McLean’s Selections for Churchill Downs on Thursday, June 28

Day Results10-1-3-3
Churchill327-110-114-161
Top Pick Win %33.60%
Top Pick ITM % 212-31966.50%
Payoff % of Top 3 Picks at CD39.20%
2018 Overall 916335-346-405
Win % of Top Pick36.60%
Payoff % of Top 3 Picks Overall39.50%

We only had one winner on Sunday, but that didn’t keep us from having a good time or cashing a few nice tickets. We had three exactas that paid $24.80, $29.10, and $43.80 for $1 tickets. And, that helped us across the finish line for a very productive week.

To date, our top pick has won at a 36.60% rate for this year, after 916 races tallied. For the current Churchill Downs meet, we have inched our way up to where our top pick is now winning at 33.60% rate. That is after we started this year’s Spring/Summer session in the hospital, and off to a very weak start. We are glad to be both alive and doing much better — both on and off the track.

Here is a closer look at today’s selections:

1st: 5-6-1-1A-2-3…My first “dot” (must use) play of the day comes in the very first race with Promises Broken (5). This 4YO daughter of Algorithms could be a very nice claim prospect, as well (more of that to come later in the “breeding section). Dropped to the lowest level that I can see in her career, she is coming off two straight thirds against tougher, and will get back to the dirt where I think she performs much better. Barn hits with .24% of those getting this surface switch, and is having a super meet (.39%). This will be the second start off an extended layoff, and the last race conditioning has to help. Works have been good since the last race — including a nice one on June 5. My first Best Bet of the Day, even though she will be facing colts and geldings. The horse to beat may be the one to her immediate outside in Chesapeake City (6). This one will go for a barn that has just 2 wins in 20 starts this meet, but does have 3 seconds and 7 thirds. Coming off a layup, this one didn’t run much the last time out and now gets a significant class drop back to a level where he romped by over 7 lengths two starts back at the Fair Grounds. Tom Amoss has a pair in this tilt for owner Maggie Moss. The better of the two seems to be Finglas (1). But since both horses have the same rider named, it would appear that one of the two will be scratched before PT. Finagles won two starts back at Tampa and was claimed last time out after failing to muster much of a threat at any time. Burnt Bluff (1A) was claimed for $8,000 last time out and has not shown much in the last five races. OK work here on June 9, but the barn has been cold nearly all meet. I go with the filly against the boys, in an uphill battle for sure. I bet the 5 to win/place/show and then key the 5 over/under all the numbers listed.

2nd: 1-8-7-5-2-6-9…Vicksburg (1) could be a nice price play in the second. The 2YO colt by Twirling Candy will be making the first time start for a barn that hits with .10% on debut and with .11% of those making the first start in a claiming event. This one tuned-up with a super work here on June 23, and the barn is having a really solid meet to date (.22% winners). Could surprise. Thousand Percent (8) should be the PT favorite after getting the drop from the MSW ranks to this level after just one start. Looked speedy early on in that one, but faltered and fell off the map late. Trainer hits with .22% on the second start and with .21% of those dropping into the MC ranks,a s well. Yankee Seven (7) is another first time starter for a trainer that does NOT do well with debut runners this year. Only 6% winners in 53 tries. But the dam of this one has a winner from two starters and the breeding suggests that it could fit nicely here. The thing that I like the most, though, is the work here on June 8. That is serious running, even though it was in the a.m. It does suggest that he has speed and talent. Worth a shot at 8-1 ML odds. I bet the 1-8 across the board and then box the top 3 numbers in the exacta.

3rd: 6-1-2-7-5-4-3…I will be keying all of my action in this race on and off Will Call (6), who is a 6-5 ML favorite from the barn of Brad Cox. The Louisville native has rallied from a slow start to jump right into contention for this meet’s trainer’s title, although he is behind a tough one to catch in Steve Asmussen. Cox’s win percentage is up to .29% now, and this one could add to the total in a race that is loaded from top to bottom with front-end burning type speed. This one is the only true closer in the bunch, and should benefit from what appears to be a torrid speed duel about to happen. Has a win over this track in the last out, and looks primed for another one in allowance company this time. Kid Perfect (1) has run two nice seconds in a row — and one behind the top choice two races back. This one has the ability to go to the front or stalk from just off those that command the lead. Has a win and two top end seconds in three tries over this course. Fort Fortitude (2) is another who likes the front, and will move hard to get it. Top work here on June 23 and looked to take to the grass last time out for the first time. Any improvement off that try, and he could be tough to catch in this spot. I be the 6 to win/place/show and then key the 6 over/under all the numbers listed. More on the 1-2-7. Less on the 5-4-3.

4th: 6-4-5-7-8-2…Tough race here, but I settle on another from the barn of Brad Cox with Flight Risk (6). This 4YO gelding was claimed just two starts back off Asmussen, and now finds himself right back at the same price tag today after a nice third against tougher last time out. Super work here on June 22 for the new connections and the rider is hitting with .32% of the last 25 rides for the barn. Trainer hits with .33% of those making the second start after the purchase, as well. Adds up for me. Alexandro (4) is one from the Asmussen barn who will try to beat his old pupil, the top pick. This one will be dropping down into the MC ranks for the first time since he ran a very tough-beat second here last September. Trainer does well with the drop, winning with .21% of these kind, and with .20% of those making the third start off a layoff — which this one is. Watch out for some serious improvement in this spot today. The Moment Is Now (5) will be getting a try on the dirt track for the very first time after the first six starts came over the grass. Will be equipped with blinkers for the first time, and the training session her on June 20 was solid. Well-bred son of Tiznow is certainly a claim prospect at this level. I bet the 6 to win/place/show and then box the top 3 numbers in the exacta.  I key the top 3 over the rest in a smaller version.

5th: 4-7-5-10-1-11-3-9-12-6-2…A wide open affair right here, in what should be a Stakes race for 2YOs. But I will concentrate my efforts on the top 3 numbers in this sequence. My top selection is Mister Harvey (4), who will be making career start #1 today for the Cox barn. Training lights out over at Keeneland all Spring/Summer, and had a brilliant work there on June 19. The sire is hitting with .16% with first time starters, and the dam has already produced one winner from just one starter to date. The jock/trainer have hit for a record of 4-1-1 in the last 9 rides over the past two weeks. Our www.brisnet.com Stat of the Day. Top pick. Bodefecta (7) should definitely offer some odds value to the mix, if this son of Boemeister can run like he did at Lone Star Park back in May. Trainer ships up here for a reason, and this one had a super work before he left Texas. Looks like he has some run to him, and the connections did pay $100,000 at 2017 Keeneland September. I use. Tight Ten (5) is the best bred piece in this race, being a son of Tapit and a home bred of the Winchell Thoroughbreds LLC group. Dam has two winners from two starts and this one has been working well, too. I bet the 4-7 across the board and then box the top 3 numbers in one exacta. I key the top 3 over the second three set of numbers in a smaller exacta, as well.

6th: 8-5-1-1A-4-6…Once again, I will concentrate my betting strategy on the top 3 numbers here, led by Sweeping Paddy (8) —the best looking horse in the field, on paper, but maybe a tad vulnerable since she has not run since last July at Saratoga. That’s an extended vacation for a barn that hits with .15% of those coming off this long a layup. She has shown a long serious of works this Spring/Summer, and is a Graded Stakes winner already. Class has to be given consideration. The horse with the best shot of upsetting the apple cart in this one, though, just may be Peru (5), who goes for the barn of Mike Maker and the ownership team of Ken and Sarah Ramsey. This one ran 6th in the G2 Sheepshead Bay Stakes at Belmont on May 5, but was beaten only 21/4 lengths in that affair by the very nice mare Holy Helena. Was second in the race before that one and now finds herself in a claiming event. Should fit perfectly for this spot, and has a nice stalking style that could put her in the mix earlier than some may expect. Jockey has 6-4-2 record over the last week. Take note. English Affair (1) and Coco Channel (1A) — a pair of English Channel fillies owned by Calumet Farm — both have a shot in this spot. I bet the 8-1 across the board and then box the top 3 numbers in one exacta. I key the 8 over all the numbers in a smaller version, as well.

7th: 2-4-3-1-6-5…My second Best Bet of the Day comes in this spot with trainer Ian Wilkes’ talented 3YO colt Bourbon Resolution (2). This one broke his maiden last September at Saratoga, and looked like he was well on his way to becoming a real, real good one. After a disappointing run in the G1 Breeders’ Futurity at Keeneland, though, he was laid up until late May of this year when he made his first start in 7 months. Ran a credible third in that one, but should benefit greatly from the stamina perspective, and has come back since to work a bullet move over at Keeneland. Looks primed for a return to prominence. Quality Rolls (4) broke the maiden two back for a price tag, but did it convincingly and ran OK in the first try against winners. Looks like he could improve off that performance today at some decent odds. Come on Dover (3) was claimed two back off the Kenny McPeek barn operation for a mere $16,000. Won easily that day, but what is most impressive is the first start back for the new connections. Nearly won his first try against winners — and against much, much tougher stock. This barn wins with .12% of those making the second start for the new connections, and he picks up a red hot jock for this one. Watch out. I bet the 2 to win/place/show and then key the 2 over/under all the other numbers listed.

8th: 7-5-6-1-4-3-8-9…I will focus on the top two numbers in today’s finale. Soft Cheese (7) is another one that was claimed last time out off the McPeek barn. And, she might prove to be quite the bargain. She won that contest for her second straight victory, and now has hit the board in each of the last three tries. The blinkers added two races back might have turned this one around, and the new barn has a winner and two seconds in just 9 starts here this meet. The conversion to grass coincided with the addition of blinkers, and she may love the new surface, too. The dam is by Hard Spun, who has turned out a few nice grass runners in the past. Top pick. Big Blue Magic (5) should be prepped and ready to go for a return to the grass. Trainer hits with .35% making this surface jump, and this one looks sharp right now, too. Will get blinkers for the first time today, and the barn hits with .21% of those adding the new shades. Naples Legacy (6) was claimed last time out, and could be an expert selection, as well. She has run two very nice ones in a row after being equipped with blinkers, too, and is bred to be a good one — both on the track and in the shed. Gets the meet’s top rider in the saddle today, as well. I bet the 7-5 across the board and then box the top three numbers in the exacta.

Good Luck & All the Best/Gene

It’s unbelievable. It’s a dream come true, to be honest with you. It’s been 25 years since I was blessed to win my first one, which was here, and to go into it with Bob and [wife] Jill and the whole crew, WinStar and China Horse Club and everyone who’s involved, Jack Wolf, I’m just so blessed to be riding for these people right now. I’m on cloud nine.” – (From NBC Broadcast)

Mike Smith, Winning Jockey, Justify
  • 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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