McLean’s Selections for Churchill Downs on Thursday, Nov. 15

Day Results10-5-4-2
2018 Overall 1716631-613-751
Win % of Top Pick36.77%
Payoff % of Top 3 Picks Overall38.75%
Top Selection ITM / CD Nov 56-9459.57%
Top Selection Win / CD Nov 30-9431.91%
“Key Horses” @ CD Nov: 18-5-4-127.78%

1st: 2-7/6-5-4…I’ve Got Heart (2) gets a slight nod in Thursday’s inaugural event, especially when you consider that she will be dropping from a $30,000 price tag all the way down to $16,000 — which is a career low level. This will be the third start off the layup, and the trainer does hit at .17% in the claiming ranks. Apprentice rider who has done well this Fall at both Keeneland and Churchill Downs gets the saddle again today. Looks to fit with these. Moneymeister (7) was claimed last time out for $10,000 and now will head in the operation, bumping up to $16,000 for this one. Didn’t run well in that last out, when going very wide throughout the sprint event. We don’t know much about this barn operation, but the trainer has hit with .22% of 73 starts off this type of a layoff, and hits with .16% from 38 runners in the first off the purchase. This one does have a win over this track to break the maiden back in May. Gets a huge rider switch for this one. I bet the 2-7 across the board and then box those two in the exacta. I will key the 2-7 over/under the 6-5-4 in two smaller ones. Tread lightly.

2nd: 7-8/1-5/2-3-4…Paddy’s Class (7) will be getting a huge plunge in class for this one today. Drops from $30,000 price tag to $8,000 today. If you go back to May 1, this one did run well here, tiring late over the grass to run third. The barn hits with .35% of those getting this type of class drop, and with .20% of those going from the turf over to the dirt track. Looks like a fire sale, but could be tough at this level. Parisian Stroll (8) broke the maiden easily in the last out here for a $10,000 tag. The trainer hits with .12% of those moving up to face winners for the first time. Trained very well over at the Churchill Downs Training Center on Nov. 7, and looks ready to try this level. I bet the 7-8 across the board and then box those two in the exacta. I will key the 7-8 over/under the 1-5 in two smaller ones, and bet the 7-8 over (only) the 2-3-4 in a smaller one, yet.

3rd: 1-2/4-3/5-6…This is a 1-mile turf event, and it will be interesting to see if it stays on the sod — since the grass races were moved to the dirt on Wednesday. But it really doesn’t matter to me, in this case. I think both of my top two picks can run on either the dirt or the grass. Party Boat (1) has done her best running over the grass, for sure, but she does show a win over an off track. This year, she has a 1-1-2 record in 6 starts for trainer Graham Motion. This one loves to fly in the late going, and should do well in a race that figures to have plenty of speed. Gets a top grass rider in the saddle. Streamline (2) is a little more accomplished on the dirt that her counterpart. This one does have a 3-3-6 record in 16 starts on a fast dirt track and a win over an off track, as well. But she does have 5 wins in 8 starts on grass. Very multi-dimensional. Comes in off a restricted Stakes win, and gets a top rider in the saddle. This Illinois bred has run against both G2 and G3 company here in the past. Should fit here. I bet the 1-2 across the board and then box those two solidly in one exacta. I will key the 1-2 over/under the 4-3 in two more smaller versions.

4th: 1-8-9-6/2/10-3…This is a spread race for me, and I will include some action on the top 4 numbers n this sequence. I give a slight nod to Spring Solo (1) in this one. Dropping to a career low level here and the trainer does hits with .12% of those making their debut in the claiming ranks. The rail is winning at a .21% rate, and this barn does ship well, too. I’m a Lucky Guy (8) picks up the apprentice rider after winning last time out over this track in September. That win came as a huge long-shot, though, and it will be interesting to see how he moves up in class for this one. Does have 2 wins in 3 starts here, though. Chasingthegame (9) has hit the board in 5 of 8 lifetime tries and has been right there in each of the last three and 5 of the last 6. Gets a huge rider switch for this try today, and could be a tough out on the lead, if able to throttle down the front end a bit. Hellofaguy (6) has hit the board in 6 of 9 starts this year, and will be making the second start with the new trainer after being picked out of the claim box on July 29. Drop in class should help here. I bet the 1-9 across the board and then box the 1-8-9 in one exacta, and then box the 1-9-6 in another.

5th: 8-10-6/9-1-5/11-3-2…Defender (8) gets a slight edge in this event, dropping into the claiming ranks for the first time ever. This son of Ghostzapper has not shown much in the first two outs, but the barn does hit with .22% of those moving to the MCL ranks for the first time. The barn has won 4 of 12 over the last two weeks, as well, and this one trained really nice here on Nov. 12. Look for improvement out of this one today. Not a bad claim prospect here, either. Remember: this one has never been over a grass course yet, and looks primed for it. Galindo (10) gets the same level back today after running a nice third over at Keeneland in the last out. The runner-up in that one came back to spit the bit and run last in the most recent start. That gives me some pause. But that was at the MSW level, too. This one trained well here on Nov. 8. A real shot in here. Oh Bene (6) is another dropping into the claiming ranks for the first time. Has not shown much in the first two starts, but could shake it up a bit with softer company. The company in the last was pretty salty. I bet the 8-10 across the board and then box the top 3 numbers in the exacta.

6th: 1-7-6/2-3-4…The rail seems to be a good spot for me and my picks today, and I will go right back down there for this one, too. Jefazo (1) has been a morning glory ever since he showed up at the racetrack, posting some real good morning times. Finally put it all together to win the last time out, and an off in that try for the barn of Buff Bradley. Was claimed out of that one by a top claiming barn, who hits with .24% of those making the first start for the trainer after the purchase. Moves up in class, but the light may have gone off in the last. Dilettante (7) has run two seconds in a row at this level and has been facing tougher than the #1. This one goes for a barn that can hit off the bench (.11% with those coming off this kind of a layup), and does have 4 seconds in 18 starts. A stretch, maybe. Here’s Carlos (6) is worth a shot at this ML price of 10-1. This one ran really well for three races in a row going into the last out. Didn’t fire in that one, but it was against tougher and over the slop. Maybe he didn’t like either one. Now, gets back to better company and should find a dry track, too. A shot. I bet the 1 to win/place/show and then key the 1 over/under the 7-6-2-3-4.

7th: 11-5-12/8-7-9/6-3-1-10…A really nice MSW event going 7 furlongs over the dirt here. I will go to the outside for my top pick in Patsy (11), who ran second as the beaten favorite at Keeneland last time out. Caught a super one in that fray, but has come out of the race in good order and posted some nice times in the a.m. Will get a new rider and the trainer hits with .10% of those returning to the races for the first time after getting whipped as the favorite. Barn does well with 2YOs, at .14%, too. Maybe today. Net (5) is a first time starter for the barn of Rusty Arnold, who scores with only .05% of those making the debut. But the dam of this one has 4 winners from 8 starters and 2 SWs, already. This is a daughter of Curlin, and she looks to be getting better in the a.m. with every move. Solid rider choice, and looks like a possible upset special for me at 12-1 odds. Girlfriend Rocket (12) is another first timer, but comes from the barn of a trainer that hits with .25% making the career debut. This daughter of Quality Road cost $800,000 at the OBS April Sale this last Spring. Trainer/Rider have teamed up to win 2 of 3 in the last two weeks. I bet the 11-12 across the board and then box the top 3 numbers in the exacta. I will key the top 3 numbers over/under the 8-7 in two smaller versions.

8th: 1-2-9/3-4-8…Another rail horse for me here, and one that could go way up on the odds board before PT. All Hansens Ondeck (1) won the last time out at Keeneland on Oct. 12, at huge odds. I didn’t go to that wedding, and I don’t want to go to the funeral now. But…this one has run three really good ones in a row and has two seconds in four starts over this track. The trainer is not having a good year (.04%) and the rider is very suspect, but worth a shot at a price. Sights and Sounds (2) does have a 6-3-3 record in 20 starts and has a win and a second in her only two starts over this track. The last time he was seen in Louisville, he won by nearly 6 lengths. Should love a return to his home base. Cedar Creek (9) has a win and three thirds in just 5 starts over this track. Fits with this group and gets regular rider back in the saddle. I bet the 1-2 across the board and then box the top 3 in the exacta. I will key the 1-2 over/under the 3-4-8, as well.

9th: 9-8-10/3-2-4/6-7-1…Thursday’s feature is a 5.5-furlong sprint event over the grass, and I sure hope this one stays on the sod. If it does, it will be a treat. La Dame Blanche (9) comes from the barn of Ian Wilkes, and she has never lost in two tries over the grass and two tries at this sprint specialty distance. Regular rider is on a roll right now, as well, and has teamed up with his father-in-law trainer to hit for a 3-0-2 record in the last 8 races over the past two weeks. In other words? Hot. This one has speed to burn for a young stallion doing quite well. Fairyland (8) comes from a barn that specializes in these kind of races, and this daughter of Scat Daddy has done well to date, too. In 8 starts, she has 2 wins and 2 seconds. Ran super last time out at Kentucky Downs, and should improve off that effort. Super work at Keeneland on Nov. 7. Ready. Good Move (10) is a 3YO filly who swept to easy wins in her first two career starts. Never able to handle the deep slop at Pimlico in the Miss Preakness Stakes. Has been off since that race in May and now will try the turf for the first time. Trainer hits with .32% of those making the first grass start. Has speed, too. I bet the 9-8 across the board and then box the top 3 numbers in the exacta. I will key the top 3 over the 3-2-4 in a smaller version.

10th: 1-10-6-1A/2-7/3-11…How about another #1 in the finale? I go there, even though the  entry will likely scratch down to just one — since the same rider is named on both ends of the couple by trainer Kelly Von Hemel. Also, the 1 is the best of the two, and should break from the #6 hole. Tiz Little Bull (1) did run well over the slop at Keeneland on Oct. 27. Tired very late in that 11/16-mile event, but held for third. Now, drops another notch down the ladder and should do well for this barn — who hits with .11% of those making the second start for this trainer. Has hit the board in 4 of 5 starts this year. Ginormous (10) will be my Upset Special of the Day. This 3YO daughter of Giant Oak is an Indiana-bred and will be moving up to face open company for the first time. But will be dropping to a career low price tag and I like the way that she has been running of late. Has a late kick to her style and could be motoring late for an under-rated rider — who has a 3-3-3 record in the first 15 mounts this meet. Undivided (6) is another who has not run well this year. Zero-for-5 in 2018. But will drop another rung down the ladder and the race over the slop at Keeneland in the last was sneaky good. Was caught wide in that one and had a lot of kick back in her face. Flattened late in that one, but I thought the rider took great care of her when it appeared she was not going to contend. This trainer hits with .17% in the claiming ranks and this one could be around at the end. I bet the 1-10 across the board and then box the top 3 numbers in the exacta. I will key the 1-10 over/under the 2-7-3-11 in two more smaller versions, too.

Good Luck & All the Best/Gene

He’s got an unbelievable kick, but so did the losing horse,” said Brown, Arlington International’s all-time leading Grade I-winning trainer. “They both ran tremendous.”

Chad Brown, Trainer of winner Robert Bruce
  • 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 ...

    Full Bio >

More From Gene McLean