Final Edition: McLean’s Selections for Keeneland on Thursday, Oct. 11

Day Results8-2-3-3
2018 Overall 1490554-542-651
Win % of Top Pick37.18%
Payoff % of Top 3 Picks Overall39.08%
Top Selection ITM / KEE: 26-3966.67%
Top Selection Win / KEE 15-3938.46%
“Key Horses”: 5-1-1 in 7 races71.43%

Thursday’s Card Analysis:

1st: 5/9-7/11-8/4-6-12…I will focus on the top 3 numbers in this MCL event for fillies and mares, led by Don’t Tell Lydia (5). This is is dropping to a career low level and should greatly appreciate the class relief. Ran very well at Churchill Downs on June 29 against much, much tougher. If she can find that run again, she may air this group. In 9 previous runs, she has 3 seconds and a third and I love the works at Churchill Downs of late. Top rider getting up doesn’t hurt a bit. Mizzen Colony (9) goes for a trainer who hasn’t had a bunch of luck this year, winning with just .10% of 58 starters. This one is 0-for-11 this year, as well. But if you go back to July 27, this one did run a nice second at Ellis Park as the PT favorite. Last three have been awful, but this one plunges from the MSW ranks into the MCL for the first time, and gets a rider who should catch fire sometime very soon. Underneath only for me. Fun Sucker (7) may add a little punch to the exotics here, what with a 10-1 ML odds posted. I like the drop in class back to a level where she has run well before and this veteran trainer definitely knows how to spot them. I bet the 5 to win/place/show and then key the 5 over/nder the 9-7-11-8. I will key over the 4-6-12. While I am going to single in my bets, I don’t key at this price level in the horizontals. 

2nd: 5-3-1/4-6…Faith Healer (5) will be a focal point of my betting in this event. The 4YO Colonel John filly is coming off a third in the slop at Churchill Downs on Sept. 23. That was her first race in nearly a year. Ran well to be third, and if that exercise helps her any at all, then she could be solid in this event today. May take another race to razor sharp, but I will give her a shot in this group. Maho Bay (3) ran really well at Saratoga two starts back for a red-hot trainer up at “The Spa.” Was the odds-on choice last time out and simply didn’t seem to fire. Trainer hits with .25% of those returning as the beaten choice of the bettors. Love the work here on Oct. 6. Looks like the one to beat, for sure. Criminal Mischief (1) ran huge last time out at Churchill Downs. Nipped our top choice in that one. In 12 lifetime starts, she has a 2-1-2 mark. But it doesn’t seem like this one ever puts two good ones together in a row. That is my point of concern. Still, all in all, I use. I bet the 5-3 across the board and then box the top 3 numbers in one exacta. I will key the 5-3 over the 1-4-6 in a smaller version.

3rd: 8/3-4-7/6-5…My best horse in this race is Bobby the Brain (8). Hard to single at this level, but this one comes from the barn of one of the hottest trainers in the country right now, and he is dropping significantly in class for this tilt. Last time he saw these kind of horses, he won easily at the Fair Grounds in February. Claimed that day by the current barn operation. Super nice work back on Aug. 28. Look for improvement in this spot. I bet the 8 to win/place/show and then key the 8 over/under the 3-4-7. I will key the 8 over (only) the 6-5 in a smaller version.

4th: 10-3-9/1-2-4-12/6-11…A MSW event over the grass, and it sure seems to be a wide open affair. I will key a slight edge to Coexistence (10), another from the barn of Joe Sharp. This one has posted 3 seconds in the first 4 races, and has faced some good ones. Should be plenty fit enough, having run 15/16ths last time out at KY Downs. Another second in that effort. Dam of this one has not thrown a turf winner yet, but this one is honing in on that right. If she doesn’t “Hang” late today, I look for the winner’s circle. Cured by Kitten (3) ran super on the first out at Churchill Downs on Sept. 15. Trainer normally does not have them fully cranked for the initial start, either, and does much better with the second. Love the works since the race, and gets a top rider up. Look out for this one today. Morelikelythannot (9) should get the majority of the betting dollars by PT. this one is very well bred and trained by grass expert Chad Brown. Has not run since December of last year, though, and the works are just OK. Top rider in the land gets the irons, and this one will have to be held off in the late going. Can’t dismiss totally. I bet the 10-3 across the board and then box the top 3 numbers in the exacta.

5th: 5-10/6-3-7…A tough one right here. May just hit the “all button” in the horizontal plays (Pick 3/4/5). It’s either that, or I will single on Bill’s Mafia (5). This one shifts to a new barn for the first time today after running a near-win race at Woodbine back in August. That was over the “all weather”track in Canada, and now will face much tougher. But the trainer hits with .42% of those moving up in class a notch, and this one was supported at the windows on debut. Show horse in that first race has come back to win. My pick. Majestic Hero (10) drops from the MSW ranks into the MCL group for the first time. Trainer hits with .22% of those making this downward move. Should appreciate the class relief, after trying a couple of real good ones in Nitrous and Cairo Cat. Gets the blinkers for the first time today, and the barn hits with .18% of those getting the new equipment. I bet the 5 to win/place/show and then box the 5-10 solidly in one exacta. I will key the 5-10 over/under the 6-3-7 in another smaller version.

6th: 3-9-4/7-2…Love Shack Baby (3) will get a slight edge in this one for me. The 3YO Shackleford filly won over the artificial dirt at Arlington back in June and has fallen from grace since then. But she plummets into the claiming ranks today, and the trainer hits with .20% of those kind. Also, he hits with .26% of those switching from all weather to dirt. Like the work here on Oct. 4 for a barn that loves to train them fast. Rider is winless this meet. Hmmm. Jukebox Money (9) is another shipper from Chicago, and another transitioning from the turf to the dirt. This barn is 0-for-7 with these surface switchers this year. But this one did run second on the AW just two races back. Like the fact that the barn hits with .25% of those returning to the races as the beaten favorite. Don’t Stop Maria (4) is moving up in class, but this barn does well with all kinds. In the last 4 horses to jump up this much, the barn has 2 wins. Seemed to like the dirt at Churchill Downs last time out and was bothered in the start of that one, too. Don’t dismiss this one. I bet the 3-4 across the board and then box the top 3 numbers in the exacta.

7th: 7/8-10/4-1/9-3…This is a tougher race, for sure, but I truly love Bridaled Temper (7) in this spot. this one ran second as the favorite in the last two outs, but had traffic issues when rolling late in both of those tries. Video to me shows that she could have won either one of those with a cleaner trip. Top jock gets back up today, and if he can steer this one clear in the late going, I think she could be a tough one at the wire. The second and third choices of mine are no slouches, though. Deadline (8) ran a nice second in a Stakes at Indy Grand three back and had issues going way wide in the Graded Stakes event two back. Last time out, her luck got even worse. Bobbled at the start of that one and dumped the rider. Due some good luck, if she gets it — she will be rolling late, as well. Perfect Pitch (10) broke the maiden last time out down at KY Downs, and those horses have performed very well at KEE this meet. Gets a new jock in the saddle, but it happens to be the leading rider of the meet. Trainer scores with nearly .30% when facing winners for the first time. Love the work at Saratoga on Sept. 29. Could be the one to beat. “Z” pattern working on this one, too. (Showed speed in the first and closed in the last. Love a nice “Z” pattern.) I bet the 7-10 across the board and then box the top 3 numbers in the exacta. I will key the 7-10 over/under the 8-4-1, and then key over (only) the 9-3.

8th: 2-4-3/5-1-11/7-8…What a nice race right here that KEE Racing Secretary Ben Huffman has carded. Several of these are coming out of Graded Stakes events. I will go with Meade (2), who hails from a red-hot barn. These connections won three on Sunday and had another on Wednesday’s card. This son of Street Sense was right in contention in the G2 Saratoga Special until tiring late. Will stretch out for the first time today for a barn that hits with .27% of those routing for the first time. Nice work here on Oct. 4, and gets a top rider up. Dam of this one is a SW, too, and this one should absolutely relish the extra ground. Pole Setter (4) is a beautiful roan colt by Take Charge Indy. This one was very impressive in the G3 Iroquois and ran his eyes out when switching to the dirt for the first time. Tried late when getting the blinkers for the first time, but he should benefit from that run. My co-fav for this race. Manny Was (3) is one that has been touted all Summer, after breaking the maiden at Arlington Park and running a game third to Tobacco Road in the Ellis Park Juvenile. Fell apart late in the G3 Iroquois, but that was first time at two turns. Trainer hits with .22% of those making the route for the second time. Watch out. I bet the 2-4 across the board and then box the top 3 numbers in the exacta.

9th: 10-9/1-2-3-11/5-15-7…I’m going with my Upset Special in today’s feature — Heaven Is Waiting (10). This one has been scratched off the sod in both races this year for new trainer Mike Maker. Last year, under the tutelage of Chad Brown, this one raced 4 times on the grass and had a win and a nose beat here at Keeneland. If this 4YO gelding can catch the grass again, he may move way up and out-run those 8-1 ML odds. Gets Jose Ortiz in the saddle, too. Not bad. Fred’stwirlincandy (9) is the horse to beat, in my mind and on the racetrack, too. He is coming off a 6th place finish in the Dueling Grounds Derby, but that was against some talented 3YOs. He has faced older before and ran well in each. In 6 starts over the grass to date, he has a 1-2-2 record. Gets a huge rider switch today. Thunder Mesa (1) is Maker’s other horse in here, and if Tempestad (2) is ready off the 14 month layoff, they both figure to have a shot in here, as well. The former is a deep closer and could make a run of things late. I bet the 10-9 across the board and then box those 2 in the exacta. I will key the 10-9 over the 1-2-3-11 in a smaller version.

10th: 2/6-7-10-5/9-13/1-3-8…I will key Union Bowman (2) in today’s finale. this one was bet down to near even-money in the last out and looked to be running well on his way to a win when the rein broke and he lost all action and the rider lost all ability to steer. Obviously, had no chance after that. Take note that this one had hit the board in the four previous races, with three wins in that mix. Gets back to the circle for me at some decent odds — maybe. I bet the 2 to win/place/show and then key the 2 over/under the 6-7-10-5. I key the 2 over the rest of the numbers in a smaller version.

Good Luck & All the Best…

As for Wednesday…Here’s a report:

Didn’t have many winners on the racetrack Wednesday, but it may have been one of my most favorite days at Keeneland.

As in?

How about, oh, let’s see…


(Our Group at Keeneland on Wednesday / Photo Courtesy of our great server — Jasimine)

Besides my lovely wife, Leigh Ann, I was joined in the Phoenix Room, the Paddock, the Saddling Area and at the the Thoroughbred Club of America by such great friends as Mike and Vicki Russell; Mike and Laura Schnell; and Tim and LeAnna Brown. We told a lot of stories. (Some of which may of had a vein of truth laden within.) We laughed. Out loud and uncontrolled. We talk. Sometimes over each other. And, we had a blast.

And, my friends, that is what Keeneland is all about.


We also got to go down to the saddling area and chat with jockey Robby Albarado; trainer Dale Romans and Tammy Fox; owner Bret Jones, and his little son; and Gov. Brereton C. Jones.

(Dak Attack in the Keeneland saddling area / Photos by Gene McLean)

And, we got to see one of my most favorite younger horses — Dak Attack — make his first return to the races in nearly 9 months. And, he came within a whisker of winning. Would have done us all a bit of good to see him win, but it was great to see him run, again.

Fantastic Day.


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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