McLean’s Selections for Churchill Downs on Thursdays, Nov. 1

Day Results9-4-4-5
2018 Overall 1632606-589-725
Win % of Top Pick37.13%
Payoff % of Top 3 Picks Overall39.22%
Top Selection ITM / CD Nov 14-2070.00%
Top Selection Win / CD Nov 7-2035.00%
“Key Horses” @ CD Nov: 5-2-2-040.00%

A solid day at Churchill Downs on Wednesday. We didn’t handicap the finale, so out of 9 races we examined on “Hump Day,” we carved out a nice 4 win mark. We also hit for exactas that returned $13.60, $6.20, $35.10, $9, $11.30, and $8.60 per $1 wagered.

We hope to keep that momentum churning right into, through and out of the Breeders’ Cup this Friday and Saturday. That would be quite fun.

Here’s a look at today’s card:

1st: 1-4-5/3-2-6…Volodina (1) gets my slight edge in the lid-lifter today. This 3YO daughter of Bodemeister will drop into the claiming ranks for the first time today. The barn hits with .21% of those kind. She will be shifting back from the turf to the dirt after a failed experiment last time out on the turf. This will be her third try off a considerable layup, and the barn hits with .13% of those, too. Gets a top rider in the irons. Solid pick. Moolamiss (4) should be a solid second choice. This 4YO daughter of Into Mischief has not won a race in 2018. She is 0-for-9. But she does have 4 seconds and a third, and has been right there at this level for most of the year. In 8 starts at the distance, she has 4 seconds. In 6 races at Churchill Downs, she has a second and 2 thirds. And, she does have a nice work here on Oct. 26. The trainer — who has had a chilly year — has registered 2 wins in the first 4 starts this meet. Nice sign. Our Snowflake (5) ran second last time out, but was moved up to first through a DQ. Now, the filly will face winners for the first time — despite never having crossed the finish line in front. The barn does hit with .18% of those moving up, but she has not been out since May 18 and the that may necessitate a race or two for conditioning purposes. I bet the 1 to win/place/show and then box the top 3 in the exacta.

2nd: 2-1A-6/3-1/4-7…I will focus on the top 3 numbers in this sequence, as well, led by Wood Not Mind (2). This one is 10-1 in the ML, but worth a long look in this spot. Trained by Daniel Sanner, who is having a real nice year — winning with .19% of the 69 previous starters. This one has hit the board in the last 4 tries and 5 of the last 6. Loves an off-track, too. In 4 starts over that footing, she has 2 wins and a second — and her earnings per starts shoots up to about $5,000 per race. Over twice what she is earning overall. Love the last work on Sept. 9 and looks to grab a piece of this pie at some nice odds. Southernperfection (1A) was dumped into the G1 Spinster Stakes at Keeneland in her last start. That didn’t go well, as she spit the bit in the stretch and fell all the way back to 9th — after setting all the early fractions. Gets back to a more comfortable level today, and she does have a second and a third in three starts over an off-going. Nice work on Sept. 30, and picks up the leading rider at Keeneland to take the reins. Nice move. Backintheacademy (6) is a deep closer for a barn that has hit with .30% winners this year in 402 starters. You may not know the trainer, but know this — the man can train; the man can win. Picked this one up in June from California. Has steadily moved up the ladder since the acquisition. Has a third in only previous try over the off track. Beware. I bet the 2-1A across the board and then box the top 3 numbers in the exacta.

3rd: 2-4/5-3-6/1-7…Sumner (2) will be making his first career start for a new barn. This one was claimed two starts back off Todd Pletcher and Starlight Racing. Ran a nice second in the last out at Belmont Park in September, after moving up a notch or two in the price tag. Now, comes back at the same level today. Has a win in two starts over the off track and has a really nice work here on Oct. 26. Love the rider choice, too. Exemplar (4) ran very well here in late September, winning by nearly a length over a horse that has come right back to win. Before that win, he had hit the board in 4 of the previous 6 tries. Has a win over an off track in just 2 tries, and the trainer has posted 2 wins in the first 5 starts this meet. Worthy. I bet the 2 to win/place/show and then box the 2-4 solidly in the exacta. I will key the 2-4 over/under the 5-3-6 in two smaller versions.

4th: 5/1-3/6-8-2-4-7…I’m sure this 5.5-furlong sprint is off the turf. But we won’t know the scratches until a bit later. If Measure Twice (5) stays in the race, then this son of Scat Daddy should be tough to handle. In his first career race, he ran a nice second and the third place horse that day came right back to win the next out. That was 5.5-furlongs over the grass at Saratoga. But this one does get solid mud marks in the pedigree, and has trained well coming into this one over at Keeneland. The top pick. J.P.’s Pride (1) could surprise a bit, especially at the 6-1 ML odds. This one ran well on debut here last November (2017). Especially for a career debut from this barn, who normally takes their time with youngsters. Has been off for nearly a year now, but is training lights out. Look at the work on Oct. 26 — on a good surface. Bullet of the day. Watch out. Leinster (3) has posted 2 seconds and 3 thirds from the first 9 starts for the D. Wayne Lukas barn. Has a second in 3 tries over the mud, too. This most experienced with an off track, and the sire line gets a solid mud mark. Like the 8-1 ML odds here, and the apprentice rider can boot them home. I bet the 5 to win/place/show and then box the top 3 numbers in the exacta. Watch for the scratches in this one.

5th: 10/3-11-4/5-2-7-8…My first “KEY PLAY” of the Day comes right here. Super Simple (10) has actually finished a race in front at the wire — when he won at Saratoga in the mud back on July 26. But he was DQ’d in that event after trading “leans” in the stretch. Was placed second. Ran up against Concert Rose in the next out, and she may be the favorite in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies on Friday. Lat time out, she caught another whirlwind, who ran off by 9. Has 2 seconds over an off track in the first 5 starts and has a solid mud mark on both the sire and dam sides. My solid pick. I bet the 10 to win/place/show and then key the 10 over/under the 3-11-4. I will key the 10 over (only) the 5-2-7-8.

6th: 14-9-7/12-10-5/15-13-2-3…This is another that is sure to move to the main track. But, luckily, there are a number of MTO horses entered in this one, led by Own Agenda (14). This one is coming off a nice second at Keeneland in the last out and has a win and two seconds in the first six tries. Love the work here on Oct. 29 to prep for this one. Gets a top rider. I bet the 14 to win/place/show and then key the 14 over/under the 9-7. I will key the 14 over (only) the 12-10-5.

7th: 10-3-9/7-6-1…Flying the Flag (10) is coming off a fast closing second after hopping at the gate and losing much ground at the beginning of his only previous start at Laurel on Oct. 5. Out of a Stakes winning mare, who has 3 winners from 5 starters. Nice work at Fair Hill on Oct. 26. Gets a top rider up. The solid pick. I bet the 10 to win/place/show and then box the top 3 numbers in the exacta.

8th: 4-6-2/1/9-5-8-11-3…I will spread out a bit in this spot, led by Concord Fast (4). The trainer is red hot right now, compiling a record of 5-3-1 in the last 13 saddle jobs. This one converts from grass to the dirt, where the trainer hits with .21%. Has a win in his only try over an off going. Sevier (6) has two wins in 5 starts on off tracks, and is coming into this one for a big drop in class. Top barn operation knows how to spot them, and this one worked well at Keeneland on Oct. 28. Has 2 wins and a second against much tougher in 6 tries here. I bet the 4-6 across the board and then box the top 3 in one exacta. I key the top 3 over/under the 1 in two smaller versions.

9th: 2/5-4-7-6-3-1…Switzerland (2), who has been sold by Woodford Racing since his last race, is the “Key Play of the Day.”  The 4YO son of Speightstown loves an off track, having won 3 of 5 over that type of rain-drenched surface. Comes in off a super win in the last out — the G3 De Francis Memorial. Is the pure play here, despite the low odds. I bet the 2 to win/place and then key the 2 over (only) the rest of the numbers.

10th: 10/7-9-3-11/2-4-5-6-1A…Another single in the last for me, what with the credentials of Beach Bum (10). The 4YO son of Arch has only run once — in September — since November of 2016. Ran a very nice second in that one, and was claimed off of Steve Asmussen by the Brad Cox barn. The new connections win with .29% of those making the first run for the new barn. Working well for this one, too. Obviously, this one has some issues, but has the breeding to accept the off going. I bet the 10 to win/place/show and then key the 10 over/under the 7-9-3-11. I box the 7-9 in another one.

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 ...

    Full Bio >

More From Gene McLean