McLean’s Selections for Churchill Downs on Thanksgiving Day — Nov. 28

Day Results10/3-5-4
2019 Overall 1,4051,405/492-513-629
Win % of Top Pick35.02%
Payoff % of Top 3 Picks Overall38.77%
2019 Top Pick in the Money –923 of 1,40565.69%
Top Selection ITM / CD Nov 140-21465.42%
Top Selection Win / CD Nov 77-21435.98%
“Key Horses” @ CD Nov 25/11-6-044.00%
“Key Horses” in 2019 214-83-43-2238.79%

Thank goodness for Thanksgiving.

A day to say “Thanks” to all that we have to be “Thankful For” and “Thankful To.”

My list is so deep and wide that it reminds me of a song that I learned in Bible School, many years ago.

Thanks Mom. Thanks Dad. Thanks Sis. Thanks Leigh Ann. Thanks to all my friends, who I don’t deserve, yet love beyond measure. Thanks to all of you for even reading and caring. Thanks be to God that we live in the world’s greatest country. Still. And, thanks for the opportunity to go to the world’s greatest racetrack today with some of the greatest people that ever walked on God’s Green Earth.

So, in essence?

Thanks.

And, I hope that we all have a reason to say “thanks” after today’s races, too. It’s a tough, tough handicapping card — to be sure. But, like an old friend told me many years ago, there’s a winner in every race. We might as well find them.

Here’s a closer look at today’s card:

1st: 4/1-5/3-2-6/7…The first Key Play of the Day will come at 11:30 a.m. this morning. Wow. Better get going. Foxy Mischief (4) will drop from a $50,000 level to the $25,000 price tag for this one and the barn hits with .33% of those getting this kind of class relief. Last time at this level, was claimed for the $25,000 tag here back in May. Ran 2nd that day. Gets a rider who has had a terrific meet, and does have 5 career wins. Three of them have come this year. Should improve off the last run immensely. I bet the 4 to win/place/show and then key the 4 over/under all the numbers listed in the exacta. I use more with the 1-5.

2nd: 6-4/5-2-3-1…Captivating Moon (6) won the last time out here on Oct. 31 over a sloppy track. Will catch a fast one today, but in two starts over fast dirt, he has a second and a third. Can handle this surface, too. Ran up against Bricks and Mortar just three starts ago. Can you say “Horse of the Year.” Looks like he could have a new career on the dirt now, though. Blended Citizen (4) really was cut out to be a very good one early on in the career. Won the G3 Peter Pan Stakes after running 5th to Good Magic in the G2 Blue Grass just a year ago. Has not hit the board in 6 starts this year. But has run all of them on the grass. Now, gets a new trainer and back to the dirt. Love the work here on Nov. 23. This trainer hits with .25% of those running for the new barn operation for the first time. Miracle worker may drop his dust over this one today. Look for a huge run. I bet the 6-4 across the board and then box those 2 in the exacta. I key the 6-4 over/under the rest of the numbers in two smaller versions.

3rd: 11-12-10-4/1-2-9/6-7…A wide, wide open affair here. I will go to the far outside for my top 3 selections here — led by Strong Yen (11). This 5YO gelding will drop from $25,000 price tag to the bottom $7,500 today, and this barn hits with .21% of those that cut back this far in one swoop. Has not been close in the last 5 starts. Not even close. But did win against much tougher at Oaklawn Park back in the Spring and the work here on Nov. 17 was lights out. Gets a solid rider, who has had a terrific meet, in the irons. Look for much better effort against these types. Cedar Creek (12) may have won the last time out here on Nov. 10, if not for having to check hard at the 1/2-mile mark. Lost all chance. Gets a new rider, who is adjusting well to the switch East. In 14 lifetime tries here, he does have a 2-1-5 mark. Maybe underneath? Mono (10) is 12-1 odds in the ML and could spice up the rack a lot. Got off to a very slow start last time out. Gets a new rider for this one. If he can show more early? Could have a shot here. But, as you can tell, I don’t have a strong thought in this one. At all. Good luck, is all I can suggest. I bet — very lightly — the 11 to win/place/show and then key the 11 over/under the 12-10-4-1-2-9. Guessing here.

4th: 6-(15)/5-3-1A/7-2/8-11-10…I truly do like a horse in this race — Commissario (6). This one drops from the $50,000 price tag to the $30,000 level today and the barn really is having a nice meet. Wins with .22% with the 2YOs; wins with .27% in the MCL ranks; wins with .25% of those making the second start. And? Winning at a .25% clip this meet. This one was well bet in the debut run, and was 5 wide in that one. Look for a better effort here. If Cosmic Cat (15) gets in? I just. Definitely. If not? I bet the 6 to win/place/show and then key the 6 over/under the 5-3-1A-7-2-8-11-10.

5th: 4-6/7-1-5/8-2-3…Mucho (4) won here on Nov. 16 and now loses that condition. But…This 3YO son of Blame looks like he can take his game to the next level. In 10 starts to date, he has a 3-2-2 mark. Has a win in only previous try here. And, in 5 starts at this distance? Has 3 wins and 2 thirds. Top rider stays aboard. And, the work before the last race was spot on. I stay the course with this one. Petrov (6) has run in three straight Stakes races and now drops back into the allowance ranks. Three races ago here, he nearly won a Stakes against some real, real good ones. When he is close to the front, he usually runs his best. Gets an interesting rider choice for this one. But the pilot has won with .20% for this barn over the last 60 days, too. I bet the 4-6 across the board and then box those 2 in the exacta. I will key the 4-6 over/under the rest of the numbers in two smaller versions.

6th: 10-(14)-11/4-1-2-9/5-12-3…Bound for Nowhere (6) looks much the best in this group, in the first grass race of the day. This 5YO son of The Factor has raced only 3 times this year. Has a win and a second. Easy winner last time out after returning from Royal Ascot. Works have been spot on. My second Key Play of the Day. I bet the 10 to win/place and then key the 10 over/under the (14)-11-4-1-2-9-5.

7th: 10-2-9/4-12-5-7/6-8-(13)…Debating (10) is coming in to this one as a beaten favorite in the last two tries. This barn hits with .29% of those returning as the beaten fan’s choice. Meet’s top rider sticks. And, if this one can get anywhere close to a good trip today, he will be tough to hold off late. Quality closer. But needs racing luck late. Grade One (2) drops from the $50,000 level to the $30,000 price tag today. Comes in off a nice third against a horse that has already returned to win again. In 5 lifetime tries here, he has no wins. But does have a second and 2 thirds. Underneath candidate? Works are spot on. I bet the 10 to win/place/show and then box the top 3 in the exacta. I will key the 10 over/under the 2-9-4-12-5-7 in two smaller versions.

8th: (15)-7-1-4/10-5-8-9/11-6-(13)…If Wicked Indeed (15) draws into this race from the AE List, then I will go strong with the 3YO son of Tapit. Will come into this one as a beaten favorite and into the claiming ranks for the first time ever. Barn hits with .26% and .21% of those, respectively. But, if he does not, I will go with House Limit (7) on top here. This 4YO gelding drops into the claiming ranks for the first time from a good barn operation, who hits with .22% of those kind. Will be making the second start for this trainer and second start off a layup, too. Should improve off the last one for many reasons. Hitch (1) is another 3YO sold of Tapit that is trained by the same guy who conditions the #15. This one cost $500,000 to purchase a year ago at a 2YO Sale. Now being offered up for $50,000. Has a win over this track to break the maiden, too. Probably will be nabbed today. Big shot here at a nice price. I bet the 15 if he gets in. If not, I bet the 7-1 across the board and then box the 7-1-4 in the exacta. I will key the 7-1 over/under the 4-10-5-8-9 in two smaller versions, as well.

9th: 9-3-1/6/7/2-5-4…G2 Falls City Handicap…Make no mistake about it, I will be rooting like heck for Sally’s Curlin (6) in this spot today. The 3YO daughter of Curlin is owned, in part, by my great friend and partner — Mike Schnell. If she can run through the stretch like she has in the last 3 outings, she may help my great friend recover from his recent surgery and pick up his body and soul at the same time. Here’s cheering. But it will not be easy today. She will be stretching out from the 1 turn, 1-mile distance to a 11/8th, two-turn event. Never won doing that before, and some of the others in here are more accomplished at that task. Go Google Yourself (9) has not won at 11/8-miles, either. But the only time she ran that distance was against the likes of Elate and Breeders’ Cup Distaff winner Blue Prize. Go Go is really good, good. Mylady Curlin (3) lost to Sally’s Curlin last time out ink the G3 Chilukki. But that was at the 1-mile distance. She prefers this distance, where she is 2-for-2. Will be tough today, for sure. I bet the 6 (heart strings) and 3 to win/place/show and then box the top 3 numbers in the exacta. I will key the 9-3-6 over/under the 1 in two smaller versions.

10th: 7-(13)-10-1/5-6-4-8-11/3-12…Easy Shot (7) could be a real handful if he can improve off the race here on Nov. 3. That second place finish was his first start in 8 months. Wow. And, he ran a huge one. Before that, he ran in three straight KY Derby preps. Ran third to Mucho Gusto in the G3 Robert B. Lewis Stakes in February. Talent here. Love the rider switch, too. Could be a show out performance here. Grit and Curiosity (10) goes for a trainer who has a 7-1-2 record in just 13 starts here this meet. That measures out to a win percentage of .54%. Wow. Have to figure, right? Does move up from a MSW win to face winners for the first time, and goes from turf to dirt. Interesting. I bet the 7 to win/place/show and then key the 7 over/under the 13-10-1-5-6-4-8-11 in two smaller versions.

11th: 11/8-6/10-9-4-7/1-2-5…G3 Cardinal Stakes…Starship Jubilee (11) is 6-5 in the ML and should go off as the PT favorite. And, rightfully so. the 6YO daughter of Indy Wind has raced 6 times this year with a 3-2-1 record. All 6 races are Stakes. 5 of them Graded Stakes. The last win was a G1 win. Has faced good ones. Has the speed to be super tough. Regular rider comes in from Canada to take the mount. Looks super good in this spot. I bet the 11 to win/place and then key the 11 over/under the 8-6-10-9-4-7 in two exactas. More over the top.

12th: 9-7-3/2-5-8-4/1-10-12…The last race of the day goes off at 4:50 p.m. ET. Nearing darkness here in the ET. What a day. Still eating turkey, I am sure. I will go with Executive Branch (9) in this spot. Gets his first start for a new barn operator, who does have a super year working. Has won with .25% of the 953 starters. This won gets a new rider and that certainly cannot hurt. Loves to close and if he can negotiate a cleaner trip this time, he may be tough to hold off late. I bet the 9 to win/place/show and then box the top 3 numbers in one exacta. I will key the 9 over/under the 7-3-2-5-8-4 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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