Day Results 9-4-5-2
2019 Overall 1,113 1,113/396-392-506
Win % of Top Pick 35.58%
Payoff % of Top 3 Picks Overall 38.75%
2019 Top Pick in the Money –745 of 1,113 66.94%
Top Selection ITM / KEE 54-95 56.84%
Top Selection Win / KEE 29-95 30.53%
“Key Horses” @ KEE 11-1-1-1 0.09%
“Key Horses” in 2019 185-71-36-22 38.38%

We got on a bit of a hot roll on Thursday, and it was so much fun. Had some great friends at the track and we all enjoyed our day so immensely. Cashed a few tickets. Had a run with the “Show” parlay.

Laughed. Hugged. Enjoyed.

That’s what a “Day at the Races” is truly all about.

Fun. Laughs. Memories. Stories.

There’s no better people than Brad Rateike and his lovely bride, Loren Mills.

There’s no better people than David Osborne, the Speaker of the Kentucky House of Representatives — who is as quick with a smile as he is with a handicapping tip. The man knows his politics. Almost as much as he knows his horses. Smooth as the withers of Omaha Beach.

There really is no better people than the “Team” at Top Shelf Lobby — including the dapper Marc Wilson, Kevin Peyton and Travis Phillips.

And, there’s really, really, really no better person in the entire world than my beautiful bride — the kingpin of Top Shelf and our household — the lovely Leigh Ann Thacker.

What a day.

Now, we are back for a little more Thoroughbred action today at the wonderful Keeneland, and I will be traveling 3.5 hours to see the opening day of Standardbred action at the new Oak Grove Racing facility in Southwest Kentucky. The new facility, which is owned by a collaboration between Keeneland and Churchill Downs — will begin its’ inaugural race meet today.

I will be there. Photos and stories to come.

But here’s a closer look at today’s card at Keeneland. I will have to get Kenny Jackson to give me some tips and handicapping advice on the Standardbreds.


Race 1: 5-1/4-3-2…What a wide, wide, wide open race to kick start the day. I have gone back and forth on this one several times. Finally, I landed on Tidal Effect (5) as my top pick in this $50,000 claimer that will be contested at the 11/16-mile distance. This 4YO gelded son of Malibu Moon gets a new trainer and a new destination today. Previously, he did all his run on the West Coast. Ran 5th last time out when touring the surface at Del Mar back in August. Has been working lights out here since arriving in Louisville in mid-September. Looks real to try these today for a barn that hits with .09% of newcomers. Has only 1 win in 12 lifetime starts, but does have 4 seconds on the resume. Gets a heady rider that knows the finish line. Will be closing well in the late moves. Peppered (1) will be making his 2nd start for the new connections. Had trouble at the start of the last race and that was the first try in nearly a year. Barn has had only 4 starters this year. But a good horseman leads the operation. Look for more today. I bet the 5 to win/place/show and then box the 5-1 in one exacta. I will key the 5 over/under the 1-4-3-2 in two smaller versions.

Race 2: (16)-2-4-8/11-10-12/6-5/9-3-(14)…The first grass even t of the day will be run over 11/16-miles of firm grass and I will give the strong edge to Velvet Crush (16) on the extreme outside. But…It is very unlikely if this 2YO son of Tapit makes the field today. If he does? I go. If he doesn’t, then we look on. Repossession (2) looks as good as any in here. The first time starter is a daughter of War Front, and he cost a handsome $750,000 at the Fasig-Tipton Sale at Saratoga in August of 2018. Has been working lights out here for a barn that only scores with .10% of those debuting on the sod. But…this one has the pedigree and the morning jaunts look promising. Love the rider here. Best in the biz when it comes to grass racing. The Path Not Taken (4) is another making the career debut today. This one is bred across the pond and is trained by the grass-whisperer Chad Brown. Works OK, but this one has been at Monmouth Park and not with the 1st string in NY. Interesting. Iran Ortiz, Jr. comes in and takes the mount. Mixed signals for me. Rain Dance (8) is the most experienced of the leading trio. This 2YO daughter ran 8th on debut at Ellis Park back in August. Looked like she was in a nice stalking spot and ready to pounce, when she tried in that 1-mile event. Perhaps the race and conditioning have helped, and the barn is having a super meet here. Hits with .12% of those making the second career start. I bet the 2 to win/place/show and then box the top 3 numbers in the exacta. I will bet the top 3 numbers over (only) the next 3 numbers in a smaller version.

Race 3: 10-6/1-3-8/2-7…This is a 1-mile event over the main track for 2YOs being offered for the claiming price of $50,000. I will go back outside and select Catholic Guilt (10) in this spot. This son of Hard Spun will be making the second career start for trainer Brad Cox, who is having another super year. Has won with .26% of the 728 horses he has saddled. This one didn’t show a lot in the career debut at Churchill Downs in September. But has trained well since that debut run and gets a significant class drop for this one. Top rider picks up the mount. Look for more here today. Tiny Danza (6) is another getting class relief today. Plus, the barn will add blinkers for the first time. Trainer hits with .21% of those wearing the shades for the first time. Ran a deep, deep closing 3rd last time out. Showed a little life and run for the first time. Maybe the blinkers will help add a tough of speed. I bet the 10-6 across the board and then box those 2 in the exacta. I will key the 10-6 over/under the rest of the numbers in two smaller versions.

Race 4: 10-9/7-8/4…Cold Smoke (10) is another outside runner; another from the barn of Brad Cox; another getting rider Joel Rosario to take the reins; and another 2YO dropping from MSW company into the MCL ranks. Like the way this one has returned to the work tab after the first start. Well bet in that one, too. Should be more in the bit early on today, I would think. Davidic Line (9) ran well at this level last time out at CD. Came running with a solid 2nd, stalking the leaders from the get-go. Top trainer looking to avoid the “duck” here this meet, and this one could provide the feathers. Barn hits with .23% of those returning as a beaten fav. I bet the 10-9 across the board and then box those 2 in the exacta. I will key the 10-9 over/under the 7-8-4 in two lesser versions.

Race 5: 3-6/9/12-10-4-7-5/8-2…This turf event will be contested at the sprint distance of 5.5 furlongs and I will go with My Galina (3). This one will race for Mark Casse for the first time, and is coming off a solid 2nd up at Saratoga at this same distance. Odds-on that day and just missed. New barn hits with .18% of those making the first start for the new connections, and with .25% of those coming back as a beaten favorite. This one has faced some good ones in the past. Look out here. Chelsea Cloisters (6) comes from a barn operation that loves these kinds of races. And, does well with them, too. This 3YO filly has only 1 win in 9 lifetime tries. But she has 4 seconds and 2 thirds to show on the resume. If she can overcome her tendency to hang with others late in the going, she could be a handful here. After all, she ran 2nd to Bulletin and the colts in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf last November. Talent is there. I bet the 6 — take note — to win/place/show and then box the top 2 numbers in one exacta. I will key the 6 over/under all the numbers listed in two smaller versions.

Race 6: 7-4/6/3-11-2/5-8-9-1…This is a very nice MSW event — going the sprint distance of 6 furlongs — for the 2YO fillies. I land on Jilted Bride (7), who comes from the barn of HOF trainer Steve Asmussen. This gal nearly won on debut at Churchill Downs in September. Barn hits with .22% of those making the 2nd career start, and this one has trained super since the inaugural running. My pick. Recoded (4) ran well for Ian Wilkes on debut at Churchill Downs in September, as well. The 2Y Honor Code filly was 2nd, making a big, late run. Barn normally does much better with a little experience under the girth, and this one could pop up huge in this spot today. Love the 6-1 ML odds. Take a look here. I bet the 7-4 across the board and then box those 2 in the exacta. I will key the 7-4 over/under the 6-3-11-2-5 in two smaller versions.

Race 7: 5-9/3/8-6-1-2-7…Emmaus (5) looks ready for this 11/16-mile journey over the sod today. The Irish-bred 5YO is coming off a tough outing in the G1 Woodbine Mile. Caught some of the best in that affair, who will be making their next start in the Breeders’ Cup. Nobody in here as good as those top 3 runners in the last out. This one is 0-for-4 this year, but has two nice seconds — one coming in a G2 event up at Woodbine. Look for this one to be tough to handle in this spot today. Mighty tough. Cullum Road (9) is another exiting a series of Stakes events. This one is a perfect 2-for-2 over this grass course, and won impressively here back in April. Gets a top rider, who guided him to a 2nd in a Stakes down at KY Downs two races back. Trainer having a good meet. I bet the 5 to win/place/show and then box the 5-9 in the exacta. I will key the 5-9 over/under the 3-8-6-1-2-7 in two smaller versions.

Race 8: 8-4/9-6-5/2-1/3-7…I go with the #8 in the 8th race — Motion Emotion (8). This 3YO Take Charge Indy filly has only one race under her belt since running 9th to Serengeti Empress in this year’s KY Oaks. Came back in September to run 5th in a Stakes event at Los Alamitos on the West Coast for the new barn operation of Richard Baltas. Now, she is back here. And, the works look promising in the a.m. She ran a very nice second to Lady Apple in the G3 Fantasy Stakes. She ran a very nice second to Chocolate Kisses in the G3 Honeybee. Talent is here. And, there. But if she clicks today? Look out. Proud Emma (4) ran in the G1 Acorn Stakes last time out, finishing behind the great Guarana, that day. Been off since that June race. Working lights out at Churchill Downs. Look at the Oct. 5 drill. Barn has won with 3 out of the first 6 starters here this meet. Top rider in the land takes the reins. Watch out. I bet the 8-4 across the board and then lock them up in a nice exacta box. Solid. I key the 8-4 over (only) the 9-6-5-2-1.

Race 9: 2-4-7/11-13-10/9-12-6/5-1-3…G3 Pin Oak Valley View Stakes…Today’s Stakes event is a good one, with many talented 3YO fillies with a big chance. I will give the edge to Blowout (2), coming from the barn of Chad Brown. The trainer has won with .30% of the first 20 starters here this meet. But it could have been so much better, it seems. Wow. This one is coming off a gate-to-wire win in the Pebbles Stakes at Belmont in September. Has loads of speed. And, likes to flash it early and often. But…In 4 tries at the distance, she has only 1 win. Two more seconds. And, a third. Always trying. Can’t ignore that. Winter Sunset (4) is a classy daughter of Tapit, and has had a super year with 2 wins, a second and 2 thirds in 6 starts. Ran last at Indy Grand the first part of September. Overwhelmed that crowd. Has faced some good ones this year, too. Lost by only a length to Concrete Rose at the Fair Grounds earlier this year. If she can flash that race again? Wow. And, 8-1 ML odds? My Upset Special of the Day. Another filly to watch here may be Catch a Bid (7), who is coming off a win in the last out for Brown. That came at Saratoga in August. this 3YO daughter of Real Solution is very lightly raced, to date. Has only 3 starts. But has 2 wins and a second. Gets Irad Ortiz, Jr. for the mount, too. Will be coming late. Don’t forget the “other” Brown horse here. I bet the 4-7 across the board — take note. I then box the top 3 numbers in the exacta. I will key the top 3 numbers over (only) the 11-13-10-9-12 in a smaller version.

Race 10: 7-4/9-6-3/1-8…Fra Mauro (7) gets a solid check for me in today’s finale. This one will be converting from the grass over to the main track for trainer Tom Amoss, and will be getting a huge class plunge, as well. Barn hits with .30% of those making this surface switch, and with .40% of those dropping down this much in class. Last time he raced on the dirt came in October of 2018. Got beat a length in that one over a sloppy track. Has never been on a fast dirt surface, except in the a.m. Works there are OK. Violent Storm (4) will get a huge drop in class from young trainer Norm Casse. Barn hits with .27% of those getting this surface switch, too. Never been offered this low in the claiming game. And, the barn is having a very good meet, so far. Don’t dismiss here. I bet the 7-4 across the board and then box those 2 in the exacta. I will key the 7-4 over/under the rest of the numbers listed above.

Good Luck & All the Best / Gene