McLean’s Selections For Churchill Downs on Sunday, Oct. 27

Day Results10-4-4-4
2019 Overall 1,1791,179/410-418-535
Win % of Top Pick34.78%
Payoff % of Top 3 Picks Overall38.54%
2019 Top Pick in the Money –776 of 1,17965.82%
Top Selection ITM / KEE 85-16152.80%
Top Selection Win / KEE 43-16126.70%
“Key Horses” @ KEE 15-2-2-113.33%
“Key Horses” in 2019 189-72-37-2238.10%

It is never easy saying goodbye.

But…

From a handicapping standpoint?

The Keeneland Fall Meet was anything but successful from the percentages perspective. Our top pick that won during the Keeneland meet was a full 8% points lower than our yearly average, and we have now handicapped 1,179 races this year.

Our top pick that hit the board was 13% points lower.

Our our “Key Horse” was 26% points lower.

So…

The calendar turns. The circuit moves. And, we are hoping that order is restored, as well.

Here we go. The Churchill Downs November Race Meet is one of the best in the land, and it features the 2YOs for much of the month. Today is no exception. Full fields. Youngsters galore. And, plenty of handicapping options.

Here’s a look at our top picks:

Race 1: (11)-(14)-4/9-(13)-2/10-8…The first race of the meet is scheduled to be contested at 1-mile over the turf. Torrential rains beset the Bluegrass on Saturday, and there are questions about the status of the sod races today. So, be sure to take note upon arrival at the oval. If Velvet Crush (11) and/or Tulanian (14) draw in from the AE List, I have to use these two. For obvious reasons. The former ran a winning race, settling for second last time out over the grass at Belmont Park. The latter ran super while going a sprint distance at Saratoga in the last outing. Both should improve off the second race of the career. If not? Then my pick is Emily’s Oasis (4), a daughter of the great Triple Crown winner American Pharaoh. This gal does not show any races or works over an “off track,” but the pedigree suggests that she can handle that just fine, if the race is moved, too. I bet the 4 to win/place/show and then key the 4 over/under the numbers listed in the exacta. If the 11-14 draw in and the race stays on the sod? They are must uses, for me.

Race 2: 1/4/5-6-2-3…There are several Key Plays of the Day on this card for me, and the first comes right here with His Glory (1). This daughter of Mineshaft ran a huge one at odds of 43-1 in the G2 Pocahontas Stakes last time out, when she caught a monster in Lady Daisy. I touted her that day. I touted her the race before, when His Glory was 3rd in the Ellis Park Debutante. Now, I’m real bullish. She drops into an allowance event here after 3 Stakes in a row — 2 of them graded. She has enough speed to carry the group herself, if need be, too. I bet the 1 to win/place and then key the 1 over/under the numbers listed. More on the 4. They could hook up in a big one here. 

Race 3: 7-5-8/2-4-6/1-3-9…Halo Again (7) is a first timer from the barn of Steve Asmussen. This operation hits with .18% on debut and the sire of this one scores with .16% on the first ask, too. Dam has 4 winners from 4 starters and a Stakes winner. And, this one is working nicely. Adds up for me. Ghost Fighter (5) has a race under his girth, and it was a good one. The son of Tapit ran a fast-closing 2nd on debut. But that was at Gulfstream Park on Sept. 29. Competition down there at this time is a little sketchy, at best. Moves to the big leagues today. May be a real threat. We will see. Connections paid $500,000 for this one. But that is just middle of the road for this sire’s progeny. Decision Maker (8) is a first time starter for Buff Bradley. He only wins with 2% of these types from the last 135 starts. But this trainer is a great friend, and this horse is training lights out. He bred and owns this one in partnership with longtime friend and ally Carl Hurst. Don’t dismiss. Could be a real good one. I bet 7 to win/place/show and then box the top 3 in one exacta. I will key the 7-8 over/under the 5-2-4-6-1 in two smaller versions.

Race 4: 1/2-8/6-2-9-5…My second Key Play of the Day comes here with another uno — Tempers Rising (1). This daughter of Bayern has raced 3 times to date and has 2 seconds and a third. Has raced a bit green. To be expected. Has had some issues at the start. Happens. But gets a top rider to take the reins for the first time. Look for huge improvement, and the barn hits with .19% returning as a beaten favorite. Should be closing late. Short stretch at KEE probably didn’t help. Churchill’s stretch may. I bet the 1 to win/place/show and then key the 1 over/under all the numbers listed in the exactas.

Race 5: (15)-7-8/4-2-9/(12)-(14)/5-10-6-1…This is scheduled as another grass event, to be contested at the 1-mile distance. If the race is moved off the sod, I will go strong with Blood Moon (15), who was entered for this race on the Main Track Only. Has raced twice to date. Second both times. Gets a new rider for the first time, and continues to train superbly. Will be tough to hold off if the race is moved to the main track. Connections paid $450,000 for this one at last year’s KEE September Sale. He was the 3rd highest priced yearling for a son of Malibu Moon. If its stays on the grass, I will focus on Longclaw (7) and Proven Strategies (8). The former comes from the barn of Brad Cox, who had about as much success at KEE this October as I did. Back home now. This one ran very well against Peace Achieved at KY Downs and that one is now BCup bound. Big chance here. The latter comes out of two straight Stakes events, including the G1 Summer Stakes at Woodbine. Ran well over a yielding track there and has experience with these conditions. Lost by only 2 when tiring at the end. Gets the best grass rider in these here parts. I bet the 15 to win/place/show if the race is moved. If not, I team up with the 7-8 across the board and then box those 2 in one exacta. I will key the 7-8 over/under the 4-2-9-12-14-5 in two smaller versions.

Race 6: 4-2/9-3/5-7-6-1/8…Field Pass (4) is another who ran up against Peace Achieved on the grass at KEE. Ran a solid race in the G3 Bourbon Stakes that day, finishing 4th. Now, this one will get the dirt for the first time and the barn hits with .17% of those making this surface switch. Son of Lemon Drop Kid comes from a Runaway Groom mare. Dirt on the bottom side of the pedigree, for sure. Has good mud marks, as well, if the track is still wet. Top rider here takes the reins for the first time. Prince James (2) broke the maiden at first asking at Monmouth Park for a barn that wins with .25% of those moving up to face winners for the first time. Heavily bet on debut, and has returned to work extremely well, too. Aggressive rider in the saddle, comes in for this ride. Take note. I bet the 4-2 across the board and then box these 2 in the exacta. I will key the 4-2 over/under the 9-3-5-7-6 in two smaller versions.

Race 7: 8/3-2-5-7/6-10-4-1…My third Key Play of the Day comes here with Answer In (8). This son of Dialed In nearly won on debut here in September. Was off slow and came with a huge rush to nearly catch a good one in South Bend — who is a perfect 2-for-2. Blinkers come off this one today. Barn hits with an amazing .44% of the 39 that have lost the shades this year. Work here on Oct. 19 was spot on. Adds up. Love this one. I bet the 8 to win/place and key over/under the rest of the numbers in the exactas. More on the 3-2-5-7 than the rest.

Race 8: 2-10-4/3/7-9-6-1…Another MSW event, this one going the 11/16-miles, and I will spread out a bit here. Excision (2) figures to be tough with any improvement at all off the last race. Was 3rd here back in September, after making the lead late. Winner that day? Maxfield. Who swept to a huge, impressive and thrilling win in the Claiborne Breeders’ Futurity in his last race, and is now headed West for the BC Juvenile. Wow. Banks Island (10) is another good one. Son of Tapit is a homebred for Godolphin Stables and is trained by Brendan Walsh. Got the blinkers for the first time last out and ran his second straight second. Knocking at the door. Sounion (4) is not to be left out, IMO. Ran third by a whopping 22 lengths last time out. The winner that day? Dennis’ Moment. Who won by 19. Dennis’ Moment is a monster. Period. I bet the 2-4 to win/place/show and then box the top 3 in the exacta. 

Race 9: 4/5-7-3/2-6/1…Rags to Riches Stakes…The first Stakes event of the meet comes here and will be held for the 2YO fillies going a flat mile. Tough race. Test of speed and stamina. And, I love Specially (4) — who is my 4th Key Play of  the Day. This daughter of Tapiture cost $475,000 to purchase at a 2YO Sale earlier this year. Has run once — drawing off to win by nearly 6 lengths at KEE on oct. 5. Horse that ran second that day has already come back to win at KEE. This one looks like she will stretch out to the 1 mile distance just fine, although she does have speed to use early and often. Work on Oct. 19 is fine, too. I bet the 4 to win/place and then key the 4 over/under the rest of the numbers listed.

Race 10: 2-3-4/11-7-1/6-10-5-8…Street Sense Stakes…The second Stakes event of the meet is the same configuration and is open for all 2YOs. I am going with a bit of redemption in this Sunday feature. Tap it to Win (2) was bet down as one of the major players in the B1 Claiborne Breeders’ Futurity. And, should have been. His first two career races were spot on and he has the pedigree to be a superstar. But after a rough start and a battle with a jockey hellbent on restraining him, Tap it to Win was done about half way though that 11/16-mile effort. First time at two turns was a bit mind blowing. Now, he cuts back to the one-turn mile. And, here’s hoping that the rider gives this one his head a bit more. Talent here. Wheat King (3) is a stablemate of our top pick, and has some nice credentials, too. Won on debut and then lost to South Bend by a neck in the next out at KEE on Oct. 5. That was at the 7-furlong distance. Son of Tiznow should have no problem extended the length of the race today. Like the rider choice, too. Could be a nice price. South Bend (4) is a perfect 2-for-2 to start the career, and his mettle has already been tested. Won by a nose in the debut. Won by a neck in the second race. Deep closer and gets a top rider. Barn is hitting at a .23% clip this year in 79 starts. I have to use here, too. Should relish the extra ground. I bet the 2-3 across the board and then box the top 3 numbers in the exacta. I will key the 2-3 over/under the 4-11-7-1-6 in two smaller versions.

Race 11: 7-6/1-9/10-(14)-2-11-3…The final race of the day is a 7-furlong contest over the main track and I will land on the combo of Beautiful Trauma (7) and Irrepressible (6). The former comes from the barn of Tom Amoss, and he his having a super year. Winning at a .22% clip in 454 races, to date. This one has been closing in each of the first two, and the cut back from a mile to the 7/8ths distance may be just perfect for this daughter of Tapiture. Love the work pattern. Solid. The latter is a daughter of Into Mischief. Enough said. Broke extremely slow in the debut. Came running to be 3rd here on Sept. 26. Bet well in the debut, and has returned to work very well. Look at the move here on Oct. 13. Barn’s go-to rider takes the reins back. Look for more today. I bet the 7-6 across the board and then box these two in the exacta. I will key the 7-6 over/under the 1-9-10 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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