McLean’s Selections for Churchill Downs on Thursday, June 21

Day Results10-3-1-8
Churchill289-97-96-143
Top Pick Win %33.60%
Top Pick ITM % 182-28164.80%
Payoff % of Top 3 Picks at CD38.80%
2018 Overall 878322-328-387
Win % of Top Pick36.70%
Payoff % of Top 3 Picks Overall39.40%

We finished up Sunday’s card in good order. Despite only three winners, we did hit five exacta plays, including one that returned $47.00 for $1 play, and three more that returned $26.80, 19.30 and $14.70 for $1 each. So, we made a little cash roll to play with this week.

Only two weeks left in this Spring/Summer meet at Churchill Downs. Get out and have some summer fun before it’s too late. Here’s a closer look at today’s card:

1st: 6-3-4-1-2…My first “dot” play (must use for me) comes in the initial offering of the day. I go to the outside in this short field with Forge Ahead Franki (6). The trainer has won with 4 of 26 starters this meet, but has 7 seconds and 5 thirds to add to the tally sheet. This one is one of his previous winners, coming from just off the pace to win here back on May 18. Has returned to work nicely here on June 14, and appears to be the class of this field. Has hit the board in each of the last four tries, and was odds-on in the last out and should be low odds again in this heat. Candy Carlos (3) gets a huge rider switch for this one and will be switching back to the dirt. Ran a nice second at Hawthorne on the dirt three starts back and won over a sloppy track at the Fair Grounds back in February. Jockey has a 5-2-2 record in the last 15 mounts over the last 7 racing days. Sights and Sounds (4) has hit the board in 6 of the last 7 races, and certainly appears to fit with these. Lost to the top choice by only 1/2-length i the last try and led late before giving up the lead in that one going 7 furlongs. Now, stretches out to the flat mile, and he has a perfect 2-for-2 record at that distance. The one to beat. I bet the 6 to win/place and then key the 6 over/under all the other numbers listed in the exacta.

2nd: 5-1-3-2-6-7…I concentrate my betting strategy on the top two numbers in this one. Zena Rules (5) is another with low odds, and rightfully so, IMO. Drops all the way from the $30,000 price tag down to $16,000 today and goes from the turf surface back to the dirt — where I think she is best suited. This trainer hits with .19% of those making this surface switch, and this one had a super nice work here on May 30. Last time on dirt was at Keeneland in April, when she ran a fast-closing third against much tougher. That kind of run makes her a winner today. Stylitude (1) is the ML favorite in this spot, and is coming off a win at the MC $20,000 level. Now, will step up to face winners for the first time, and the trainer does hit with .24% of those making the class jump. This trainer got off to an unreal start here this meet, and still has a win percentage of .31%. This filly has hit the board in 5 of 7 lifetime starts and has a win and two seconds in just three starts at this distance. Nice work here on June 15. Looks ready to step it up. Eye On Harper (3) could be one to add some value to the exotics in this spot. She is 12-1 ML odds and will cut back from a 11/16-mile race in the slop to this 1-mile effort Thursday. Has hit the board in 4 of 6 starts over this dirt track and the trainer is due, with only 1 win in 28 starts this meet. I bet the 5 to win/place and then box the top 3 numbers in the exacta. I key the 5 over/under all the numbers in two smaller versions.

3rd: 1-4-8-2-6-7…A wide open affair here, but I like Aikenetta (1) — a 4YO filly making her first start for new trainer Stephen Lyster. The kid is as talented as they come, when it pertains to horsemanship and is just one really good horse away from cracking into the ranks as one of the best young conditioners to come along in years. This one was purchased out of the last try here on May 1. She set just off the pace before weakening late to run fourth as the favorite that day. Now, she comes back at 11/8 miles and picks up a top rider again. Nice work since the last race, but his one has hit the board in 6 of 9 lifetime efforts and looks to be sitting on a good one. Araminta (4) ran in a Stakes event here on May 26, and didn’t fare too well after pushing the pace early in a 11/2-mile marathon try. Now, cuts back in distance to a more manageable try, and should with the drop in class. The last time this one was seen in the claiming ranks, she ran a solid second last August at Indy. Bears watching. Fast Track Kathern (8) was claimed back by the team of Ken and Sarah Ramsey just two starts ago, after losing her three starts ago. Last time out, she was 6th, but had some traffic issues that caused her to steady in the stretch when it appeared she was making a late run. Now, switches to a solid rider, and the works have been steady. I can’t dismiss. I bet the 1 across the board and then box the top 3 numbers in the exacta. I key the top 3 over the others in a smaller version.

4th: 6-9-2-5-8-7-1…Once again, I will key on the top two numbers in this sequence. Captain Cade (6) nearly won at this level last time out, losing by only 1/2 length. This will be the third start off a layoff, and the trainer hits with .19% of those. This conditioner is having a really nice meet here with a record of 7-8-5 in just 26 starts. Doing the math, his horses have hit the board in 20 of 26. Looks solid in this spot. Major Perfection (9) beat the top choice just two starts back and has run two seconds in a row. Now, gets a third class drop for a trainer that knows how to win races. Solid works here this spring, and is certainly fit enough. Trainer hits with .22% with those making the second start off a layup, and with .25% of those running in the MC ranks. Bravo Dixie (2) may be the one to add some value to the exotics in this spot. This one is dropping out of a MSW event on the grass to a career low price tag and back on the dirt. Trainer hits with .25% of those dropping like this and .27% switching surfaces. Could surprise. I bet the 6 to win/place/show and then box the top 3 in the exacta.

5th: 7-3-2-1-6-10-4-8…I will focus my attention on the top 3 numbers here, led by Carter Cat (7). This one hails from the Steve Asmussen barn, and all it has done is run away with the Trainer’s Title here again. This one ran a really nice second after a slow start and compromising run on the dirt in the debut try here on June 1. Now, this one will get over to the turf, where he is bred to excel. Trainer hits with .13% of those making the grass debut, and with .22% of those making the second career run. If he figures out the gate issue better this time, he could be on his way. No Way Never (3) comes from a barn and trainer who thrives with the 2YOs. This one will be making the debut and the barn hits with .26% of those kind and with .18% of those making the inaugural run on the grass. Super works over at Keeneland, and the dam of this one was a Stakes winner. Chase Greatness (2) is another who does have a start under his girth already. Ran fourth in that one after a very slow start cost him nearly all chance. This trainer adds the blinkers today, and hits with .36% of those getting the shades for the first time. Barn also hits with .24% of those making the second career start. Dam has 3 winners from 4 starters and 2 turf winners, to boot. I use. I bet the 7-2 to win/place/show and then box the top three in the exacta. I key the top 3 over the rest in a smaller version.

6th: 4-3-9-2-6-1-8…Tiznoble (4) is my Best Bet of the Day. This 5YO horse by Tiznow could be a bargain at this $32,000 price tag, as well, even though he was just claimed last time out for $25,000 by a top notch claiming barn. This trainer hits with .23% of those making the first start after the purchase, and with .28% with those trying to repeat a trip to the winner’s circle from the claiming ranks. Has hit the board in 13 of 17 lifetime tries, and is a money making machine. Race Me Home (3) was claimed last time out, too, for the $16,000 asking price. This trainer hits with .20% of those making the barn debut. This one was a run-away winner the last time out when dropped into the claiming ranks for the first time, and probably was running at a level too low for his ability. Gets a new rider today, who has had an OK meet. Can’t overlook here. Hardly a Secret (9) was a third horse claimed the last time out. This one was picked up for $25,000, as well. This trainer hits with .27% on the first start, and with .30% overall in the claiming ranks. Top claiming owner paid the price, and this one had a super nice work here on June 13. Needs to pick up his game a bit, but belongs with this crowd. I bet the 4 to win/place/show and then key the 4 over under the 3-9 solidly. I key the 4 over the rest of the numbers in a smaller version.

7th: 4-7-1-2-5-3-6…Another “dot” gets doled out here to Queen Mum (4), who will be making her 2018 debut for the barn of Mark Casse. The trainer hits with .18% of those making the first start off this type of layoff, but this one has been training lights out here at Churchill Downs and gets a top rider for this barn. The jockey hits with .22% of the last 18 mounts for this barn, and has a 2-0-2 record in the last 5 rides altogether. Looks ready for the return. Everyonelovesjimmy (7) will be making her fourth start of this year, but the first since running a game third in allowance company over at Keeneland this April. Ran very well in that one, in her first try against winners. Has hit the board in all three career starts, and may have the conditioning lead over the top choice. Super work at Keeneland on June 15. Watch out here. Cathedral Reader (1) was super impressive in debut here on May 13. Ran away from a nice field to win by over 6 lengths. Has returned to work super here, as well. Look at the move on June 2. Wow. Will be facing winners for the first time and draws the rail. That could be a good thing with a clean break, but she will need that encouragement earlier from a top rider — who has a 5-2-2 mark in the last 15 mounts. I bet the 4-7 across the board and then box the top 3 numbers in the exacta. 

8th: 10-2-8-7-5-1-11-3-9…A wide open affair to end the day/night card. I don’t go crazy here, at all, but I will try a long shot to end the night. Private Vigilante (10) looked like he was cut out to be a good one. Won the debut at Ellis Park last summer by 3 and came right back to face the really talented Dak Attack in the Ellis Park Juvenile in the second start. Didn’t fare well there at all, and has not been the same horse since. Will plummet from $40,000 price tag all the way to $10,000 today. Could wake up and be a nice claim, as well. Three things would intrigue me about this one. One, he is still a colt. Two, he has never worn blinkers in a race. Three, he might be one that you could try on the turf. Any way, I take a shot here at 6-1 odds. I bet the 10 to win/place/show and then key the 10 over/under all the numbers, with more significance on the 2-8-7-5. 

Good Luck & All the Best/Gene

Snapper Sinclair ran hard. It’s disappointing to lose a photo in such a serious race but you end up being very proud of the horse’s effort.”

Steve Asmussen, Trainer of Snapper Sinclair (second)
  • 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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