McLean’s Selections for Keeneland on Friday, April 19

Day Results9-2-5-3
2019 Overall 533533/201-201-261
Win % of Top Pick37.71%
Payoff % of Top 3 Picks Overall41.46%
2019 Top Pick in the Money –375 of 53170.62%
Top Selection ITM / KEE 43-6170.49%
Top Selection Win / KEE 21-6134.43%
“Key Horses” @ KEE 8-5-2-162.50%
“Key Horses” in 2019 115-47-22-1340.87%
Upset Special of the Day/ KEE 11-2-0-218.18%

Another weak day for us at the Keeneland oval on Thursday, cashing only two winning tickets out of the nine races carded on the day. But an old (I prefer to use the word “long time”) friend of mine told me a “long time” ago that the toughest day of the week to handicap and make money is Thursday. Don’t know why, really. But I have found his logic to be true and sound, through my own experiences.

Today, we should find some soggy conditions as we arrive at the most beautiful place on God’s green and majestic Earth. After all, April showers do bring May flowers — and we have a whole bunch of roses scheduled for harvest on that first week of May.

But it will make today’s handicapping a little more challenging, as well. There are 3 grass races carded today, and I suspect that all of them will be moved to the main track. Check the scratches. They may be aplenty.

Here’s our look at today’s card:

1st: 3-8/4-6/5-7…Turner Time (3) has raced three times in his career on an off-track, and has won two of them. Had his three race win streak snapped last time out, running third here on April 4. But the trainer — who claimed this one three starts back — has won .29% of the last 59 starters, and has won .26% on the dirt. Jockey has won .33% of the time for this barn in the last 60 days, too. Redemption today. Brerry (8) ran second and nipped our top pick in the last outing here on April 4. Is the 8-5 ML choice here, too. Has not won a race since March 29 of last year, though, and that is troublesome for me. Does have a win and a third over an off-track in the past an should be running on well at the end. Can’t totally dismiss. I bet the 3 to win/place/show and then box the top 2 numbers in the exacta. I will key the 3 over/under the 8-4-6-5-7 in two smaller versions.

2nd: 2-8/5-1A/3-1-7/9-6…Cap de Creus (2) is the 9-5 ML favorite here, and looks the part in this field of maidens. Ran fourth here last October over a sloppy track. Started this year with two races over the sod. Gets back to the main track today for a barn that scores with .24% of them that make this surface switch, and with .27% of those that return as a beaten favorite. Love the works down at Palm Beach Downs since the last race in February. Trainer has a 3-2-0 record here in just 9 starts. My pick. Lady Hester (8) will get the girth tightened today by a new trainer for the first time, and the services of a new rider, to boot. Comes off two seconds in a row up North, and in 9 career starts, this 5YO Bernardini mare has 3 seconds and 2 thirds. One of those seconds came in her only trip over an off-track. I can key her underneath. I bet the 2 to win/place/show and then box the 2-8 in one exacta. I will key the 2 over/under the 8-5-1A-3-1-7 in two smaller versions.

3rd: 1-2-5/4/6-3…This is a really nice sprint over the main track for the 3YO fillies, and I will give a slight edge to the rail runner — Into the South (1). This Into Mischief filly ran a bang-up second last time out at Oaklawn Park, nearly pulling off the win in just her second start this year and first move since mid-January. Has come back to work super here on April 13. Trainer is trying to get off the “duck,” but is highly underrated. Royal Charlotte (2) may be the horse to beat. Trained by Chad Brown and to be ridden by Jose Ortiz, this one broke the maiden in impressive fashion in the career debut on March 16 at GP. Ran off by 4 that day. Has worked well here, too. Hard to bet against Chad Brown, who has a 6-6-3 mark here in 20 starts. Pedigree suggests she can handle an off-track, too. Bingwa (5) is another one that has flashed a lot of speed and talent in her brief career to date. Comes in with a win and a nice second over this track last Fall. Has not been out since Oct. 19, but is training lights out for a red hot trainer. Gets a top rider who has scored with .33% of the 12 mounts for this barn over the last 60 days. Don’t leave out. I bet the 1-5 across the board and then box the top 3 numbers in the exacta.

4th: 1-9-12/5-11/(14-16) -8-10/7…This is a MCL event for the 3YO fillies, and will be contested at the former “Beard Course” distance of 7 furlongs. I’ll go back to the inside post again here with Out Till Dawn (1). This one has a nice enough “off-track” pedigree, and will be dropping all the way from a MSW event at Turfway Park to the $20,000 price tag here. Works since the inaugural run have been solid, and will get Lasix for the first time today. May have bled in that first career move. Was in contention and then dropped out quickly and significantly. I look for improvement with the medication today. Don’t Tell Lydia (9) has run 11 times already in her life and does have 4 seconds and 2 thirds on the resume. One of those seconds and thirds came over an off-track, too. Still, she couldn’t win at the $12,500 price tag down in New Orleans in the lat out. Questions. Lorette (12) drops from $30,000 to this level today after tiring mightily in the final stages of a 1-mile race over the slop at the Fair Grounds in the last try. Will get a nice rider switch for this one and may be able to use her speed a bit more judiciously in this spot. Barn hits with .25% of those returning as a beaten favorite. I bet the 1-12 across the board and then box the top 3 numbers in the exacta. I will key the 1-12 over/under the 9-5-11 in two smaller versions.

5th: 2-1-8/4-9/5-7/3…Another sprint event for the 3YO fillies here, and I will give the edge to a first time starter from the barn of Brad Cox — Hoppa (2). This daughter of Uncle Mo certainly has the pedigree to excel on an off-track, and her works here have been off the charts impressive. Trainer is hitting at .29% here after winning the Trainer’s Title at the Fair Grounds this Winter/Spring. Rider has hit with an impressive .39% of the last 46 rides for this barn, too. Watch out here. I bet the 2 to win/place/show and then box there top 3 numbers in the exacta. I will key the 2 over (only) the 4-9-5-7-3 in one other exacta.

6th: 9-7-8/11/3-1-2/4-5…This is the first turf race carded today, and if the rains come as fast and furious as the projections indicate, I can’t see this one going the 5.5-furlongs on the sod. Take a look at the monitors to check it out and see if there are scratches. I will go on top with Blackout (9), who does have a second on the resume in his only trip over an off-track. Ships in from California for trainer Peter Miller and draws the attention of one of the hottest riders in the land right now. If he goes in this spot, I will support. What’sontheagenda (7) has never been on an off-track in his 14 races to date, but he is another California shipper for the barn of Doug O’Neill. In those 14 starts to date, he has a 3-3-4 record. Like the rider choice and the speed this one has. Lawton (8) is 8-1 in the ML, but may pick up support if the race is moved to the dirt. In 3 tries over an off-going, he has a win and a third. I bet the 9 to win/place/show and then box there top 3 numbers in one exacta. I will key the top 3 numbers over/under the 11 in a smaller version.

7th: 3-4/10-6-5/9-2-7…Another MSW event for the 3YO fillies, and I will give a strong edge to Guarana (3), who hails from the barn of Chad Brown. The dam of this one has 1 winner from 1 starter to date, and the pedigree gets strong, strong mud marks for me. Works have been outstanding, too. My pick. I bet the 3 to win/place/show and then box the 3-4 in one exacta. I will key the 3 over/under the 4-10-6-5-9 in two smaller versions.

8th: 12-8-4-(13)/10-1-5/2-7-9-(16)…The second of the three grass races carded is slated to be contested at the 1-mile distance. Again, I will lean towards horses in here that either have shown some ability on the main track, or have the pedigree to suggest that can convert over to that surface with some proficiency. If the race is moved, I doubt that Zonza (12) will make the gate. She is a talent that has shipped over from France and into the barn of Chad Brown. Will love a soft footing on grass, but probably stays in the barn if the race is moved. Amandine (8) is another who started the career in Europe and would relish a soft footing on grass, too. Another who may likely scratch if the race is converted to the dirt. Limari (4) has never been on anything but grass, too, but her sire suggests a stronger off-track likability. Comes in on a three-race win streak, too. The sleepers here could be English Dancer (13), if she gets in from the AE List, and Lunar Garden (10). The former has a win over an off-track in her only start over such a surface, and the latter has run most of her races to date over the all-weather surface at Woodbine. Both may like an off-track today. Depending on the race surface, I will go with the 12-8 if it stays on the grass. If moved to the dirt, I will go with the 4-13-10. The 13 will be my key if she gets in.

9th: 3-2/8-1-7-6/5-4…G3 Doubledogdare Stakes…It could be a very good day for the barn of Chad Brown — who has had his fair share of those over the past few years, including here at Keeneland. I go with Electric Forest (3) in an upset here today. This one ran a very nice second when compromised mightily in the G3 Rampart Stakes at GP on Dec. 15. That was contested over a sloppy track, too, and she was boxed in and had to alter course on several occasions to even get a clear shot to run. Ran second as the betting favorite in there. Look for more and better today. Blue Prize (2) should be the post time favorite in this spot. The 6YO mare has won over $1.064 million in her career, including the G1 Spinster Stakes here last October. But she has not been out since running 4th to Monomoy Girl in the Breeders’ Cup Distaff. Interesting enough, she worked 5 furlongs just two days ago. Wow. Now, that is an interesting approach going into this race — which is 11/16 miles. OK. Last March, in her 2018 debut, she ran 7th in the G2 Azeri Stakes. Won her next out. Maybe she will need another one today. Does have a 1-2-1 mark for 4 races over an off-track. I bet the 3 to win/place/show and then key the 3 over/under the 2-8-1-7-6-5-4. 

10th: (14)-(15)-4/7-6-1-8-11/12-5…The finale is another one scheduled to be contested over the soggy sod. Again, I will handicap as if it will be moved to the main track. As such, I will go with two horses on the AE List or scheduled for MTO. Galindo (14) is a 3YO colt by Daaher, who has been solid with his progeny over an off-track. Produced 20% winners from 162 mud starters. Nice. This colt ran a nice 3rd two starts back over the slop at the Fair Grounds, too. Has hit the board in each of the last five races. Methodical (15) is entered for the MTO, and ran a disappointing 6th here on debut on April 6. Worked well going into that one, but didn’t fire much. Barn hits with .15% of those making the second career start, and .10% with those stretching out to two turns for the first time. Of those already in the main body of the race, I will give the nod to Vineyard Sound (4) — who is 15-1 ML odds. Likely to go down if moved to the dirt, but this son of Stormy Atlantic has a second in two starts over an off-track and ran a super second last time out to a nice horse. Gets a top rider. I bet the 14-4 across the board and then key those two (if the 14 draws in) over/under the 15-7-6-1-8-11 in the exactas.

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