McLean’s Selections for Keeneland on Thursday, Oct. 18

Day Results8-2-0-6
2018 Overall 1537569-559-674
Win % of Top Pick37.02%
Payoff % of Top 3 Picks Overall39.08%
Top Selection ITM / KEE: 55-8663.95%
Top Selection Win / KEE 30-8634.88%
“Key Horses”: 7-3-1 in 13 races53.85%

Rough day at the Keeneland corral on Wednesday, but we kind of expected it going into one of the toughest cards in the meet to handicap. Very well balanced fields, with really few standouts that popped on paper for us. We did manage to scratch out a couple of victories, including the last race — which is akin to hitting a great golf shot on the last hole:

Keeps you coming back for more.

So, here is a look at today’s card:

1st: 3-4-6/2-5-7…Yankton (3) gets a slight edge in this first event of the day. The 3YO son of Colonel John will be converting back to dirt today after two tries on the sod. In the first 7 tries, he has 2 seconds and 3 thirds. Ran OK here on the slop back in April, but gets a top rider in the saddle. Believeinholidays (4) is another who is switching back to the dirt, and this trainer hits with .12% of those. If you throw the trip over the hills and dales, which he obviously didn’t prefer, the three previous were all pretty solid. In 8 previous tries, he has 2 seconds and 2 thirds. Stuart Hall (6) is a first time gelding for a barn that has been a little bit chilly all year. Has faced some good ones in the past and goes for a career low price today. New rider gets up today, but has been very cold this meet. I bet the 3 to win/place/show and then box the top 3. I tread lightly here.

2nd: 4-7/5-6-3-1…I will concentrate on the top two numbers in this group, led by Hubbadahubbadaboom (4). This 3YO son of Shanghai Bobby ran poorly last time out up at Saratoga, when he was wide and ducked out at the 1/8th pole. In short, something serious happened in that one. If you go back two races, he nearly won at Ellis Park and then won four back. Training well, too. Like the return of the rider. Match Play (7) drops a notch off a nice win. Has been very handy in the last two, and looks good right now. Trainer hits with .29% with claimer repeaters, and .21% of those that won the last race. I will play the 4-7 across the board and then box those two solidly in one exacta. I will key the 4-7 over the others in a smaller number.

3rd: 7-8-6/3-4-5/2-1…Gingermore (7) was claimed last time out off an impressive closing rush at Churchill Downs. Moves up in class today, but ran well here in the Spring at this level. Trainer does well with those moving up in class, winning at .14%. Has a win in two tries at this distance. Katie the Cutie (8) is another who won the last time out, running off to an easy and impressive victory at Belterra. Picks up one of the meet’s top riders today. Does not have a win in 5 tries at this distance, but does have 2 seconds and a third. Majestic Kindness (6) goes for a HOF trainer, but the barn has won only .05% of 172 races this year. This one has run well in three of the lat four tries, and all those were against better than she’s facing today. . She had a win in the slop at Belmont Park three back and was third last time. Has a win in 7 tries at this distance, but 0-for-2 here. Tread lightly. But, I bet the 7 to win/place/show and box the top 3 in the exacta.

4th: 6-1-8-7/3-2-4-9…A wide open event here, and I will use the top 4 numbers in the horizontal plays. I will give a slight edge to Philanthropic (6) in this spot. The 2YO Malibu Moon filly ran an impressive second after walking out of the gate in the only previous start. Came light a lightning bolt late in that one, and gets Jose Ortiz in the saddle today. That’s a new combo for this barn, but one that should work just fine. Love the work on Oct. 7. Looks primed. Rumandice (1) has two seconds in her only two previous starts, and was really close in the inaugural run at Churchill in late June. Was a bit wide in the last try, and should benefit from that run. Trainer hits with .18% of those returning for the second time after a layup. Gold Credit (8) and Gladiola (7) both figure to have a real shot in here, too. The former is a first timer for a barn that hits with .13% on debut. Love the work pattern here, and the rider choice. The latter is a first timer for the barn of Brad Cox, who is starting to heat up again after a cool start to this meet. The Dam has 2 winners from 7 starters and 1 Stakes winner. Super sharp work here on Oct. 7. Don’t be surprised. I bet the 6-1 across the board and then box those two solidly in one exacta. I will definitely key the 6-1 over/under the 8-7 in another two.

5th: 1-5/6-4-10-8/3-9…I will focus on the top two numbers here, led by Souper Wish (1). This 4YO son of Speightstown has not raced this year and has only two previous trips to the gate in his career. Ran super in the first out, losing by a neck and was fourth in the only other effort. Heavily favored in both of those tries. Now, will return from a 17-month layoff. Wow. But I love this one here, and the works are super good for a horse named Super. Love the 5-1 ML odds, and my first Best Bet of the Day. Laser Loop (5) comes from the barn of Rusty Arnold. This one has not run since tiring in a 7-furlong event here this Spring. Barn hits with .10% of those returning from this long of a layup. Works are OK, but the barn normally takes its’ time on these kind. The winner of the last race, though, was Mr. Freeze, and he has gone on to become a Graded Stakes winner — including a triumph in the West Virginia Derby. Take note. I bet the 1 to win/place/show and then box the 1-5 in one exacta. I key the 1 over/under the 6-4-10-8 and then key the 1 over (only) the 3-9.

6th: 6/7-8-3/12-10-4-5-9…This is my first “key” horse in two days, and although I love this one’s chances in this spot, this filly will be making a return over a considerable layoff, as well. Still, in 4 tries over the turf to date, she has a win and a third. Ran third in a Stakes event at Gulfstream Park in the last out, which was at Gulfstream in January. But the recent work pattern is solid, if not strong and she did win on debut and won again off another layup. Looks to like running fresh. Goes for a red hot barn that was a 6-2-1 record in just 15 mounts this meet. That’s a spectacular win rate of .40% this meet. Gets a top rider up, as well. My solid pick in here. I bet the 6 to win/place/show and then key the 6 over/under the 7-8-3 in the exactas. I will key the 6 over the rest in a smaller version.

7th: 7-5-2/8-6-1/4-3…Eres Tu (7) is a 2YO Malibu Moon filly, who will be making her career debut for the Steve Asmussen barn in this spot today. Works have been spectacular in the a.m. and the dam of this one has 2 winners from 3 previous starters and — get this — 2 Stakes winners already. The barn hits with .17% on first starters, and the trainer’s go-to rider gets the assignment. They have hit with .17% of the last 96 races together. Winandyourin Gin (5) has more experience, with two previous races under the girth. Ran a nice third on debut at Saratoga this July, but faltered in the next out. Work here in September was off the charts, and this one does have the breeding and the speed to be a factor in here, if she can figure it out. Sense of War (2) has raced twice on the grass before today. Now, she switches to the dirt for the first time. The barn has not had a winner in two tries doing that, but the trainer does hit with .33% of those getting blinkers for the first time. Should be fit for this one, and gets a top rider up. I bet the 7 to win/place/show and then box the top 3 in one exacta. I will key the 7 over/under the 8-6-1 in two more.

8th: 5-3-4/6-11-12/2-8-9/10…G3 Sycamore Stakes…A wide open Graded Stakes event on the grass is today’s feature. And, what a field of horses have been assembled by Racing Secretary Ben Huffman and his fine team in the racing office. Arklow (5) is a multiple Graded Stakes winner and comes into this one off two straight wins — inclined an impressive performance in the 11/2-mile KY Turf Cup at KY Downs in the last out. Rallied from well back to nail some nice ones — including Bigger Picture (6) in that one. Arklow is super good right now and goes for a trainer who has won .28% of the 729 races he has entered this year. Super year. Campaign (3) is 20-1 in the ML, but this 3YO son of Curlin will get some of my money today. This one won two races in a week on Sept. 1 and Sept. 8 for the barn of Steve Asmussen, and was super impressive with his closing kick in both of those efforts. Started out the career in the Chad Brown barn, but was switched this year to Asmussen. Another great transformation project, and this one has a late kick that is something to behold. My Upset Special in here today. Oscar Nominated (4) didn’t fire last time out, but this 5YO son of Kitten’s Joy has won over $1.5 million in purses and has a win and a second in five starts this year. Has a second in one start over this grass previously. Can’t dismiss. I bet the 5-3 across the board and then box the top 3 in one exacta. I will key the 5-3 over/under the 4-6-11-12 in two more. And, I will key the 5-3 over the 2-8-9-10 in a smaller version.

9th: 5-1/8-10-7/3-6-4-9-11…Unmatchable (5) is another from the barn of Steve Asmussen that I will play today. This 3YO Uncle Mo colt will be making the career debut in this spot, but the sire hits with .16% with first timer starters and the dam of this one has a winner in two starters. Breeding is there. The works are too. Solid and spectacular in the a.m. I think this one is sitting on go. Chaps (1) ran third on debut at Gulfstream Park in February. Has been off since. But this son of More Than Ready is working very well for the return to the party for a barn that hits with .22% of those making the second career start and with .13% of those coming off the bench. Love the work here on Oct. 13. If he can flash that kind of speed today? Watch out. Rail is tough at this distance, but he has speed to burn. I bet the 5-1 across the board and then box those two solidly in the exacta. I will key the 5-1 over/under the 8-10-7 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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