McLean’s Selections for Churchill Downs on Wednesday, Nov. 14

Day Results10-2-6-2
2018 Overall 1706626-615-751
Win % of Top Pick36.69%
Payoff % of Top 3 Picks Overall38.92%
Top Selection ITM / CD Nov 51-8460.71%
Top Selection Win / CD Nov 25-8429.76%
“Key Horses” @ CD Nov: 18-5-4-127.78%

We will kick off another great week at Churchill Downs on Wednesday, and we are looking to amp up our win percentage, for sure. We had a really good day on Saturday, but slipped a bit on Sunday — although we did have 6 of our horses finish second, and our top pick hit the board 7 out of 10 races.

That’s been a positive stat for us all meet. Our top pick has finished either first, second or third on over 60% of the time. Now, we just have to find a few more wins in that mix.

Here we go:

1st: 1/5-6-4-3…On a day where there seems to be no clear cut choices to key on, we will focus on Tapazar (1) in the first event of the day. This 3YO filly by Tapizar is coming off a nice second as the favorite in a 6-furlong sprint over at Keeneland on Oct. 6. She will stretch out to two turns for the first time today, and the barn only hits with .08% of those doing that. But this one will get the blinkers for the first time, too, and the barn hits with .11% of those getting the equipment for the first time. In both of the first two tries (one at Saratoga and the other at Keeneland), this filly has been closing. Maybe the extra distance will aide her in that effort day. The rail is winning at a .22% rate, too, and the barn scores with .21% of those returning to the races as a beaten favorite. I will take the bait and go with the 1 to win/place/show. I will key the 1 over/under the 5-6-4-3 in the exactas, with more on top.

2nd: 7-5-1/2/3-4-6-8…This one is scheduled to be contested at 11/16 miles over the grass course. Of course, with all the moisture that we have had this week, this one could be moved to the main track. Check on the race day changes as early as you can, because if it is moved, I am sure there will be plenty of scratches from this affair. If it stays on the sod, I will give a slight edge to Love on Tides (7). The 5YO Stormy Atlantic mare is trained by a very under-rated conditioner. Ms. Lovell has hit with .22% of her 9 starters this meet, and has hit the board with 2 more. This one has raced over this course two times before, and has found the winner’s circle each time. The dam has 4 turf winners from 5 starters and has produced one SW. This is certainly a “horse for the course,” and gets a tip rider in the saddle today. Now Power (5) will get a new rider in the irons today, too, and this gent has been on fire since moving his tack to KY for the Keeneland October meet. I can toss the last one, when she spit the bit after half the running. The race before at Ellis Park was super nice and the win four races back was even better. She has speed to carry these a long way today. Miss Artie (1) picks up Julie Leparoux in the saddle, and he is one of the best grass riders in the world. Having a solid meet here this Fall, too, winning at a .21% rate. This is an Indiana-bred, but has hit the board in each of the last five races and four of them were against open company. Like the work on Oct. 29, too. Trainer has done well with Indiana-bred before. I bet the 7 to win/place/show and then box the top 3 numbers in the exacta. I will key the 7-5-1 over/under the 2, as well. Can’t forget about Applique (2) at some nice odds here.

3rd: 1-7-4-5/3-6/2-8…I will spread out again in this event, using the top 4 numbers in the horizontal plays (Pick 3, Pick 4, and Pick 5). Mutajaded (1) will get a slight nod in this 6-furlong sprint over the dirt track. Spit the bit when racing against much better last time out here in September, but if you go back to this summer, this one was racing very well. Ran second two races back and won easily at this level here in early June. In 7 starts this year, he has 2 wins and 2 seconds. Love the work here before the last race. Look to make amends here today. Forze May (7) has hit the board in each of the last three outs and has a 1-1-2 record in 6 starts this year. Trainer is having a super meet, and the barn hits with .24% of those making the second start after a claim. Top rider stays up and this one could be tough in this spot. Both En Hanse (4) and No Funny Biz (5) have a shot in here, as well. The former drops to a career low price tag and gets a hot rider in the irons for the first time. Love the work up at Turfway Park on Nov. 10. The latter ran very well to be second here in June. Will need to improve, but could hit the board at a nice price. I bet the 1-7 across the board and then box the 1-7-4 in one exacta. I will key the 1-7 over/under the 4-5-3-6 in two softer versions.

4th: 3-1-7/5-6-2…Another wide open affair, but I give a slight edge to Ourbestfriend (3). This 2YO sold of Yes It’s True will be dropping into the high-end claiming ranks for the first time. Ran well to be third two races back and I can toss the last out in the mud at Keeneland. The race that sticks out is the career debut against Hog Creek Hustle, when he was just three lengths behind that one. Hog Creek came back to dominate this weekend. Flat Out Beautiful (1) will get his first start for a trainer that hits with .39% of those making the debut in the MCL ranks. Working well here, too, and the trainer has three wins in the last seven starts over the past two weeks.l Dam of this one has 9 winners from 10 starters and has 2 SWs on the ground. Musical Man (7) will drop in class for a barn that hits with .28% when moving form the MSW group to the MCL ranks. Really nice work on Nov. 7 at the Churchill Downs training center. Watch for improvement form this one. I bet the 3-1 across the board and then box the top 3 in the exacta.

5th: 3-10-2/7/8-9-4-6…Jerrid (3) will drop all the way from a $40,000 price tag to $10,000 today for the barn of Brad Cox. Three races back — last October — this one won an allowance at Remington Park. Has 3 wins and 2 seconds in 12 races, and has worked well for this one — a second race off the layoff and second start for this barn. These connections win with .27% and .29% of them, respectively. The one to beat. Kahramani (10) will inch up a notch after winning the last out at Keeneland. This barn hits with .21% of those trying to repeat wins in the claiming ranks. Trainer also hits with .23% of those that won the last race, period. Gets Corey Lanerie back up today, and I love the 6-1 odds. Shobiz Star (2) won two back here in September. Did that from start to finish while going 11/8 miles. Could try the same tactic today. I bet the 3 to win/place/show and then box the top 3 numbers in one exacta. I will key the top 3 over/under the 7 in two more.

6th: 11-10-8/5-3-2/6-9-12-7…Vandelay (11) will get a huge rider switch for this one today, and will be making the second start off a layoff. Barn does well with these types, and before the last out, this one had hit the board in three in a row. Figures to push the pace from the get-go today. Spirit Hawk (10) will drop all the way from the $30,000 tag to $8,000 today. Ran well over the grass at Belterra this Spring, but had a rough time from the start in the last out. Now, gets the huge plunge. Interesting at some nice odds. Big Al (8) is another class dropper and another moving from the grass over to the main dirt track. Barn hits with .15% of those making this surface switch, and with .15% returning to the races as a beaten favorite. Beware. I bet the 11-8 across the board and then box the top 3 numbers in the exacta.

7th: 7-1-10/3-4/5-6-2…I take the #7 in the 7th race — Cured by Kitten (7). This 3Yo Kitten’s Joy filly broke her maiden in style last time out at Keeneland, closing well late to beat a nice field. Will face winners for the first time today, but this one has all the credentials to move up and onward in style. Trainer hits with .17% of those making the adjustment from MSW to winners. Haniel (1) ran well against a really good one in the last out at Keeneland. The winner that day will move up to try Stakes company later this week. This one has hit the board in 5 of 6 lifetime starts and has faced some good ones. Don’t be run off by the connections, who are unknown to many. This filly can run. Period. Tropical Wave (10) has a win over this track and that was to break the maiden over a yielding course. Could find the same conditions today, and gets a top rider in the saddle. Look for improvement today. I bet the 7 to win/place/show and then box the top 3 in one exacta. I will key the top 3 over/under the 3-4 in two smaller versions.

8th: 3-4-8/2-5/6-7-9…Summer Storm (3) has been in four races. In the three races where the jockey has managed to stay on, this filly has posted 3 thirds. Could move up today with an apprentice jockey — getting a 5-pound weight allowance — in the irons. Love the work here on Nov. 8. Has speed to burn. Let’s see if she can last the entire trip today. I bet she can. Riseling (4) has hit the board in 4 of 6 starts to date, with 3 thirds, as well. Will drop down another notch in the claiming game today, and the trainer hits with .25% of those returning to the races as a beaten favorite. Could be tough stalking the leader in here. Flat Awesome Jenny (8) will be making her second career start. The winner of the debut effort has already come back to win. She could be tough with a better start and more experience. She was altering her course for most of the first race. I bet the 3 to win/place/show and then box the top 3 in one exacta. I will key the top 3 numbers over/under the 2-5 in two smaller ones.

9th: 6-10-3-4/8/2-1-9…Today’s feature is a 5.5-furlong sprint over the grass, and figures to be a good, wide-open contest. I will give the slight edge to Shangroyal (6). This 3YO son of Shanghai Bobby has shown some flashes of real speed in the past. Has not won at this distance yet, but does have a second in two tries. Getsthe blinkers back on today and the barn hits with .13% of those kind. Love the work at the training center on Oct. 18 before the last out. Now, drops in class for this one. Could be a really good day for this barn/rider. They are both very capable of having huge days. Crosswalk (10) will be making his grass debut for a top notch trainer/good guy. This son of City Zip was really showing great signs of being a top notch horse as a 2YO and earlier this year. In the first six starts, he was not worse than second. Has hit on hard times since then, though, and now gets a change of venue to the grass. Pedigree suggests that he should like it, with the dam throwing two turf winners already. Love the work here on Nov. 5. My Upset Special of the Day. If you go deeper, might want to take a glimpse at both Mister Maestro (3) — who has won five of the last 6 outs — and Welovecandy (4), at 20-1 odds. I def use that one in this mix. I bet the 10-4 across the board and then key the 10-4 over/under the 6-3-8. Looking for boxcars.

10th: 4-5-12/7-3-9/8-1…Wild Will (4) will get my nod in today’s finale. This 4YO gelded son of Wilburn had trouble in the slop last time out, but if you go back two races, he was right there. Has 5 seconds and 3 thirds in the 17 starts to date. May be his day. Tap Show (5) was pulled up and vanned off in his last try here on Sept. 23. But drops way down today, and the barn hits with .25% of those making this type of class plunge. Also, the works since the race suggest that he is doing fine, too. Look at the wok on Oct. 18. A bullet. Ready. Aim. Fire. National Pride (12) was cut out to be a real good one. By Distorted Humor, he sold for $230,000 as a yearling. But he has been found lacking on the racetrack. Ran very well for $20,000 here back in May, but nothing since the claim. Looks like a fire sale today. I bet the 4-5 across the board and then box those 2 solidly in one exacta. I will key the 4-5 over/under the 12-7-3-9-8-1 in two smaller versions.

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