn over the past 60 days. Tough combo. I bet the 10-8 across the board and then box the top 3 numbers in one exacta. I key the 10-8 over/under the 2-4-3 in two smaller versions.

8th: (14)-(15)/7/8-5-2/11-9-1/3-10-4…If this one comes off the grass and is moved to the main track, I will go solidly behind Chess Chief (14), who is entered for the Main Track Only. This 3YO son of Into Mischief ran 5th behind Vekoma in the G2 Blue Grass and was 6th behind Laughing Fox in the Oaklawn Invitational. Has shown some real potential. Beantown Boys (15) is another top contender if the race is moved to the dirt. In 27 lifetime starts, he has a 5-7-4 record and should fit with this group. If it stays on the grass, I will single Kid Lemuel (7). This one just broke his maiden last time out when running here on May 25. But in 4 lifetime tries, he has a win and 2 seconds. One of those seconds was against the very talented and accomplished Henley’s Joy last July at Ellis Park. Potential to step up against winners for the first time with a top notch skill set. If it is moved to the dirt, I bet the 14-15. If it stays on the grass, I go with the 7. I key those over/under the other numbers listed. Love the 7 if it stays on the sod.

9th: 1A-1/2-5-6/3-7…Either part of the entry looks to be good enough to win this one, but I would prefer that Carrizo (1A) would be the one to stay in the race. This 3YO daughter of Paynter has not been a factor in the last two outs, but that last race was a tough, tough Stakes event and the winner is still undefeated. Way overmatched there. Now, drops into the claiming ranks? She has the potential to smoke these. Mgr Treasure (1) won at first asking at Sam Houston in January. Has run just OK at Oaklawn since then. Barn hits with .21% of those that drop into the claiming ranks for the first time. I bet the 1A to win/place/show if she stays in. If not, this one becomes a lot tougher to predict. I bet the 1A over/under all the numbers if she stays. I box the 1-2-5-6 in a small exacta if she departs.

10th: 12-(13)-7-8/11-1-(15)/5-4-(16)-3…The final race of the day is slated to be a 5.furlong sprint over the grass. If it stays on the sod, I will go strong with the far outside filly Holiday Time (12). Not the most idea post, but this one returns as the beaten favorite from the last time out when she was 5 wide into and out of the turn. Not a good trip at all. She does have some speed that she can use early and often with a clean break. Best run to date came from the #11 post position — three starts back. Barn hits with .26% of those returning as the beaten favorite and with .15% converting from the dirt to the turf. Yes It’s Ginger (7) and the first time starter, Nikki Beach (8), both have a shot in here, too. The latter worked so well on June 11 that you can’t dismiss this lady — who is from a Stakes-winning mare, who has thrown a grass winner. Lots to like at a price. I bet the 12-8 across the board and then box the top 3 numbers in the exacta. I will key the 12-8 over/under the 13-7-11-1-5 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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