McLean’s Selections for Keeneland on Soggy Friday, Oct. 26

Day Results9-5-3-5
2018 Overall 1592591-576-701
Win % of Top Pick37.12%
Payoff % of Top 3 Picks Overall39.11%
Top Selection ITM / KEE: 93-14165.96%
Top Selection Win / KEE 52-14136.88%
“Key Horses”: 10-4-2 in 19 races52.63%

Thursday was a good day for Team McLean. We had 5 winners out of the 9 races, and 4 Exactas that paid OK. We missed the last Pick 5, though, when our single in the Featured 8th race was never a factor. We had the other 4, but…

Today, though, looks to be a bit more challenging. Unless you are a duck. Or akin to a duck. Or know which horses like to think of themselves as a duck. Rain has fallen for quite some time and there’s no doubt that the main track will be sealed, sloppy and wet and that the races will come off the turf.

So, here we go. I will try to emphasize those horses that get a “mud mark” from me.

1st: 5-2/8-7-3-1…Igottawhiteface (5) has never been over an “off track,” but the mud influence comes from her pedigree. Both the sire and dam side have a positive influence when it comes to the “off track.” This one ran well coming from off the pace in her only previous start, as well. Ran third behind a filly that has come right back to win again. If this 3YO daughter of Stroll can break a bit better in this spot, she may be tough to handle at the wire. Say It Softly (2) is 0-for-1 over an off-track, but has a solid “mud mark” influence in the pedigree, as well. This one ran second against tougher last time out and should fit with these on another class drop. Has raced 10 times so far with a couple of seconds and a third. But the work on Oct. 17 and the last race indicate that she fits here. I bet the 5-2 across the board and then box those two in one exacta. I key the 5-2 over the others in a softer version.

2nd: 8-9-2/5-3-7-1…The 9-2-7-1 all get positive mud marks…I will spread out a bit here, but give a slight edge to Elusive Bae (8). This one from the Ben Colebrook barn has been running over the poly at Arlington park this Summer. Drops in class for this one. Has never been on an off track, and the pedigree is just OK for it. but she does have some speed, and this track has played well to that all meet long. Molly’s Game (9) does have a second over an off-track in one start over it. Was claimed off Colebrook three starts back. Ran second at Churchill Downs two back when bumped up. Will have to improve today to have a shot against these. Cassidy Ave (2) gets solid mud numbers in the pedigree, but ran just OK over the slop this June at Churchill Downs. Was second last time out here at this same level. Came from far back in that one and had to wait for an opening at the 1/4-pole, too. A better trip could spell the difference today. I bet the 8-2 across the board and then box the top 3 numbers in the exacta.

3rd: 1/6-2-5/3-5…Wegotoldyougotsold (1) is a strangely named individual, but the 3YO gelding does have a bit of game. Has a second in only previous start over the slop, and that came at Saratoga this Summer. Was claimed out of that race, and has done well for the new connections since then Huge win here on Oct. 6, and if he can duplicate that effort today on the lead, he should draw off again. My first “KEY PLAY” and Best Best of the Day. I bet the 1 to win/place and then key the 1 over/under the 6-2-5. I will key the 1 over the 3-5 in a smaller version.

4th: 8-1/5-6-7-11/4-9-3-12…This was to be the first turf race of the day, but look for more than a few scratches in this tilt. (I’m posting long before the scratch time is announced.) Quiet Company (8) has raced once in her young career on the slop. In her career debut, she ran third going this distance, but led the entire way before tiring late and finishing a game and close third. She should be OK with the surface again today for a trainer who is doing well on the return to the racetrack barn area. Lady Worthington (1) is a first timer for the barn of Wesley Ward. A daughter of Scat Daddy, who can do very well with muddy types. This one has been training well here, and gets a hot rider in the saddle. I bet the 8-1 across the board and then box those 2 in the exacta. I key the 8-1 over /under the 5-6-7-11.

5th: 11-5/2-3/6-9-4-8…Divine Favor (11) is 6-1 in the ML, and I 2YO colt that I truly like in this spot. Solid numbers in the pedigree for an off track, and the dam has 2 winners from 2 starters. Has been training quite nicely for the debut today, and the barn hits with .17% of those making the first start in the MCL ranks. Mister Harvey (5) has solid pedigree numbers for the mud, as well, and despite the fact he has never run over such a surface, I think he can handle it. Finished third at this level when dropped into the MCL ranks last time out. Ran well there before tiring late. Was the beaten favorite and the barn hits with .31% of those returning from such a fate. I bet the 11-5 to win/place/show and then box those two solidly in one exacta. I key the 11-5 over/under the 2-3 in two more softer versions.

6th: 6-10-11/8-5-9-1/4-3…I go with the #6 in the 6th race. Can’t go wrong with that strategy, right? Doc Kane (6) is coming off a nice second in the slop at Churchill Downs in the last out. Led all the way until tiring late in that one. In his only two races over an off track, he has a win and the second. Gets a new rider for this one today, and the trainer is having a very nice meet with 2 winners in 9 starts. Class Won (10) is another who has a second over an off track, that coming two starts back against much, much tougher at Saratoga. Ran fourth against tougher last time out at Belmont Park, tiring late in that one. Gets a new barn today, but they have hit with .13% of those returning as a beaten favorite. Watch out here. Smoke Monster (11) has a second in his only previous start over the mud. Drops way down the pecking order for the barn of Brad Cox. Trainer hits with .28% of those hitting the claiming ranks for the first time. Nice work on Oct. 20. I bet the 6-11 across the board and then box the top 3 in one exacta.

7th: 6-1-4/5-3/2-7…Another grass race that is more than likely to be contested over the main track. (Watch to see if the races have been moved off the turf.) I handicapped this one for the turf, but I really like both of my top picks on any surface. Bird’s Eye View (6) is 0-for-1 on an off-track, but has a solid pedigree — especially on the dam side — to be able to run over the wet, main track. Had a super nice work over the mud at Monmouth Park on Aug. 13, as well. So, this son of Mizzen Mast looks like he can transfer, if need be. Gets a top rider if he sticks in the race. Tigers Rule (1) has a third in his only previous try over an off track. That came here last October, when he ran second in the G3 Bourbon Stakes — losing by a dirty nose to Flameaway (who just went on to win the Tampa Bay Derby this year). Ceevee (4) has never been on an off-track, but has very solid pedigree numbers in that category on both sides of the ledger. Has been working lights out here, too. I bet the 1 to win/place/show (Take Note) in this spot and then key the 1 over/under all the numbers I have listed in the exactas.

8th: 10-2-4/7-8-3-1/5-9…Nice co-feature today, led by my top 3 choices in here. Cathedral Reader (10) has raced two times previously over an off-track. Has a second and a third to show for her efforts. Pedigree solid for that footing, as well, particularly on the dam side. Ran a great race on debut to win by nearly 7, and came back to face a real good one in the slop on June 21. Ran a good third in the slop in that one. Was beaten a head in the slop last time out at Churchill Downs. Solid choice. Haynesfest (2) leap-frogs to the second spot with the wet going. She is a perfect 2-for-2 on an off-track, and has solid pedigree numbers for that footing, as well. Won easily last time out as the odds-on favorite at Churchill Downs in the slop on Sept. 23. Has come back to work nicely since then, too. Trainer picks up the meet’s top rider in the saddle. Can’t dismiss this one. Dulce Ride (4) goes for a red hot trainer, who has a win and a second in just three mounts this meet. This one ran a game second the last time out when switching to the main surface at Santa Anita. Never been on the mud, but the pedigree numbers are off the charts. Should adapt very nicely. Could be a nice addition to the mix at 6-1 ML odds. I bet the 10 across the board and then box the top 3 numbers in the exacta.

9th: 6-5-3-4/7-10-9-8/2-1-12…This is another one scheduled for the turf. Try to keep an eye out to see if this one may stay on the sod. If it does, then look to those that have performed well over a soft, yielding type surface. If not, look for the mud marks. I will go with Speedy Solution (6) if it stays on the sod. If not, this one would drop somewhat in my rankings. The sire just doesn’t have enough runners yet to determine whether or not they have a strong preference. But this one ran a “better than it looks” 6th in the G2 Jessamine Stakes last time out against a potential super star. Lightscameraaction (5) does have a solid pedigree for the mud, and has run on both dirt and turf so far in her 7 race career. Would have a cause to make in here either way. Noble Love (3) ran on the slop in her career debut. Ran fifth that day and was beaten 11 lengths, but the winner has turned out to be a good one. And, the runner-up in that one came right back to win. So, I think she hooked a good crowd. Like the 15-1 ML odds. Princess Causeway (4) has never been on an off track yet, but she has the pedigree to perform well over it, especially a strong influence from the dam side. Ran super last time out and the 12-1 odds could spice up the rack. I bet the 6 if it stays on the grass. If not, I will switch to the 3-4, and then box the 5-3-4 in the Exacta. 

10th: 1-3/7-5-4-2/9-12-6-8…I will spread out just a bit in today’s finale, led by Naughty Joker (1). This one ran a super second over the grass at KY Downs on debut on Sept. 6. That’s a tough place for a newcomer to begin the career, and this one was bet down to favoritism, and ran huge after an awful beginning. Can’t afford a hiccup at the gate in this one, but if she can get away cleanly — she may be tough to catch today. Best Bet. I will also use Ulele (3) in this spot. This one is a daughter of Candy Ride, who has been awesome as an “off-track” sire. She will be making her career debut in this spot, and the barn hit with .22% of those; 26% in the MSW category. Dam has a winner from 2 starters and the barn normally sends them out there ready to fire. I bet the 1 to win/place/show and then box the 1-3 solidly in the exacta. I will key the 1 over/under the 7-5-4-2 in two more. I will key the 1 over (only) the 9-12-6-8 in a much softer 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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