McLean’s Selections for Churchill Downs on Sunday, June 24

Day Results11-4-6-5
Churchill317-109-111-158
Top Pick Win %34.40%
Top Pick ITM % 206-30966.70%
Payoff % of Top 3 Picks at CD39.70%
2018 Overall 906334-343-402
Win % of Top Pick36.90%
Payoff % of Top 3 Picks Overall39.70%

We have been on a bit of a roll of late, and would like to finish out the weekend with a flurry today. Here’s a closer look at Sunday’s card at Churchill Downs:

1st: 4-6-3-5-2…Seeyouatthedisco (4) gets the slight edge in this one, after being claimed last time out at the bargain basement level. Easily stormed home as the much-the-best winner on May 27, and now will get a Starter Allowance race again — where he ran second last April. The year layup didn’t seem to bother this 7YO mare last time out and she has won multiple races in a row before. Trainer hits with .19% on the first start after the purchase, and this may turn out to be a good buy for this barn — in search of the first win this meet. Or Bird (6) was claimed three races back and ran away with an easy win at Belterra last time out for a trainer having a superb meet here (.38% wins) this meet. Conditioner hits with .11% of those returning from a win, and picks up a solid rider for this one. Chilean Queen (3) and Myositis Mystique (5) are evenly matched, but I think a notch below the top two choices. I bet the 4 to win/place/show and then box the top 2 numbers solidly in one exacta. I key the 4 over all the other numbers listed in a smaller version.

2nd: 5-4-7-1-6-3-2…I concentrate on the top three numbers in this sequence, led by Torri’s On My Mind (5). The rider of this one got off to an awful start this meet, but has inched his way back to respectability of late and has a 4-2-0 record in the last 14 mounts over the past week. This one caught a sloppy track last time out and faded completely out of contention after some torrid, crazy fractions. Comes back today, and with a more realistic pace scenario could be a huge factor. Trainer hits with .27% of those returning after a loss as the favorite. Playful Union (4) is 6-1 ML odds, but has been training very well for a trainer have a solid meet (9-8-10 record in 48 starts here). This one is training very well, to boot, with a bullet move at Keeneland on June 6. Dam has 4 winners from 5 starters. Socata (7) ran a nice second at this level last time out, despite going 5-wide. Lost the lead very late in that one, and now has 3 seconds and a third in 10 career starts. Use underneath? I bet the 5 to win/place/show and then box the top 3 in one exacta. I key the top 3 over the rest in a smaller version.

3rd: 7-5-2-4-3-6-8…Once again, I have a hard time separating the top 3 choices by very much and key on those numbers. Union Obsession (7) tired while running second when dropped to this same level last time out. Gets a new rider for the first time today for a barn that hits with .23% of those that race in the MC ranks. Worth a shot here. Georgy Girl (5) has run two in a row up at Belterra, which is not the normal formula for getting a win at Churchill Downs. But this trainer hits with .23% of those dropping into the MC ranks, and this one did run third on debut at Keeneland in April. Trainer is sneaky good. Lady Bay (2) was claimed two races back for a lot more money than she’s being offered for today, but she had an awful trip last time out and this trainer does hit with .23% of those that fit this race description. Barn has only one win in 31 starts this meet, and is looking to get off that skid. I bet the 7-5 across the board and then box the top 3 in one exacta. I key the top 3 over the rest in a smaller version.

4th: 4-5-2-1-7-3…Finally, I get to one of my first “dots” of the day, and I will key on Zulu (4) in this spot. This one really woke up when dropped to this level of the claiming ranks last time out, and he gets another drop today off of that easy win. The trainer hits with .50% of those that drop off a win and .28% with repeating in the claiming company. This one has significant back class, and should be ready to duplicate the last effort in this spot. The Money Monster (5) and Conquest Hiosilver (2) look to be the horses with the best chance of an upset, but that would require regression by the top choice. I bet the 4 to win/place and then key the 4 over/under the number in the exactas. I hit the over more, though.

5th: 1-2-5-3-7-6…The second race in a row that I use a “dot” horse (must use for me), and key off Madison’s Luna (1). This one will be making the grass debut off two awful races in Graded Stakes company. But don’t be fooled. This talented son of Tapit was an impressive winner on debut at Tampa Bay — beating a really, really, really talented one in Getyourmindright. Came back to easily romp in the G3 Hutcheson Stakes at Gulfstream Park, while still running green. Has excuses in the last two, but this one should relish the grass course. Sire power here, and the dam was Stakes placed and has thrown 3 turf winners to date. Love the 7-2 ML odds, but might not get them. A talented son of a gun right here. Cayman’s Cobra (2) is not slouch, either, and has more experience than the horse to his inside. Trainer hits with .16% of those switching from dirt to turf, and this one nearly won the only time he was on the grass before — losing by only a length to a horse that came right back to win a Stakes event. Watch out. Dubby Dubbie (5) has not finished worse than second in the last four outs, and has compiled a record of 1-4-0 on the grass to date. The win came right here the last time out when he closed with a rush. Lost the blinkers in that one and woke up nicely. I bet the 1 to win/place/show and then key the 1 over/under all the numbers listed. More over the 2-5-3-7.

6th: 6-2-4-1-3…I key on the top 3 numbers here, led by Twist Off (6). This one is 8-5 ML odds, but could be a bit vulnerable in this spot since he just broke the maiden last time out and now will face winners for the first time. The win came against easier up at Indy, too, and although he has been much better with the addition of blinkers five races ago, this well-bred son of Curlin may have his hands and hoofs full today. The best case for an upset come come from Terrible Day (2), who broke the maiden in the slop over at Keeneland this April, but has since comeback to run two solid seconds in a row. Trainer scores with .22% in the claiming ranks. Bode’s Maker (4) comes in at 8-1 ML odds, but I like the last race here when he closed with a mighty rush to get up for second. Despite the slow start, he could have won with just a bit more ground — and he gets that today. I like. I bet the 6-4 across the board and then box the top 3 numbers in one exacta. I key the 6-4 over the rest in a smaller version.

7th: 9-4-7-3-10-8-2-1-5…Another highly competitive field matches up in this one, and I will focus on the top 3 numbers in this sequence. Red Right Hand (9) is a 3YO colt by Looking At Lucky that I touted last time out at Keeneland. He was the favorite that day and ran a highly competitive second. That was the second time he has run second in three career starts. Now, he will get over to the grass course, and the trainer hits with .12 of those moving to the lawn for the first time, and with .11% getting this type of surface switch. Nice wok on June 14, and the dam has 2 winners from 4 starters, including one turf winner. Trainer scores with .29% of those beaten as the favorite in the last out. Adds up for me. Sir Sahib (4) is a super talented one that goes for a barn having a very nice meet here (.20% winners out of 75 starters). Ran third to Promises Fulfilled in the career debut, and looked good in his second start over the grass here on May 19. Works very nice since then — including the one here on June 10. Take note. Bail Out (7) comes from the barn of HOF trainer Shug McGaughey. Most of his best horses are already in NY by now, but this one ran a super second here at this distance last time out. That kind of race may be tough to beat today. I bet the 9 to win/place/show and then box the top 3 numbers in the exacta.

8th: 2-1-6-8-7-4…I key on the top two numbers here, led by Rise Above It (2). This one ran a tiring third against much better last time out, but now shortens up to a sprint distance once again. The only time she has been at this 6.5 furlongs, she ran a game second. Trainer does well with these types of layup horses (.50%) and this one is training quite nicely, to boot. Solid rider in the irons. The horse for her to beat, IMO, is Ivy’s College Fund (1), who has had her troubles in the past. Should have won two starts back, but was DQ’d after the rider nearly put Corey Lanerie into the infield. Came back to set crazy-like fractions in the last and tired before the wire. For some reason, the trainer sticks with the rider — who is 0-for-37 this meet. Why? Good question. I bet the 2 to win/place/show and then key the 2 over/under all the numbers listed. More over the 1-6-8 than the others.

9th: 3-2-6-5-7-8-4-(10)…Another highly competitive field where the handicapping gets a little tricky to separate the top contenders. I will tout Beautiful Street (3) on top here, but I do so with some reluctance. I loved this filly’s performance as a 2YO and immediately put her on my “Horses To Watch List.” But she came back after a year layoff and was awful in her first two starts back. She woke up in the last one, when the race was moved off the grass. As the odds-on favorite, she ran second. But she beat only five others that day, due to the scratches. Has been working lights out here — as evidenced by the move on May 26. Can she convert to the afternoon today? Hint of Mint (2) is a filly that I love, by a sire that I love even more — More Than Ready. She lost to SW Mia Mischief last Fall and then returned to catch a Louisiana-bred speciality in the 2018 debut. Now, she moves to the grass for the first time. Trainer hits with .11% of those, and with .23% of those making the second start off a considerable layup. Training well, too. Like this one’s chances at an upset. Lou’s Chardonnay (6) moves up in class today, but she is on a tear, having won two of the last three and nearly all of them. Moves to the grass today, though, and the trainer only scores with .07% of those making this surface switch. Vulnerable, but never been better. I bet the 3-2 across the board and then box the top 3 numbers in this exacta.

10th: 10-7-1-3-2-4-5-12-6…I’ve been waiting for this one for a long time, and I think we can catch some nice prices today in the finale. Straitouttapopcorn (10) is a talented Morning Line filly who has shown some real talent in the mornings for trainer Stephen Lyster — one of the best young people in the game today. If she can get a clean break and move over from the far outside post, she could have a big shot at lighting up the tote board and the winner’s circle. I love the filly and the 15-1 odds, and I jump on board. Won’t be easy, though. Celia’s Song (7) was bet down to even money for the first start here on May 13. Had an awkward start and was troubled again in the turn, that day. A cleaner trip could mean a lot to this one. Miz Shelton (1) draws the golden rail, which has produced 20% winners at this distance this meet. Ran very well on debut before tiring late. Nice middle move to get into contention. May need a shaper start to hold position on the rail, though. I bet the 10 to win/place/show and then key the 10 over/under all the other numbers. My Upset Special of the Day.

Good Luck & All the Best/Gene

She really kicks into gear late. She’s a big filly and she’s obviously learned a lot, and we’ve made a lot of progress with her in the last three months and I was delighted. This was a much tougher race then she’d run in thus far. We were aware of that obviously, but she seems to step through every hurdle we give her. I’m very excited.

“We’re pointing towards the Gazelle and that would be the natural stepping stone to the (Kentucky) Oaks. I’ve never run in the (Kentucky) Oaks, and the possibility is very exciting.”

Linda Rice, trainer of Midnight Disguise
  • 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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