McLean’s Selections for Keeneland on Saturday, Oct. 20

Day Results10-4-1-2
2018 Overall 1556576-563-681
Win % of Top Pick37.02%
Payoff % of Top 3 Picks Overall38.99%
Top Selection ITM / KEE: 68-10564.76%
Top Selection Win / KEE 37-10535.24%
“Key Horses”: 9-4-2 in 17 races52.94%

Won the first four in a row to begin the Friday card, and I thought we were off to the races. Well, we were at the races.

Didn’t close out the card with another winner, but had three solid seconds in the final six races. Our best was reserved for the exactas, where we hit six out of 10 and was rewarded with returns of $5.50, $18.80, $7.60, $47.20, $14.90, and $12.90 for each $1 wagered.

In all, our top selection hit the board in 8 of 10 races, and our “Key” horses and plays went 1-1-1 in three races.


We are right there and knocking on the door. Let’s try to knock it down today. Here’s a look at the Saturday card:

1st: 1-2-6-3…One River Place (1) gets a slight edge for me in this spot today. This 4YO colt comes from the barn of Tim Glyshaw, who has made his way to the winner’s circle twice in just five races this meet. This one drops down to his lowest level ever and just three races ago, he was on a hot streak — with four top 3 finishes in a row. Rail is winning at a 25% rate this meet, too. Drop Kick (2) is likely to be the PT favorite, and will get Jose Ortiz in the saddle today. Was claimed last time out and the new operation hits with .19% of those making the first start for the barn. Ran well to be second as the beaten favorite in the last race, and in five starts at this distance, this one has a record of 2-1-1. Zombie (6) gets a huge drop in class for this one today. Ran third at Saratoga in that effort, too, and should be tough in this spot for a trainer having a solid meet. Iowa-bred has run well against open company before, and is 3-1-2 in 7 races this year. Has to figure. I bet the 1 across the board and then box the top 3 numbers in the exacta.

2nd: 5-1-2/6-7…Absolute Love (5) has made the starting gate 12 times in the career to date, and is still looking for that first trip to the circle. This one does have 4 seconds and 3 thirds, though, and has been facing much tougher throughout her career. Love the work at Churchill Downs on Oct. 13. Has a third over this track, too. Today? Key Moment (1) will go from the turf to the dirt for a trainer that hits with .14% making this surface switch. Young rider is having a super meet, but this filly has only 2 thirds in the first 10 starts. Will make the second start at this level, but had trouble in the last out. Was in tight quarters and steadied in that affair. Could improve with a clean trip. Fiduciary Values (2) will be making the second career start for this barn after being claimed off Chad Brown at Saratoga this July. Didn’t do much at the MSW level last time out, but should improve immensely with the drop in class here. Blinkers come off, and the trainer hits with an amazing .35% of those losing the equipment in 51 starts this year. I bet the 5-2 across the board and then box the top 3 in the exacta.

3rd: 2-8/4-3-1/6-12-5-11-10…I will focus on the top 2 numbers in this grouping, led by Sister Kitten (2). This 2YO Kitten’s Joy filly will get the saddle from the Chad Brown barn, and this one ran second to a filly by the name of Newspaperofrecord in the career debut. Was well-beaten in that one, but the winner has already come back to win again and is now considered a top contender for the BC Juvenile Fillies Turf. Jose Ortiz gets the reins again and I would look for improvement today. Hidden Facts (8) nearly won the first try over the grass at Saratoga back in late August. Trainer hits with .13% of those getting treated with Lasix for the second time, and this one should be much better after a nice work here on Oct. 7. I bet the 2 to win/place/show and then box the 2-8 in on exacta solidly. I will key the 2 over/under the 4-3-1 in two more.

4th: 5-3-7/4-6…Synthesis (5) was scratched out of the final race on Friday after drawing an impossible outside post. The connections decided to go in this spot, instead, and it may be a great decision. Shorter field for this 2YO who ran a distant third to the great Instagrand in the G2 Best Pal and 6th in the G3 Iroquois. Now, falls back to try and break his maiden. Love the work on Oct. 13. Standout here. Curlin Grey (3) may be the PT favorite for the barn of Ken McPeek. Comes in off a nice second to Mr. Money in the last out. Trainer hits with .14% of those making the third start off a layup, and gets a top rider this meet in the irons. The dam of this one was a Stakes winner, who has produced 8 starters and 4 winners to date. Thundershook (7) is another from the barn of McPeek. This one has run three thirds in the first five career starts. Ran just behind his stablemate last time out. Has been wide in each of the last three races. Could improve with a cleaner trip today. I bet the 5 to win/place/show and then box the top 3 in on exacta. I will key the 5 over the 4-6 in two more at a lesser number.

5th: 6-3/7-4-5-2…Mineyerownmalone (6) has hit the board in each of the last two, and was claimed two races back by this barn operation. Nearly won the last time out here on Oct. 5 when rolling late after a horrendous start. If this one can break just a tad better, he made be unstoppable against this bunch today. In 10 starts this year, he has a 3-2-1 record. Should be sitting on go. Surprise Prize (3) ran second in his last out and has hit the board in each of the last three tries. Over the last 10 efforts, he has hit the board in 9 of them. Ultra consistent one picks up a new rider today. Work here on Oct. 12 was OK. Should be the one to catch on the lead. I bet the 6 to win/place/show and then box the top 2 in the exacta. I will key the 6-3 over the rest in a much smaller version, as well.

6th: 1-2-10/5-8-9-11/7-6-3…These sprints over the turf are some of the most difficult races in the game to handicap correctly. A simple bobble or a bad spot can ruin a horse’s chances in a blink of an eye. In this spot, I will give a slight edge to the inside, led by Taxman (1). This one does like to stalk the pace, and that may be compromising in this rail trip, but he ran super in his first U.S. start in September at KY Downs. Now, he moves up to face winners for the first time today. Trainer hits with .20% of those moving up in that class. Fooch (2) ran second to the top choice in his first try over the grass, and came right back to dominate a similar race at Belmont Park in early October. In 6 starts, he has a 1-1-3 record. Loves the lead and will likely be right there to begin this one. The cut back in distance may give this one a huge advantage over his nemesis. Trappezoid (10) comes from a barn that does well with those switching surfaces from dirt to turf (.17% in 316 starts). The dam of this one has a turf winner, and he should relish his first time on the sod today. Cuts back in distance, too, and has faced tougher on the dirt. Could pop with a top rider in the saddle. I bet the 1-2 across the board and then box the top 3 numbers in the exacta. I will key the 1-2 over the 5-8-9-11 in a smaller version, as well.

7th: 4-7/3-1-5-6-2…I will focus my betting strategy on the top two numbers in this list, led by Life (4) — who is a huge favorite in the ML. This 4YO daughter of Paddy o’Prado is dropping down in class for this spot today, and will get the benefit of the blinkers going back on The last two times that she wore the shades, she had a nice win at Churchill Downs last November. Like the work at Churchill Downs’ training center on Oct. 11. One to beat. Lil Vie (7) ran super well over the dirt when switching surfaces last time out at Churchill Downs in late September. Was heavily bet in that one and didn’t disappoint, running off to a near 7-length win. Has a win over an “off track” and picks up one of the leading riders in the world for this one. I bet the 4-7 across the board and then box those two solidly in the exacta. May key the 4-7 over the rest in a much smaller version.

8th: 2-4-6/8-9/1-7…Hopefully, this one stays on the sod today. If it does, it promises to be a wonderful endurance test for these fillies and mares. My top pick is my “Upset Special of the Day” — Night Owl (2). This 3YO filly by Animal Kingdom is well bred for the grass and ran much better than it looks on paper in the last out at KY Downs. Was compromised in that one, if you watch the video. Top rider sticks in the saddle, and the trainer hits with .10% of those making the second start for the barn and .17% of those making the second start off a layup. Love the 6-1 ML odds, and that could drift up the ladder, too. Peru (4) is the horse to beat, having won the last two. This one has gone this 11/2 miles before, too, finishing second in the only try at the distance. Good right now, and the trainer hits with .22% with those making the second start off the layoff. Shezaprado (6) is another from the barn of Mike Maker, who is having a solid meet. Drops down in class after trying Stakes company last time out. Before that effort, she won at Ky Downs in a great closing run. Top young rider sticks today and this one could be a force in the late going. I bet the 2-6 across the board and then box the top 3 in the exacta. I key the top 3 over the 8-9 in a smaller version.

9th: 9-1-6/11-5-4-10-14/7-3-8-2…G2 Raven Run Stakes…A wide open event for the 3YO fillies, for sure. Lots of places to go, but I will give the slight edge to the brilliantly fast Moonshine Memories (9), who will be traveling South from Saratoga where she made a third place finish in the G2 Prioress in the last out for trainer Simon Callaghan, and East from Del Mar, where she won two races ago. This filly was one of the best in the land as a 2YO last year, winning her first three starts and two G1s at in California. Has raced 4 times this year with a 1-1-1 record against some of the best in the land. Was fourth to Monomoy Girl three back and was third to Dream Tree in the last. If she breaks cleaner and can make her way to the near front, she could be a strong out in this one with Mike Smith up. Amy’s Challenge (1) was super good earlier this year, winning the Dixie Belle and running second in the G3 Honeybee at Oaklawn Park. Came back from a three month layoff to win a grass sprint at Canterbury in the last out. This one can sprint, and has speed to burn. Look for this one to jump right to the front from the rail. Love the works here since arriving. And, 8-1 odds? Are you kidding me? Kelly’s Humor (6) ran a super one here in April, finishing second to Gas Station Sushi in the G3 Beaumont Stakes. Was stretched out too far after that, but this is one of the best closing sprinters in the land for 3YO fillies, and should like the early pace scenario. Can’t dismiss. I bet the 9-1 across the board and then box the top 3 numbers in the exacta.

10th: 1-12-9/2-10-8-4/6-5-11/(13-15)…Watch to see if the two on the AE List draw in. They could figure if they do. If not, I will go back to the inside one more time today with Lady Leah (1). this filly ran well on debut at KY Downs, and has every right to improve over a more traditional course in this spot. The pedigree suggests she should relish the extra ground, and a top rider gets the mount again. Look for this one to be tough in the late going. Cosmic Code (12) is a first timer for the barn of Brad Cox, who hits with .27% of those making the debut on the sod. Been working well for the initial start and this one is super well bred, to boot. Trish the Dish (9) will be getting Lasix for the first time, and that should help this one — who had the misfortune of getting Miss Technicality in the first out back in July. I look for immense improvement out of this one today. I bet the 1-9 across the board and then box the top 3 numbers in the exacta. I will key the top 3 over the 2-10-8-4 in a much smaller version.

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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