Day Results 9 / 5-2-5
2020 Overall 771 771 / 277-252-302
Win % of Top Pick 35.93%
Payoff % of Top 3 Picks Overall 35.93%
2020 Top Pick in the Money –494-771 64.07%
Top Selection ITM / Ellis: 12-16 75.00%
Top Selection Win / Ellis: 6-16 37.50%
“Key Horses” @ Ellis Park: 3-1-1-0 33.33% Win / 66.67% ITM
“Key Horses” in 2020 105-37-24-15 35.24% Win / 72.38% ITM

(It’s hot, again)

We managed to heat up a bit on Friday at Ellis Park. Booted home a few winners and exactas that returned $12.50, $9.50, $40.10, $39.20, $11.30 and $15.10 for each $1 played.

We hit the late Pick 5, too. Drew home a humid sum of $199.90. Was planning on more.

But we are back at the “Pea Patch” and we will delve into the Stakes at Belmont Park, too, in “bonus coverage.”

Here’s a look at our picks:

Ellis Park

1st: 3-4-6/1…Royal Commission (3) drops all the way from the $20,000 price tag to the bargain bin today. Should fit well with these and the barn hits with .14% of those getting this kind of relief. Gets a top rider who just achieved a milestone win and looks ready to embark on more. Barn is having a chilly year, but it knows how to win. Not Again Jackie (4) is a class dropper for this one, too. Won two starts back at Turfway Park and is the real threat in the late going. Has faced tougher and gets a top jockey in the irons. Uncle Momo (6) comes from the Steve Asmussen barn and goes to the basement. Threat. I bet the 3 to win/place/show and then box the top 3 in the exacta.

2nd: 1-2/6-4/3-10…Unexpectedly (1) drops from the $20,000 level to $10,000 today. Barn does much better with the second start and the switch to the grass should not hurt this one. Comes from a Stakes-placed mare and this one did cost $40,000 at the 2018 KEE September sale. Look for more today and looks to be off at a square price. Money Well Spent (2) drops considerably for this one and the barn hits with .27% of those getting this kind of relief. Should like the switch to the grass, and the Louisiana-bred seems to fit here against these in open company. I bet the 1 to win/place/show and then box the top 2 in the exacta. I will key the top 2 over/under the rest of the numbers in two smaller units.

3rd: 5-6-1/4-3-2/1A…On Patrol (5) gets a lot of class relief here and the barn does “OK” on the drops. Gets a top rider up and will be a first time gelding today. Has a legit shot here against these types. Tales of War (6) has not started since Mach at Oaklawn Park, but the shippers from Hot Springs are doing well all over the country. This one has a second in only previous run here. I bet the 5 to win/place/show and then box the top 3 in the exacta. I will key the 5 over/under all the numbers in two smaller units.

4th: 7-6-(11)/(14)-4-10/(13)-5-8-(12)/3…Brew Pub (7) ran OK on debt at Churchill Downs and now will stretch out to a route for the first time. Barn is sneaky good and gets a lot of good pedigrees to work with. This one will get the blinkers for the first time today and the barn does not fare well with that angle — 0-for-18. Still, I can see this one running a good one. Sweet Kathern (6) comes from the barn of Wesley Ward and will make the career debut. Barn hits with .20% of those debuting on the sod. Works are solid enough to prep for this one. Look out with a rider who has scored with .32% of the last 22 rides for this outfit. I bet the 7-6 across the board and then box the top 3 in the exacta. I will key the 7-6 over/under all the numbers in two smaller units.

5th: 3-5/2-8/1-4-7…Claw (3) comes from the barn of Brad Cox and will make the KY debut after starting twice at Santa Anita. Drops into the claiming ranks for the first time and the barn hits with .28% of those kind. Rider has teamed up to go 2-for-4 in the last two weeks. Looks like a solid bet here and my first Key Play of the Day. I bet the 3 to win/place/show and then box the 3-5 in one exacta. I will key the 3 over/under the “all button” in two smaller units.

6th: 5-6/2-10-(12)/1-3-7/4-9-8…Messiah (5) has hit the board in each of the last 4 outings and has 3 wins in that mix. Gets a top veteran rider to take the reins here and looks to be training well for this effort. Barn hits with .16% of those making the 2nd start off a layup. Threat. Blue Steel (6) has two wins and two seconds in 6 starts this year and should fit nicely in this group. Barn hits with .11% of those making this surface switch and with .14% of those making the 3rd start off a layup. Consider. I bet the 5 to win/place/show and then box the top 2 in the exacta. I will key the 5-6 over/under the 2-10-12-1-3-7 in two smaller versions.

7th: 7-3-2/5-1/6…Healing (7) comes from the barn of Mike Maker, who normally does very well with his runners in this market. Drops off a poor last effort and should be OK here. Nice work over this surface and gets a clever rider who always tries his best. Has not hit the board in 3 tries this year, but was a perfect 2-for-2 last year. Look for more today. Perfect Beam (3) comes from the barn of Buff Bradley and my good friend drops this one considerably for this try. Hits with .33% when getting this kind of relief and should figure nicely with these kind. I bet the 7-3 across the board and then box the top 3 in the exacta.

8th: 6-3-1/8-7/4-5…Hillbilly Deluxe (6) has raced over this surface one other time and has a 3rd to show for the effort. Since running up against Mayfield last September, he has not been the same. But the barn hits with .13% of those making the 2nd start off the layup and figures here today. Per Diem (3) is a first timer from the barn of Dane Kobiske. Works are starting to improve and a top jock makes the saddle. Could pop on debut. Sky Ride (1) is under the care of a top horse-woman and she may have this one poised and ready to go from the rain. Look for this one to be a threat. I bet the 6-3 across the board and then box the top 3 in the exacta.

9th: 7-1-11/4-10-12/9-3/(15)-8-5-6…The finale is another sod try and I will go with my good friend Tom Proctor and his steed — Food and Wine (7). This 3YO gelded son of War Front goes for a barn that hits with .33% of those dropping from the MSW level into the MCL ranks. And, that’s with 43 runners. Gets a top rider here and should be a tough out. Smart Call (1) was claimed last time out by a top young trainer in Norm Casse. He has won with .44% of those making the first start for the new connections after a claim purchase. This one is 12-1 in the ML and, thus, my Upset Special of the Day. I bet — the 7-1 across the board and then box the top 3 in the exacta. I will key the 7-1 over/under the 11-4-10-12-9-3-8 in two smaller units.

Belmont Park Stakes:

3rd: 1-4/2-3…G3 Victory Ride Stakes…Frank’s Rockette (1) looks like a superstar in this 6.5-furlong spring. The only hiccup could be the distance, where she has lodged a second in her only try. Has faced some real good ones in the past and looks to go right to the front from the rail. Can she hold on the last 1/16th? Center Aisle (4) could be the spoiler. Definitely will be running late with Joel Rosario up for trainer Chad Brown. Awesome on debut in March. I can toss the last one due to the slow start. Look for more out of this one today and you may, actually, get a price. I bet the 4 — take note — to win/place and then key the 4 over/under the “all button.”

8th: 2/7-5-9/4-1/6…G3 Poker Stakes…Valid Point (2) is my single here, even though the 4YO son of Scat Daddy will be making the 2020 debut. The colt won 3 of 4 last year, with the only hiccup coming in the G1 Shadwell Mile at KEE in October. He was favored that day, but had to steady in the late stretch and still only lost by 3 lengths. He was in the midst of his late move, too. Might be perfect, if not for that. Regular rider returns. I stick. I bet the 2 to win/place/show and then key the 2 over/under the “all button.” I will key the 2 over/under the numbers listed in another exacta couple.

9th: 3-5/2-7-8-6/1/4…G1 Met Mile…McKinzie (3) ships East for trainer Bob Baffert and it still amazes me the 5YO son of Street Sense gets such little respect. In 16 lifetime starts, he has a record of 8 wins, 6 seconds. He has won over $3.4 million. And, he nearly won this race last year — losing to the “Champ” Mitole by less than 1. This could be his best distance. In two starts he is 1-1-0. He should stalk the pace and under the mastership of HOF rider Mike Smith, McKinzie could be a tough out today. Code of Honor (5) is a superstar for a superstar trainer. Just don’t know if the mile distance is long enough for him. He’s good. But he will have to be great today to win. I bet the 3 to win/place and then bet the 3-5 exacta box. I will key the 3 over/under all the numbers listed in two smaller units.

10th: 1-5/4-2-7/8-3/6…G1 Manhattan Stakes…It would not be the first time that trainer Chad Brown sweeps a G1 Stakes event. And, it should not shock if he does it again today. He’s locked. He’s loaded. And, he looks unbeatable in here. I will give the edge to Instilled Regard (1), who will break from the rail under the guide of Irad Ortiz, Jr. Won the last out here in the G2 Ft. Marcy Stakes. Came late. Got up at the wire. In 7 turf races to date, has a 2-1-3 record. Only try at this distance, though, he has a third. Chink in armor? Devamani (5) ran 2nd to the top pick in the Ft. Marcy. Came real late and nearly won. Son of a Stakes winner who has thrown 4 turf winners from 4 starters — including 3 Stakes winners. Could be the up-and-coming one in this barn. I bet the 1-5 across the board and then box those two in the exacta. I key the 1-5 over/under the rest of the numbers in two smaller units.

11th: 8-6-1/7-5-4/3-2…G2 Suburban Stakes…Moretti (8) looks like he has it all figured out now. In the last five starts, he has hit the board and has won each of the last two — impressively. The win in the Flat Out Stakes over Sir Winston (6) was shocking and a thumping. Has the speed to control out front. But that was over the slop, that tends to help front-runners. Now moves up to face real runners. Can he duplicate on a fast track? Shall see. Sir Winston (6) should improve off the last outing. Never able to make up much ground on the lone speedster. Barn hits with .24% of those returning as a beaten favorite and with .18% in the 2nd try off a layup. Loves this track, too. I bet the 6 — take note — to win/place/show and then key the 6 over/under all the numbers listed.

Good Luck & All the Best / Gene