McLean’s Selections for Keeneland on Thursday, Oct. 17

Day Results8-1-2-3
2019 Overall 1,1041,104/392-387-504
Win % of Top Pick35.51%
Payoff % of Top 3 Picks Overall38.74%
2019 Top Pick in the Money –740 of 1,10467.29%
Top Selection ITM / KEE 49-8656.98%
Top Selection Win / KEE 25-8629.07%
“Key Horses” @ KEE 9-1-0-111.11%
“Key Horses” in 2019 183-71-35-2238.80%

One meager winner on Wednesday at the ole’ ball yard –Keeneland. One.

If you take out Opening Saturday, when we were ZERO-for-11, and Wednesday, when we picked ONE-for-8, our numbers this meet aren’t so bad. We would be 24-for-67 — which computes to a win percentage of over 35.82%.

But, instead, we are winning at a sub-par 29.07% for this Fall’s meet.

Pretty place.

Pretty weather.

Ugly numbers.

So far.

Thursday is an interesting day and an intriguing card. Some interest here. Here’s our closer examination:

Race 1: 1-11-7/8-12-9/6-(16)-3/2-5…Da Gold Room (1) will break from the rail in this 11/16-mile event over the sod. And, although this one is void of any noticeable speed, the rider has been hot of late, winning 3 of 10 in the last week. And, he is both clever and good. He will have to carve out a running hole late to make a big move — like he did in the last outing, when he drove between horses to just miss at the finish line. This one is bred on both top and bottom for the grass. Barn hits with .14% of those getting the Lasix for the second time. Mr Matuschek (11) leaves little doubt to the strategy department. This 2YO son of More Than Ready — who pushed the game from gate to near the wire in the debut run at KY Downs on Sept. 5 — has speed to burn and the rider is most likely to use it early and often. The blinkers come off today, and the barn hits with .22% of those losing the shades. Barn also scores with .23% of those making the second career race. Logical. Achievable (7) ran well throughout the early part of his debut race on Sept. 14 at Churchill Downs. Spit the bit late in that one, but gets the best grass rider around to take the mount today and the works appear to be strong since the first race. May have needed that one for conditioning. I bet the 1-7 across the board and then box the top 3 numbers in the exacta. I will key the top 3 numbers over (only) the 8-12-9-6-3.

Race 2: 4-6-3-5…Hilltop Harmony (4) gets the nod in this claiming event for the fillies and mares. This 3YO daughter of Violence has been facing older ones for quite some time now, and has both a win and a second in just 4 starts. Broke the maiden last time out when running for the $16,000 tag. Now, moves up to face winners for the first time. The barn hits with .15% of those making the advancement in class. Gets an aggressive rider to take the reins. Maybe? Sistas Ready (6) appears to be the horse to beat. This 4YO More Than Ready filly could be worth the $20,000 price tag in here. She ran third for $30,000 three starts back. Goes from turf to dirt, and the barn hits with .17% of those kind. Drops way down the class order to a career low benchmark here. Gets a new rider for the first time, and he has been a bit on the cold side. Out of the first 34 rides here this meet, Miguel Mena has only 1 win and 1 second. Chilly? Daring (3) is the 8-5 ML favorite. Figures. But she is coming out of a $10,000 MCL victory at Churchill Downs. That was a huge drop down for the win. Inches back up and faces winners for the first time. Vunerable? Not a lot of great choices here, but I will give the edge to the 4. I will bet that mare across the board and then key the 4 over/under the “all button.”

Race 3: 6/4-5/2-1-3…The first Key Play of the Day comes here with Snap Hook (6), who will break from the far outsider of this compact field. This 4YO gelded son of Flower Alley ran third last time out over the slop at Saratoga. Hit the gate in the start of that one, and it great compromised this speed, front-end type. With a clean break today, Corey Lanerie may be able to spot in early on and make a short run into the first turn of this 11/16-mile event. In 10 lifetime starts, to date, this one has a 2-2-2 record. Has a win at this distance in only try at this trip. I bet the 6 to win/place and then key the 6 over/under the numbers used in our sequence.

Race 4: 2-11-(13)/7-10-(14)/(15)-8-1-9-12/5-4-3…This turf event will be contested at the 11/16-mile, two turn distance. I love Law of the Land (2) in this spot. This 2YO son of Constitution ran a super race when going a flat mile at Laurel Park on Sept. 29. Rallied from near last in that one to lose by less than 1/2-length. That’s a serious run. Now, this one will be treated with Lasix for the first time, and the barn hits with .27% of those. Gets the HOF rider Javier Castellano up, as well. Contender. Aficionado (11) comes into this one of a 1-length loss to Kid Mercury. This one closed well late to make a real race of it in that 1-mile grass cutter. The barn hits with .40% of those making the 2nd career turf race. Could be a tough out here. If Cardiac Kidd (13) gets in here, I land on him. Ran 2nd last time out, when this one actually made the lead in the stretch. Top rider sticks for the gig today. I bet the 2-(13) across the board and key the 2-13 over/under the 11-7-10-8-1-9-12 in two more lesser versions.

Race 5: 6-7/3-4/2-1…This is a 6-furlong sprint test for the 2YO fillies, and I will go with Persian Queen (6). She drops back into the Starter Allowance ranks after two tries against Much-Much tougher. Work on Oct. 10 was outstanding, and the barn hits with .14% of those shipping in for the event. Gets a solid rider to take the assignment. Watch out. Pick Up the Fone (7)  will be making the first start for a new barn operation, whom claimed this one for a testy $40,000 in the last outing. In 4 lifetime starts to date, this one has a win and 2 seconds. Returns today as a beaten favorite, and the barn hits with .23% of them, too. Shorter distance should not hurt, and the rider is 3-2-2 in the last 12 starts here. I bet the 6-7 across the board and then box those 2 in the exacta. I will key the 6-7 over/under the rest of the numbers in two smaller versions.

Race 6: 3-1-9/5-8-(1A)-7/6-11-4-2…This is a 1-mile turf event and I will give the edge to Winning Envelope (3). This 3YO daughter of More Than Ready closed nicely to finish third to Winter Sunset in the Stakes event at Indy Grand last time out. Before that, this one faced Cafe Americano in the G3 Pucker Up at Arlington Park. Before that? Ran a very nice 3rd in another Stakes. Ran just 11/2 lengths behind Concrete Rose in March of this year. That’s solid. Very solid. La Signare (1) will get the saddle for the first time with a new barn operator. Trainer hits with .28% of those making the first start for the new connections. Works have been super of late, and a new rider gets the assignment. Has been off since March, but the new barn hits with .18% of those away this long. Look for this one to push the pace early and has a win in 3 tries at this distance. Second in only previous run here, too. Our Bay B Ruth (9) could be a nice surprise at a good price, if the 3YO Candy Ride filly can step it up today. Has won 2 in a row and has hit the board in each of the last 6 races. Has 2 wins and 2 seconds in 4 tries at this distance. Love the work on Oct. 9. Looks poised for a big one. I bet the 3-1 across the board and then box the top 3 numbers in the exacta. I will key the 3-1 over (only) the 5-8-7-6-11-4-2 in a smaller version.

Race 7: 7-6-4/1-5-3…Complexifier (7) will be stepping up to face winners for the first time after a nice and powerful win at Churchill Downs on Sept. 20. Barn hits with .15% with those stepping up in class to face winners for the first time. Since getting the Lasix two starts back, this one has been really good. Lost to Tap It to Win It two back. That one was one of the favorites for the G1 Claiborne Breeders’ Futurity earlier this meet. Look for this one to be a tough out here. Letsstaypositive (6) broke the maiden in April for Wesley Ward by over 4 lengths. Has not been out since then. But has been training very well for the return today. Made the odds-on favorite in the debut run. Watch the odds board early to see if he is “live” again today. May be an indicator. Long Weekend (4) ran in the G2 Saratoga Special last time out for trainer Tom Amoss. Pushed the pace in that one before giving way late to a good one in Green Light Go. Returns today off a great, great work at KEE on Oct. 6. Looks sharp. I bet the 7-4 across the board and then box the top 3 numbers in the exacta. I will then key the 7-4 over/under the 6-1-5-3 in two smaller versions.

Race 8: 5/4-6-7-8/2-9/3-10…G3 Sycamore Stakes…This is a 11/2-mile marathon over the grass, and be sure to know not to start cheering the first time they run into the stretch and head for the finish line. They have to go around again. Rookie mistake. When the make the second turn into the stretch, you can cheer. And, you probably can cheer on our Key Play of the Day — Focus Group (5). This 5YO son of Kitten’s Joy has a win over this sod. He has 2 wins and 2 thirds in this long-distance marathon. And, he is coming off a huge effort in the G1 Northern Dancer at Woodbine on Sept. 14. Was pinched back at the start of that one, too. In 5 starts this year, has only one win. But…All 5 races have been either G1 or G2 Stakes. This group should be a bit easier to handle. Love the work here on Oct. 5. My pick. I bet the 5 to win/place and then key the 5 over/under all the numbers listed above in the exacta.

Race 9: 8-2-3/9/6-7-(15)-1/11…The final race of the day is a MCL event for $30,000 and the 2YO fillies. I will go outside and give the nod to Heroic Officer (8), who hails from the barn of trainer Ian Wilkes. This one ran fourth at this level last time out, but had a tough rail trip throughout that one when breaking from the rail for the first time. This gal should relish the fact that she can now break from the outside — for the first time — and stalk the inside runners. Rider is one of the best. Look for a huge jump up in effort today. Poseidon’s Passion (2) drops another notch in the claiming game today. Ran 4th against tougher last time out. Barn hits with .37% of those returning as a beaten favorite, as well. Could improve with the cut-back in distance to the Sprint distance of 6 furlongs, too. Last one pushed her too far, perhaps. Sweet Cocoa (3) could spice up the odds rack a bit. Will be dropping into the MCL ranks for the first time. Barn hits with .21% of those. Sharp work here on Oct. 10. Has been facing tougher types. I bet the 8-3 across the board and then box the top 3 numbers in the exacta. I will key the top 3 over/under the 9 in two smaller versions.

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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