McLean’s Selections for Churchill Downs on Sunday, May 12 — Mother’s Day

Day Results11/2-4-4
2019 Overall 671671/241-244-330
Win % of Top Pick35.92%
Payoff % of Top 3 Picks Overall40.49%
2019 Top Pick in the Money –459 of 67168.41%
Top Selection ITM / CD 59-9462.77%
Top Selection Win / CD 27-9428.72%
“Key Horses” @ CD 15-6-3-240.00%
“Key Horses” in 2019 130-53-26-1540.77%
Upset Special of the Day/ CD 5-0-0-00.00%

It was another cool, wet, damp, soggy and dreary Saturday in the Commonwealth, reminiscent of Derby Day 2019, and we were a bit lacking in the win department again.

But we will heat up. And, get back in the thick of things after a really solid Winter/Spring down at the Fair Grounds.

Had 2 winners out of the 11 races on Saturday. Looking for more on Mother’s Day. (By the way, I have the greatest mom in the entire world. She’s 88 years young; drives her car every day; fixes food for church groups and auctions off her amazing pies and candies to raise money for the youth groups. Amazing woman. Amazing mom. Amazing person. Love her so.)

Here’s a closer look at today’s card at Churchill Downs:

1st: 3-7-2/5-6-4…Top Mention (3) gets a slight drop for this one off a disappointing 6th place effort last time out here on May 2. Does shorten back up to a sprint distance today, though, and the barn hits with .36% of those cutting back from a route race. New rider has ability to move one early one, too. A chance. Albany Fleet (7) is dropping all the way from the $30,000 price tag last time out to an $8,000 bargain basement offer today. Never close to being offered for this low before. Will be converting from the grass to the dirt, and the barn only hits with .06% of those, and with 0-for-6 with those dropping this far in one swoop. Concerns. Southern Candy (2) has not raced since Dec. 6 up at Turfway Park for a barn that has made only 9 starts this entire year. Jockey is relative unknown in these parts and is 0-for-4 at the meet. Does not show a published work since Feb. 20. And, this one was plucked off the claiming table last time out for a mere $7,500. So, what’s up? Did have a second here last November, and has hit the board in 9 of 14 lifetime tries. Looks bet-able. That’s all I got. I bet the 3 to win/place/show and then key the 3 over/under all the numbers listed. Good luck here.

2nd: 7-5-1/2/3-4…Mississippi (7) is a 4YO son of Pioneerof the Nile, who I have liked for a long time. Touted and bet him last out, when he was second at Keeneland. Has a win over this track, and, remember, he ran third to Audible in the G1 Florida Derby last Spring. Has ability. Will he rise today? Alkhaatam (5) broke the maiden last time out by a whopping 71/4-lengths, and now will face winners for the first time. Big step up, but look at the PPs a little closer. Ran fourth to Catholic Boy in the G2 Remsen in 2017. Son of Tapit has some class, and now looks healthy. Beware. Rubus (1) has only 1 win in 14 lifetime tries and that is a hindrance in this bunch. But does have 4 seconds and 2 thirds. Likes to get close. May use underneath. I bet the 7 to win/place/show and then box the top 3 numbers in one exacta. I will key the 7 over/under the 5-1-2-3-4 in two smaller amounts.

3rd: (10)-1-8/6-9-(11)/4-7-5…The first grass race of the day will be contested at the 1-mile distance, and it is a wide open affair. If it moves off the grass to the main track, I really like Tell Your Mama (10) — especially on Mother’s Day, right? This 4YO daughter of Blame is coming off a nice second and has hit the board in the last 5 outs. Three of those wins. Looks good right now. But this one is entered for the “Main Track Only.” If it stays on the grass, I will go to the inside, and hook up with Lexington Grace (1). This one will be making her first career start for the barn of Steve Asmussen, and he hits with .18% of the newcomers. Has not won in awhile — dating back to June 3, 2018. But does have a tidy 5-2-4 record in 21 starts and looks to be training OK for the first race East of the Mississippi. Arabella Bella (8) is coming off a win in the last race down at Gulfstream Park in April. Has been training well of late. Gets a solid grass rider in the irons, too. A chance. I bet the 10 if the race is moved to the main track — with some confidence. If it stays on the grass, I bet with a lot less confidence and go with the 1 across the board. I bet the 1-8-6-9 in a very small exacta box.

4th: 6/3-2/1-4/5…Vicksburg (6) gets a huge drop in class today in his third start after being claimed for $25,000. Not a factor in the last two against much, much tougher — but finds his best level again today. Last time in the claiming ranks, he won two in a row for this rider. Like the 5-1 ML odds, and he is my first Key Play of the Day. My good friend Tom Amoss has the horse to beat, IMO, in Satellite (3). This 4YO gelded son of Smart Strike is coming off a fourth last time out at the Fair Grounds, but will be making his second start off the claim for the new connections — who used to have him before, when he ran a bang-up second. Barn hits with .40% of those making the second start after a purchase. Has a third in three tries here. Lookin at Blessing (2) won by over 7 lengths last time out when making the barn debut. Now loses that condition and has to face tougher. But is training well for the new operation. Don’t dismiss this one. I bet the 6 to win/place/show and then box the top 3 numbers in the exacta. I will key the 6 over/under the 3-2-1-4-5 in two smaller versions.

5th: 6-8-4/5-7-9-2/1A-1…A high-end MCL event, and a tough event to separate the top contenders. But I will go with Encinitas (6), a 4YO Union Rags colt from the barn of Brian Lynch. This one will be getting Lasix for he first time and showed some nice run last summer with a pair of thirds against tougher. Barn hits with .39% when dropping from the MSW ranks to the MCL level for the first time. Gets a  heady rider up for the first time, too. Michael T (8) goes fora barn that wins a lot of races. Will be a first-time gelding and will be making the 2019 debut after an extended layoff from last August. The barn does hit with .23% of those making the second career start and with .15% of those away from the live action this long. Training well for the return. Bourbon Calling (4) comes from the Ian Wilkes barn and will be dropping into the MCL ranks for the first time, too. Barn hits with .18% of those. Cutting back in distance after a mile try over the grass. Barn hits with .21% of those going from a sprint, to a route, and back to a sprint. Bears a little watching. Has a second and three thirds in the first 7 tries. I bet the 6 to win/place/show and then box the top 3 numbers in the exacta.

6th: 6-4-3/8/7-5-(9)-2-1…The second turf race of the day, and this one will go the two-turn route distance of 11/16-miles over the grass. I’ll go with Faraway Kitten (6), from the barn of Mike Maker. Ran third in the Rushaway Stakes last time out when moving over the polytrack. Before that, though, won over the grass at Keeneland last October. Moves into the claiming ranks for the very first time, and the barn hits with .16% of those. A solid claim prospect at this $50,000 level. Still a 3YO, and has ability. Watch for the claim slips to fly here. Please Sit Down (4) drops back into the claiming ranks in the second start off the purchase two back. Won easily for the $30,000 tag at the Fair Grounds two back. Moved up and held his own against much tougher at KEE. Should be a tough out here, for a top barn operation. Horse to beat. Knight’s Cross (3) ran very well against some tough customers earlier this year. Now, after moving East, will get his second start and a lot easier company in this spot. Love the 10-1 ML odds, too. Upset Special of the Day. I will be the 6-3 across the board and then box the top 3 numbers in the exacta. I will key the top 3 numbers over/under the 8 in another two smaller exactas.

7th: 3-5-2/1-9/6-8-7-10…This is one tough MSW race for the 3YOs. Hard to figure at any angle. But I will go with Dominant Force (3), who has been training lights out here in the a.m. for the barn of Mark Casse. Trainer only has 1 win in the first 16 starts this meet, but is sure to heat up soon and it may start right here. This one cost $410,000 to purchase as a 2YO last Spring, and was a no-factor 6th in the debut race at Oaklawn Park in February. Gets a new rider and a new start today, though, and I expect big improvement. Barn hits with .16% of those making the second career start. Picasso (5) will be making the career debut for the Steve Asmussen barn. Son of Tapit has been working very nicely, and the dam of this one has 1 winner from 1 starter. The jockey/trainer team have combined for a 7-1-2 record in the last 18 races together. Could be any kind. Ry’s the Guy (2) has more experience than the top 2, having run 3 times to date. Never off the board yet for a trainer that likes to take his time in the teaching department. Son of Distorted Humor could be primed today. I bet the 3-5 across the board and then box the to 3 numbers in the exacta. I will key the top 3 numbers over/under the 1-9 in two smaller amounts.

8th: 8/5/7-3/6-4-2/1…Coach Rocks (8) is my second Key Play of the Day. The winner of the 2018 Gulfstream Park Oaks ran 7th in the KY Oaks a year ago, but returned to run second in both the G2 Black-Eyed Susan and the G3 Delaware Oaks a year ago. Started the 2019 campaign with a third at Gulfstream Park on Feb. 28, and now gets this one today. Barn hits with .30% of those returning as a beaten favorite, and I love the pick for the saddle assignment. I think he fits this one to a “T” — as in Tyler Gaffalione. I bet the 8 to win/place/show and then key the 8 over/under the 5-7-3. I key the 8 over (only) the rest of the numbers listed.

9th: 7-1-2/3-5-8/6-4…The final grass event of the day is a 5-furlong sprint for the older horses in the barn area. It is a wide, wide, wide, wide open affair — to be sure. I will go with Totally Boss (7). The 4YO gelded son of Street Boss has not been facing the same caliber of competition as some of the others in this spot, but he may be the best fit and best runner — right now. Won the last race at KEE at 5.5-furlongs and now will move up the class order. But training well for a barn that is red, red hot — having won 4 of the first 11 races at this meet. Ran fourth to a good one in World of Trouble at Saratoga last summer, so has some Stakes experience to offer. A chance. Richard’s Boy (1) has won nearly $1 million in a very nice career for trainer Peter Miller. Has developed a case of the “inconsistencies,” of late. Ran two nice seconds after a 14th. Came back to run 13th in the G2 Shakertown at KEE in the last out. Not the same kind in this race today, and may rebound to overpower these. Latent Revenge (2) is another who ran well back in the G2 Shakertown last time out. Did win at the Fair Grounds the race before. Could show up stronger today, but has only 1 win in 11 tries here. I bet the 7 to win/place/show and then box the top 3 in the exacta. I will key the 7-1 over/under the 3-5-8-6-4 in two smaller versions.

10th: 7/8-5-4/2-9-1/3-11…The last race of the day is my final Key Play of the Day. Where Paradise Lay (7) is a 3YO son of Into Mischief who has raced three times to date — with a second and two thirds. Trainer has not hit the board in 4 races here so far this meet, but is a talented horseman. This one is coming off a third over the mud at KEE to start the 2019 campaign, and has trained well since that effort. Look for huge improvement with a move to a top end rider today. Huge rider switch. Could run off in this spot — impressively. I bet the 7 to win/place/show and then key the 7 over/under the 8-5-4-2-9-1-3-11.

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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