McLean’s Selections for Churchill Downs on Thursday Oct. 31

Day Results10-2-5-6
2019 Overall 1,2001,200/417-429-544
Win % of Top Pick34.75%
Payoff % of Top 3 Picks Overall38.61%
2019 Top Pick in the Money –789 of 1,20065.75%
Top Selection ITM / CD Nov 13-2161.90%
Top Selection Win / CD Nov 7-2133.33%
“Key Horses” @ CD Nov 4/2-1-050.00%
“Key Horses” in 2019 193-74-38-2238.34%

It was a rainy day in Louisville on Wednesday, and if your were not in the mood for a nice mud bath, then you were probably in a pretty bad mood.

Rain fell in the morning. Rain fell at lunch. Rain fell in the afternoon.

And, lots of rain fell on the track at Churchill Downs.

We managed to eek out a couple of wins on the 10 race card, but it was a mess in handicapping, as well.

We are looking for a little better conditions on Thursday. Hopefully? Maybe? Please?

Here’s a look at the Thursday card:

Race 1: 6-2/3-4-1-5…Swiss Dot (6) ran second when switching to the main track last time out, and he gets to stick to that sticky surface again today. Has the mud marks in the pedigree to be dangerous at this level if he can duplicate the last effort. Trainer is having a pretty good run of things lately, and the 3YO daughter of Istan has a late kick that should fit Churchill Downs. Ready Orb Not (2) comes into this one as a beaten favorite last time out at Keeneland. Ran 4th that day, after getting bothered at the start. The barn hits with .33% of those returning as a beaten favorite and with .24% of those getting the second start off a layup. Top rider sticks. I bet the 6-2 across the board and then box those 2 in the exacta. I will key the 6-2 over (only) the rest of the numbers in a smaller version.

Race 2: 2-4/1-3…Symphony Hall (2) is another steed that will get the expert services of rider Corey Lanerie. This 2YO daughter of Wicked Strong has solid mud marks in the pedigree, and this one ran really well here two starts ago. Couldn’t finish in that one, but gets a little more class relief for this start. Barn wins with .21% of the 2YO starters. Contendress (4) gets a huge drop in class after running well back in the last two. Faced Stakes company two races ago. Barn hits with .34% of those dropping into the claiming ranks for the first time. Jockey who rode this one to victory three starts back gets the assignment again. Watch out. I bet the 2-4 across the board and then box those two in the exacta. I will key the 2-4 over/under the 1-3 in two smaller versions.

Race 3: 7/2-4-5-1-3…The first Key Play of the Day comes right here with Eagle Pass (7). This one was claimed last time out, and the new connections hit with .22% when starting for the first time after the purchase. Love the way this one has been working out West. Gets the barn’s go-to rider up. This one has hit the board in the last 7 races and 8 of the last 8. Looks tough in this spot. I bet the 7 to win/place/show and then key the 7 over/under the rest of the numbers listed in the exactas.

Race 4: 4-6/7/2-1A-1…Remedy (4) is the 8-5 ML favorite, and figures to be the star of this group. The 4YO Creative Cause filly is coming out of 4 straight races in Stakes Company. All of those were Graded Stakes, too. She ran super in both the Remington Park Oaks and the G3 Comely Stakes to end the 2018 calendar year. Has not been out since February, but the barn does hit with .21% of those coming off an extended layup. Love the work on Oct. 25. Looks primed and ready. Rahway (6) has raced here 3 times, and has a win and a third. In 5 starts at this distance, this 4YO filly has a win and 4 seconds. Looks to be runner-up again. I bet the 4 across the board and then box the 4-6 in the exacta. I will key the 4-6 over/under the 7 in two smaller versions.

Race 5: 12-4-9-8/7-2-11-(14)…We have to offer a disclaimer right here and right now. We bred and own Miss Jacqueline (12), who will be making her career debut in this 6-furlong MCL event. So, we will be rooting and cheering and probably riding as hard as our talented jockey. And, for us, we will be betting, too. That’s just the way we are. If you want to go a different direction, there are plenty of options. The field is full from rail to rail. And, plenty of good runners to look at and consider as well.

Race 6: 9/8-1-3/5-2-4…This is carded as a turf event, but with the torrential rains that we have encountered over the past couple of days, this one is most likely headed to the main track. Either way, I will single My Sixth Sense (9). This one is entered for the Main Track Only and comes form the barn of Mike Maker. Was claimed two starts ago, and ran second then. Bumped up in class for the last try and was never in the mix — despite the fact that the fans made him the betting favorite. Returns today for a barn that hits with .18% of those getting the second start for the new connections, and with .18% in the second start off a claim. Works have been solid of late. I bet the 9 to win/place/show and then key the 9 over/under all the numbers listed. More on the 8-1-3.

Race 7: 3-9/4-2-8-1/5-6-7…Club Car (3) will get her second start off a considerable layup today, and one of Churchill Downs’ all-time best riders takes the assignment again. On Oct. 12, this one ran a tough-beat second. Any improvement at all, and she should be right there at the wire. Barn hits with .14% of those making the second start off a layup. Tipazar (9) has not been out since June 1. When she went to the bench for a short break, she had hit the board in 6 straight. Still looking for that elusive first win, but has 4 seconds and 4 thirds in 9 starts. One of these day…I bet the 3-9 across the board and then box those two solidly in the exacta. I will key the 3-9 over/under the 4-2-8-1 in two smaller versions.

Race 8: 8-7-1/4-3/2-6-1A/5…This is a really nice allowance event, and I will go to the outside and join up with Joe Kristufek and his Brilliant Racing group on Eskenforit (8). This one was impressive in rallying and running off to a 31/2-length victory in his last out. Loses that condition now, and moves up in class. But looks to have it going right now. Work on Oct. 20 was very nice. Barn hits with .18% of those that won the last race. Troubling Moon (7) is one that could push the pace from the get-go in here. Barn has been red hot of late, and this son of Into Mischief has won the last two in a row. Work on Oct. 20 was spot on. Noble Thought (1) has run in two straight Graded Stakes races. Drops down to a claimer here. Class drop and move to the dirt should help, immensely. Barn hits with .17% of those making this surface switch, too. Take note of this one. I bet the 8-1 across the board and then box the top 3 numbers in one exacta. I will key the 8-7-1 over/under the 4-3.

Race 9: 3-2-(14)/4-1A/11-10/1-6-8-7…This is another that was originally schedule for the grass. Likely to move to the dirt/mud today. I will give The Rock Says (3) the edge. This 3YO son of Uncle Mo has raced 7 times in the career. Has only 1 win, to date, but has 2 seconds and 3 more thirds on the resume. Has faced some good ones and is coming off a race where he was 3rd as the beaten favorite. The barn hits with .29% of those making the second start off a layup, and with a whopping .45% as a beaten fav. My pick. Chewing Gum (2) has never been off the turf in a 4-race career. But this one is by Candy Ride, who is one of the best and most versatile sires in all of the land. Great numbers with mud runners, too. Love the work here on Oct. 27, and this one has real talent. Love to see him try the off-track. I bet the 3 to win/place/show and then box the 3-2 in one exacta. If the #14 draws in, I will slip into that box, as well. I will key the 3-2 over/under the 4-1A/11-10 in two smaller versions.

Race 10: 1-2/9-11-10-8/5-4…The final race of the day is a $10,000 claimer for the 3YOs & Up and will be contested at 7 furlongs. I will go to the inside for my first two choices, led by Honduras (1). This one is dropping out of a $20,000 level to this one, and the barn hits with .44% when dropping this much. Didn’t have a chance in that last race. Bobbled at the start and never got a chance to flash his speed — which is crucial to his running style. Look for a lot more out of this one today, and should shoot right to the front from the rail post. In 3 previous runs here, he has a win. Dragon Drew (2) is a Stakes winner. But he is 0-for-8 this year. Now, gets the huge class drop to the near bottom of the claiming ranks. This one has not shown any ability on an off-track before, but this level is so far beneath his best efforts, that he may be able to change with these. Like the work on Oct. 13. I bet the 1-2 across the board and then box them in the exacta. I will key the 1-2 over/under the 9-11-10-8.

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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