McLean’s Selections for Churchill Downs on Thursday, May 16

Day Results10/5-2-3
2019 Overall 681681/246-246-333
Win % of Top Pick36.12%
Payoff % of Top 3 Picks Overall40.38%
2019 Top Pick in the Money –465 of 68168.28%
Top Selection ITM / CD 65-10462.50%
Top Selection Win / CD 32-10430.77%
“Key Horses” @ CD 18-7-3-238.88%
“Key Horses” in 2019 133-54-26-1540.6
Upset Special of the Day/ CD 5-0-0-00.00%

Five winners out of the 10 races on Sunday. Now, hoping and praying we can kick start an exciting week with a little momentum. Time to start heating up. Weather wise. Handicapping wise, too. So, here we go.

Here’s a closer look at Churchill Downs’ card on Thursday:

1st: 1-5-6/9-7-4/3-8…Don’t Tell Lydia (1) drops to a career low level for the 13th start of the career, and the connections hope that this is a lucky #13. Has never visited the winner’s circle, but does have 4 seconds and 2 thirds on the resume. One of the seconds comes here. Ran over a muddy track at KEE, and that may explain some of the bad outing. Broke slowly and then wide, and that didn’t help, either. Ran second two back. Barn hits with .31% of those going sprint, sprint to a route. My choice. Bourbon Girl (5) is my first Upset Special of the Day. This gal — at 15-1 ML odds — didn’t run a lick last time out, when dropped into a MCL event for the first time. But that was for $100,000 price tag. Now, she goes for a bargain bin price of $10,000. Trainer is a bright young guy with a future in the business, and hits with .25% of those dropping this much in previous efforts. Gets a top rider, whom he uses only when he has a shot. I think he has a shot here. Weightlessness (6) ran second at this level last time out and in his first start since March. If she can improve a pinch off that race? Competitive here, then. I bet the 1-5 across the board and then box the top 3 in one exacta. I will key the 1-5 over/under the 9-7-4-3-8.

2nd: 2-1A/3-1-7…Curiousncuriouser (2) will make her first start for the HOF trainer Steve Asmussen today. He hits with .22% of those making the first start after a claim purchase, and with .22% of those making the third start off a layup. Ran a nice one to win in the slop last time out and has hit the board in both of the 2019 starts. Looks salty at this basement level. Desert Thief (1A) is a Cal-bred who was claimed two starts back by Norman McKnight down at Oaklawn Park. She has run two bad ones in a row, but has excuses. Pressed hard in both of those tries and hopped at the break in the last out. Needs to settle back down and that may help if she can catch a dry track. Last 3 over mud, and that’s not been good for her. Shape of You (3) drops in class, but has not been out since last August. Trainer has not won in 3 starts this year. Good rider takes the mount. May have to put this one on his back. I bet the 2-1A across the board and then box those 2 in the exacta. I will key the 2-1A over the rest in a smaller exacta version.

3rd: 2-(8)/7-4-1-5…The first grass race of the day will be contested at 11/16-miles, and I will give a strong thumbs up to English Dancer (2). This one ran a good third against some good ones at KEE on April 19. That was over a yielding course, of course. Gets a hot rider in the saddle today, and has faced much tougher in the past. Has 2 wins in 5 starts at this distance. Has a third in only previous run over this sod. Adds up for me. I bet the 2 to win/place/show and then key the 2 over/under all the numbers listed above.

4th: 9-7/5-4-2…This MSW event is for the 2YO fillies, and I will give the leg up to Topless (9). This daughter of Successful Appeal ran second on debut over at KEE on April 24. Ran 51/2 lengths behind a good one that day. Pressed the pace and then backed away. Maybe that exercise did her good. Barn’s go-to rider takes the reins for the first time. Pranked (7) will make the career debut today for trainer Tom Amoss, who hits with .23% of the newcomers. Scores with .26% of those making the first start in a MSW event. Has been training quite nicely overly at KEE. Gets a solid rider, and the dam of this one has a winner from just one starter. Trainer / Jockey have teamed up for a 3-0-1 record over the last 6 starts. Could be live. I bet the 9-7 across the board and then box those two solidly in one exacta. I will key the 9-7 over (only) the 5-4-2.

5th: 2-12/7-10-11/(15)-1…Mississippi Moon (2) will be making the career debut today. This one cost $700,000 to purchase at the Fast-Tipton August Sale in 2017. Now, he gets the start for $20,000. Need a bigger truck? Looks to be a sale’s job right here. But is training OK, and the barn hits with .32% of those making the career debut in the claiming ranks. What to make? Admiration (12) will be making his first start for a new trainer, who has earned his way into the HOF. Been training OK, but has not raced since last June. May need one. Still, in this group, he figures prominently. Gambit (7) is dropping to a career low price tag today. Has only one second to show in 9 starts to date. But did show a bit of life against much tougher last time out in the mud at KEE. Work at Churchill on may 1 was encouraging. May figure in this spot, too. I bet the 12-7 (Take Note) across the board and then box the top 3 numbers in the exacta. Good luck here.

6th: 1-5/2-3-(11)/4-9-6-8/7-10…The second grass race on the card today will be a 5.5-furlong sprint. I will go strong with Madison’s Luna (1) — at a nice price of 6-1 on the ML, too. This son of Tapit started the career with a whirl. Broke the maiden impressively at Tampa Bay in February of 2018 and came out of that one to win the G3 Hutecheson Stakes. Has struggled to find his niche since then, and then went on the shelf after a Stakes start at Saratoga on July 27. Has proven to be good fresh. Has trained nicely of late. Gets a clever grass rider. I’m taking a shot right here, right now. Concord Fast (5) may be the most accomplished of the grass runners in here. Has 2 wins and a third in 4 sod starts to date. I can toss the last out. That was over the main dirt track and in a Stakes event at Charles Town. Held his own to be third. But go back to the two grass races before that. Impressive winner in each. Gets a top grass rider up. Wide open and well balanced field in this event, but I am going heavy on the 1. Win — Place — Show. I’m going to key the 1 over/under the 5-2-3-11 in two exactas. I will key the 1 over (only) the 4-9-6-8.

7th: 5/3-2-1-7-6…The first and only Key Play of the Day comes right here with Tap That Cat (5). This 4YO daughter of Tapizar has raced twice to date, with a win and a second by a nose. Was very game in-between horses in the last out and gutted it out to the wire. She towers over this field, IMO, with the same kind of run today. Barn is hovering at about half of their regular win rate. Look for more out of this outfit real soon. I bet the 5 to win/place and then key the 5 over (only) the numbers listed.

8th: 5-(11)-7/2-8-4/1-9/3-10…The last race on the night will go to post about 8:23 p.m. ET and will be contested at the 5-furlong distance over the grass. I will key on the Wesley Ward duo (if the #11 gets in the race). Brittas Bay (5) ran well at KEE on April 18, finishing second after setting the pace. That was the first start since September of 2018. Had an excuse to tire after solid fractions. If she comes back strong after that one, she could put this field away early on. Should love the grass, being by Scat Daddy. Love the work on May 9. Paper Clip (11) will need some luck just to get into the race, but this 3YO daughter of Cairo Prince could be a tough out, if she does draw in. Top rider named. Lone grass race was solid going 6.5 furlongs. Has not been out since October, but looks ready off the works. Look at the April 15 breeze. Trainer has won .30% of the 125 starts this year, too. I bet the 5 to win/place/show. If the 11 draws in, then I use them both across the board. I then box the 5-11-7 in the exacta. If the 11 is scratched, I will key the 5-7 over (only) the 2-8-4-1-9.

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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