McLean’s Selections for Churchill Downs on Wednesday, Oct. 30

Day Results11-5-6-3
2019 Overall 1,1901,190/415-424-538
Win % of Top Pick34.87%
Payoff % of Top 3 Picks Overall38.57%
2019 Top Pick in the Money –783 of 1,19065.80%
Top Selection ITM / CD Nov 7-1163.64%
Top Selection Win / CD Nov 5-1145.45%
“Key Horses” @ CD Nov 4/2-1-050.00%
“Key Horses” in 2019 193-74-38-2238.34%

We are off and running. At our home track. At our most favorite track. At our best handicapping track.

On Sunday, the opening day of the Churchill Downs late Fall meet, we hit for 5 winners, 6 seconds and 3 thirds. We kick started the 11-race card with 3 straight winners to start the day. And, we hit for 7 exactas out of the 11 races.

The exactas returned $15.60, $6.10, $68.80, $41.70, $29.20, $7.10, and $19.10 for each $1 played. Nice.

We cashed tickets on our top choices in 8 of the 11 races, as well. We got paid $25, $11, $16.80, $5, $7.60, $7.50, $12.20, and $11.80 for each $2 played across the board. Nice.

Now, we have picked our heads up — after a tough Keeneland meeting — and we are ready to build some serious momentum towards this week’s Breeders’ Cup — the ultimate in handicapping challenges.

We are prepared, and we are preparing, as we type.

Until later this week, here’s a look at the Wednesday card. Remember, that rain is in the forecast for the next two days in Louisville.

Race 1: 4-6-5-1…Cowboy Rhythm (4) is a 7YO gelded son of Tapit and is now trained by Steve Asmussen, after the claim two starts back. Ran well in the move up last time out at Keeneland. Barn hits with a whopping .28% on the second start after the claim purchase, and with .18% of those making the second start for the new barn operator. Has never won at Churchill Downs in 4 starts, but has a second and two thirds. Has a third in only previous try over an “off track,” and one is expected on “Hump Day.” Adds up against this modest grouping. Matrooh (6) is dropping out of a “Starter Allowance” last time and converts back to the main track after a try over the grass. Barn hits with .14% of those making this surface switch, and with 0% of those getting blinkers for the first time. Does go from a sprint to a route effort today, too, and the barn hits with .18% of those kind. Chance. All About Ashley (5) has never hit the board in 3 tries here, but drops way, way, way down the pecking order today to an all-time new low price tag. Barn hits with .11% of those making this kind of a class plunge, and this one did flash a bit of feisty speed in the last out against tougher. May be able to carry it farther here against this grouping. I bet the 4 to win/place/show and then box the top 3 numbers in one exacta. I will key the top 3 over/under the 1 in a much smaller version.

Race 2: 4-8/9-5/1-7-10-3/1-6…This is a MCL event for the 2YOs, and I go to Cheeseburger (4) in this spot. This is another pupil from the Steve Asmussen barn, and this 2YO son of Girolamo should relish the drop in class here, too. Gets the barn’s go-to rider up, and has been training OK at Lone Star Park down in Texas. Gets the jump in class today, despite the low end price tag. If he can run like he did 2 races back at Ellis? Should be tough to handle here. Alaskan Flyer (8) will get the first start for a bright, young trainer. Barn hits with .27% of those making the debut in the MCL ranks. Has trained OK for the debut and gets one of the hottest riders around these here parts. I bet the 4-8 across the board and then box those 2 in one exacta. I will key the 4-8 over/under the 9-5-1-7-10-3 in two smaller versions.

Race 3: 7-2/4-3/1-6/5…Mineyerownmalone (7) has made his career on this track. In 11 lifetime starts here, he has a resume of 6 wins, 1 second, and 2 thirds. The average purse per start here in Louisville? It’s over $10,000. Comes off a neck win in a similar race here in September. Gets a top rider up. Adds up for me. Candy Carlos (2) is making his second start for a new barn, after being claimed two back. Ran a huge one last time out and finished just a neck behind our top choice here. Could be another salty battle between these two today. I bet the 7 to win/place/show and then box the 7-2 in the exacta. I will key the 7-2 over/under the 4-3 in two smaller versions, and then key the 7-2 over (only) the 1-6-5 in a smaller one, yet.

Race 4: (8)-6/5-4-1-3/2…Fun Paddy (8) is entered here for the “Main Track Only” for trainer Tim Glyshaw, and if this one is moved to the dirt (as I fully expect it to be after the torrential rains we have soaked this morning), I will give this 3YO daughter of Paddy O’Prado the edge. Drops in class for this one today off a solid, if not impressive, performance at KEE in the last outing. Was inside early on in that one, and that was not the place to be. Ran really well the time before at CD. Does have a third in only try over an “off track.” Zabava (6) is the likely favorite, if Mike Maker decides to stay the course — no matter the course. She ha run only one time out of 14 over something that isn’t green — and that was an all-weather track. Was beaten in the favorite in the last outing, and this barn hits with .23% of those returning to settle the score. Gets one of the hottest riders around these parts in the saddle. Choice to make. No horse in this group has ever won over an “off track.” Very few have even tried. Wide open. I will go with the 8 to win/place and then key the 8 over/under the rest of the numbers listed.

Race 5: 7-1-8/3-9/2-4/10-5…Dancing Waves (7) is dropping to the bottom again today. Will get the blinkers for the first time, and this barn hits with .40% of those adding the shades. This 5YO mare does have a win over an “off track,” and has solid mud marks in the pedigree.. Gets a nice rider switch for the return to CD. Won here back in May and has 4 wins in 9 starts in Louisville. Arrowsphere (1) is 6-1 in the ML, and may offer some value to the price plays. Has a win in only previous run over an “off track.” Drops in class and back to a level where she won at three races ago in Chicago. Has not fared well here in the past. But the rail has won at a nice rate of return and this barn is known to specialize in the “claiming class.” Northern Connect (8) is 0-for-6 over an “off track,” but does have 2 thirds. Won easily at Ellis Park back in August. Won 2 in a row at the “Pea Patch.” Has 4 wins in 18 starts here, too. Can’t dismiss. I bet the 7-1 across the board and then box the top 3 in the exacta. I will key the top 7 over/under the 3-9 in two smaller versions.

Race 6: 7-6/9-(15)/4-1-1A/(11)-(12)-3-5…This is the second of three grass races that were originally scheduled for today. Likely to be moved, as well. Nary a horse among these 2YO fillies have even tried an “off track” before. So? I stick with the original analysis, and go with Tulanian (7) as my top selection. This 2YO daughter of Twirling Candy comes from a sire line that specializes in “mud runners.” Dam side is proficient in “off track” runners, too. Ran huge in the last outing at Saratoga, tiring only at the end of a 5.5-furlong sprint. Barn is getting the blinkers off today. They win with .27% of those losing the shades. And, the barn wins with .18% of those routing for the first time. My pick. Urban Fairytale (6) is the ML favorite, and the sire line is top notch when it comes to producing “off track” winners. The Dam side, though, is far less proficient. This one did run huge at KEE last time out. If she can swim, she can win. I bet the 7 to win/place/show and then box the 7-6 in the exacta. I will key those 2 over/under the 9-15-4-1-1A in two smaller versions.

Race 7: 3-7-2/6/4-10-9/1-1A-5…Chief Executive (3) will be making the second career start for the new barn operation, and the second start off a long layoff, as well. The barn hits with .19% of those kind. Will be cutting back from a route race to a sprint and the barn only hits with .12% of those. But…This one ran huge here on Sept. 28. Just tired at the end of the one. The cutback here may be a huge help and get a new rider to take the reins. My solid choice. Island Boy (7) is 6-1 in the ML and could offer some real value today. This one has huge “mud marks” in the pedigree, and gets a new rider. Has been off since March, when he ran well against a winner that came right back to score again the next time out. This barn hits with .14% of those away from the races this long. Could be a surprise in this group. Luna’s in Charge (2) has a race over an “off track,” and that came here in the career debut last November. Did not run well at all in that one. But this NY-bred has gotten better of late, especially with the addition of blinkers four races back. Like the work here on Oct. 4 before the last race. Ran well after that one, too. A shot. I bet the 3-7 across the board and then box the top 3 numbers in one exacta. I will key the top 3 horses over/under the 6 in two smaller versions.

Race 8: 7-3-8/9/2-6/4-1-5…Miltontown (7) has run in two straight Stakes events on the road. Didn’t come close in either one of those efforts, and now returns to the claiming ranks and Churchill Downs after a nice break. Barn hits with .24% of those coming back off this kind of a layup, and this one is a first-time gelding, too. Has a win over this track, and the sire line is spot-on when producing “off track” winners. Look at the work here on Oct. 11. Wow time. My solid pick. Whiskey Echo (3) gets the drop into the claiming ranks for the first time and this barn hits with .21% of those. Ran in two Stakes in a row and has run in 4 Stakes out of the 6 career starts. High hopes. Son of Tiznow — who has never, ever been on turf, despite the fact that he is out of a Stormy Atlantic mare — is likely to be claimed here today. Solid mud marks in the pedigree. Top rider. Will be tough in this spot. Candy Store (8) was plucked out of the claiming ranks by a top notch operation last time out. Moves up a level for this one. Barn hits with .27% on the first try after the purchase. Blinkers come off after an experiment last time out produced zero results. Barn hits with .27% of those losing the shades, too. Interesting rider choice by this trainer. I bet the 7-3 across the board and then box the top 3 numbers in the exacta. I will key the top 3 over/under the 9 in two smaller versions.

Race 9: 10/8-7-6-1-11/1A-2-3-9-5…This is the third and final race carded for the sod today. I look to find a mud runner in this group. And, there are several who have shown some ability before over an “off track.” But…I will stick with Confessing (10) in this spot if the 3YO Scat Daddy filly stays in the race. She is coming off a huge and impressive performance over the hills and dales of KY Downs. The way I figure it. If you can win over that track, you can win over anything. Has been improving steadily ever since the debut back in June — when she never ran a step over a sloppy track. Hmmm. Lacustre (8) has awful mud marks in the pedigree. Ouch. Big Tina (7) does have some nice mud marks in the pedigree, and the barn hits with .35% of those running for the second time under their watch. Only previous run over the slop, though, she was beaten 15 lengths. Ouch. Grandezza (6) has a second in only previous run over the mud. Nice. Silver Shaker (1) has a second over the slop in 2018 at Belmont, and Miss Bigly (1A) has a win in only previous run over the mud — and that was the last time out at Indy Grand. Won by 10. Nice. Nice. Nice. What to do? I bet the 7-6 across the board, and then box the 7-6-1 in the exacta. Try that. Guessing here.

Race 10: 1-6-10/5-8/4-3-2-7…The final race of the day is a MCL for $50,000, and I will go with the first time starter from the rail (not an easy starting gate assignment for a debut runner) — Santa Ana Winds (1). Gets a top rider up, although he is 0-for-4 for this barn to date. Has been training well. Look at the work on Oct. 20. Barn — which has won at a .26% rate all year — only wins with .18% that debut in the MCL ranks. Interesting twist. Double Axel (6) gets a solid mud mark from the mom and trained very well here on Oct. 13. Drops into the claiming ranks for the first time and the barn hits with .34% of those. That’s a big number. Take note. Indomitable Spirit (10) gets a top mud mark from the mom, too, and drops another run in class. Love the work here on oct. 14. Been off since late June. Looks ready. I bet the 6-10 across the board — take note — and box the top 3 numbers in the exacta. I will key the 6-10 over/under the 1-5-8-4-3 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 ...

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