McLean’s Selections for Churchill Downs on Sunday, Nov. 10

Day Results11/2-6-6
2019 Overall 1,2951,295/455-465-582
Win % of Top Pick35.14%
Payoff % of Top 3 Picks Overall38.66%
2019 Top Pick in the Money –849 of 1,29565.56%
Top Selection ITM / CD Nov 66-10264.71%
Top Selection Win / CD Nov 39-10238.24%
“Key Horses” @ CD Nov 17/7-4-041.18%
“Key Horses” in 2019 206-79-41-2238.35%

We only notched two wins out of the 11 events held at Churchill Downs on a beautiful Saturday in the Bluegrass. Not the number or percentage we are looking for; hoping to get; and able to truly capitalize on.


But we hit for exactas that returned $15.10, $18.80, $27.20, $21.30, $34.50, and $12.50 for each $1 played.

And, we were able to eek out a nice Pick 3 in the middle of the card, too.

Salvaged. Escaped. And? Advanced.

Here’s a look at the Sunday card. Lots of sunshine. Let’s go live.

1st: 1A-9-5/7-2-1…Here’s hoping that trainer Dane Kobiskie chooses to use Wallet (1A) out of the two that he entered for the initial contest of the day. This 4YO Florida-bred appears to be the better betting option of the two. This one is coming off a huge effort at KEE in the last outing. Made all the lead and pace throughout until getting caught right at the wire. Now, this one shortens back up to a sprint after that two-turn effort. Barn hits with only .08% of those cutting back from a route to a sprint, but this one will be making the second start after the long, long layup and the barn hits with .21% of those kind. And, the cut back made help the airwaves. Trebulski (9) gets a lot of changes for today. May end up with the biggest change of them all — in the winner’s circle for the first time. Will get the saddle from a new trainer for the first time. Gelding with get the blinkers for the first time. Barn hits with .20% of those kind. Will drop from a $40,000 price tag to just $15,000 today. Barn hits with .43% of those getting this kind of class relief. And, the horse will get James Graham in the saddle for the first time. He has won half of the two starts for this trainer in the last 60 days. Love the work here on Nov. 4, to boot. My pick. Atmos (5) drops from $50,000 to this level after one poor outing back in April. Gets the meet’s top rider up. Good to see him back riding for this barn operation. They combined for many wins in the past. I bet the 9 — take note — to win/place/show and then box the top 3 in one exacta. I will key the 9 over/under all the numbers in two softer versions. (P.S.: I bred and owned Seek N Justice (6) until he was claimed off of me back in March. Still rooting for the little guy.)

2nd: 6-4/3-7/8-1…Monday Confession (6) has hit the board in each of the last 3 outings and ran a huge one as the beaten favorite at KEE on Oct. 24. Barn hits with .14% of those returning as a beaten favorite, and looks to have the speed to be able to carve out a good trip in this one. Stuart Hall (4) sinks to the bottom level in here today. Has been off since July, but the barn hits with .12% of those returning from that kind of a layup. Gets the meet’s top rider, and the barn is due for the win. I bet the 4 — take note — to win/place/show and then box the top 2 in one exacta. I will key the 4 over/under all the numbers in two smaller versions.

3rd: 5-9-2/3-4/8-6…Despina (5) gets the nod in tis one. Nearly won the last time out, and drops another notch in the price tag category In 12 starts at this distance, she has only 1 win. But does have 4 seconds and a third, too boot. Has hit the board in the last 3 outings and 4 of the last 5. Young rider gets the assignment for the first time today. Interesting. Fortressa (9) has run four 2nds in a row. Four of them. That’s hard to do. Even if you are trying. In 19 career starts, has only 1 win. But has 4 seconds and 3 thirds. May want to key underneath? Aspens Little Zip (2) goes from turf to dirt today, but the barn hits with .33% of those and there is an 18-horse sample size for that category. Gets a huge rider switch. Last time seen here, ran third over a fast track. Interesting. Blue Chicory (4) interests me, too. Will be running for the second time since a 21-month layup. Didn’t show much at KEE on Oct. 20 in the return bid. But in this group? Chance. At a number. I bet the 5 to win/place/show and then box the top 3 in one exacta. I will key the top 3 over/under the 3-4 in two smaller versions.

4th: 1-6-7/9/4-10-2-3…Mica Bay (1) drops into the MCL ranks for the first time and the barn hits with .21% when it does that. the work at the Churchill Downs Training Center on Nov. 2 was spot on. And, the barn can get them ready and fresh off the bench. Looks poised for a big effort in this one. Mt. Mitchell (6) gets another drop in the class ranks for this one, too. Deep, deep closer gets a top rider to return to the saddle. Had issues in both of the first two starts. If he can get a clean run, he may be closer today. Returns as a beaten favorite, and the barn hits with .13% of those kind. Tallestofthetall (7) goes to the dirt today, and drops in class for a top notch trainer. Has a win in only other start here this meet. Only ships when he wants or needs to, as well. Routes for the first time today. Barn hits with .27% of those. Gets a top rider. Beware here. I bet the 1-7 across the board and then box the top 3 in the exacta. I will key the 1-7 over/under the 6-9-4-10 in two smaller versions.

5th: 6-4-2/7/1-5…Spokane Eagle (6) gets a new trainer and a new barn operator for the first time today. But this 5YO gelded son of Speightstown is used to new digs. Been claimed 4 different times this year. Moves from the West Coast to the East for the first time now, though, and looks to figure prominently in the spot. New barn hits with .25% of those making the debut with the new connections. Love the work here on Nov. 1. Rider change is a positive. Looks solid here. Red Clay Magic (4) moves up in class after winning for fun here back in September. Has the gas to be tough on the front end, if nothing goes with him. Has a win and a second in 3 starts here previously. Likes the distance, too, with 3 wins and a second in 10 starts. Got to go and run down. Cautious Giant (2) takes a huge class drop after two miss-fires in a row Barn hits with .22% of those making this kind of a class drop. Gets a new rider, who should fit just nicely aboard this stalker/closer. This one ran 2nd in a Stakes at Gulfstream back in May. Find that stride again today? Long gone. I bet the 6-2 across the board and then box the top 3 in one exacta. I will key the 6-2 over/under the 4-7-1-5 in two smaller versions.

6th: 2-7-9/1-8/6-5-4…Ike Walker (2) was claimed last time out by a top barn operator. Hits with .22% when starting a new acquisition for the first time. Hits with .30% of those that the new trainer drops off the claim purchase, too. Puts the barn’s go-to rider in the saddle. The duo has gone 9-1-4 in the last 28 mounts together. Take note. Trainer used to have this one before, earlier this year. Ran two really good ones for much higher price tags. The Predictor (7) is 5-2 in the ML, and may go off as the PT favorite, as well. After all, this 7YO gelded son of Ocean Indy won by 13 last time out at Charles Town. Complete domination. And, he gets the meet’s top rider today. Chasingthegame (9) ran a wide one last time out and that had to compromise his chances at KEE. Before that, though, won two in a row at Belterra. Has a chance here. I bet the 2 to win/place/show and then box the top 3 in one exacta. I will key the 2 over/under the rest of the numbers in two smaller versions.

7th: 3-8-2/6-12-(13)-5-1…This is a turf event to be contested at the sprint distance of 5.5 furlongs, and I will saddle up with Elle’s Town (3). This one has run this specialty race distance 4 times previously. Has a win and a second. Had a rough trip in the last outing. Now, returns with a new rider — who is just coming off an injury. I bet they try to go to the front or near it today. Love the work on Nov. 2. Looks ready. Even Beat (8) is another from the barn of Mike Maker, like our first choice. This one gets Corey Lanerie up, too. Was in the same rough race at KEE as our top choice. But ran behind our top choice two races back. This one is the deep, deep closer of the duo. Look for late. Could be a Maker exacta. Bentley’s Dream (2) has the look of a serious contender, coming from a top notch barn operation. Gets the blinkers for the first time today. Should be sharper in the early going. I bet the 3-2 across the board and then box the top 3 in one exacta. I will key the 3-2 over/under the 8-6-12-(13)-5-1 in two smaller versions.

8th: 9-1-3/12/7-5-4-6/2-8…We’re Still Here (9) gets a huge class drop for this one, in an attempt to find the winner’s circle for the first time. In 5 career starts, to date, the 2YO son of Union Rags has 2 wins and a third. This one cost $270,000 at the 2018 KEE September Yearling Sale. Now being offered up for $50,000. Bet this one finds a new home after this race today. Has the ability to close, and gets a route for the first time. Barn hits with .17% of those. And, with .33% of those going from two sprints to a route. Was the beaten favorite last time out. Gets the blinkers added, too, and love the work here on Nov. 3. Adds up for me. Got to respect both Devil’s Drama (1) and Land Grant (3). Both have solid credentials and could be tough to beat in here, as well. But… I bet the 9 to win/place/show and then key the 9 over/under all the numbers listed in the exactas.

9th: 7-6-9/2-8-4/1-5…Empty Tomb (7) has won the last won in very impressive fashion up at Laurel Park. Now, the 3YO son of Speightstown travels South for this spot for a trainer that is top notch. Barn has won with .21% of the 280 starters this year. Has won with .26% of those that ship in to race. Has won with .23% of those that won the last race. Gets a red-hot rider for this one. And, I love, love, love the 6-1 ML odds. Doubt the odds will stay there, but I will make this one my Upset Special of the Day & a Key Play of the Day, as well. It won’t be easy, though. Pirate’s Punch (6) is really good right now, with Top 3 finishes in each of the last 4 outings. Couple of nice wins in that mix, too. Night Ops (9) comes from a top-notch barn operation and has a win and 2 seconds in 4 previous runs here. Faced some real good ones this year, including the last two outings. One to beat, IMO. I bet the 7 to win/place/show and then box the top 3 in one exacta. I will key the 7 over/under all the numbers in two smaller versions, too.

10th: (15)-3-9/12/8-5/(17)-(18)-(13)-7-4…The last race of the weekend is a nice turf event for the MSW level of 2YOs. What a field has been assembled, and some waiting in the wings to gain entry, too. If Duke of Carthania (15) can get in from the AE List, I have to use. Two really good runs in the first two starts, and the winner of the last has come back to win again, too. If not…Then, I will go in search of…Midnight Jostar (3) really improved when moving to the grass last time out. Came running from the back with a huge move late. Nearly caught a good one at the wire. Look for more out of this one today. But will desperately need a clean trip in the lane. Bless the Kitten (9) ran behind our top pick in the career debut. Was wide and made a belated effort. Barn hits with much higher percentage on the 2nd out than the first. Wins at a .20% clip on the second route race of the career, too. Gets a top rider to take the assignment. Take note of that. I bet the 15 if he gets in. If not, I bet the 3-9 across the board and then box those two in the exacta. I will key the 3-9 over/under the 12-8-5 and some of the other AE horses, if they get in, too.

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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