McLean’s Selections for Keeneland on Wednesday, April 10

Day Results7-2-5-4
2019 Overall 508508/196-192-250
Win % of Top Pick38.58%
Payoff % of Top 3 Picks Overall41.86%
2019 Top Pick in the Money –360 of 50671.15%
Top Selection ITM / KEE 28-3677.78%
Top Selection Win / KEE 16-3644.44%
“Key Horses” @ KEE 6-4-1-166.67% win
“Key Horses” in 2019 113-46-21-1340.71% win
Upset Special of the Day/ KEE 7-2-0-228.57%

It’s time to crank up the second week of the Keeneland Spring Meet. Warmer weather. More blooms on the vine. And, more top shelf racing than any other racing jurisdiction in the world.

Here’s a closer look at today’s card:

1st: 7-6-4/2-3…The first race of the day is a 4.5-furlong sprint for the 2YOs, and the juvenile expert — Wesley Ward — has two in this event. Both of them should get a lot of support at the betting windows, as they have been training in tandem for much of the Spring. I will give the slight edge to Champagne Affair (7), who will get the services of one of Ward’s go-to riders in these “Baby Races” — Julio Garcia. This filly is by the speedball sire Daredevil, and out of a Stakes-winning mare. Barn hits with .31% with those debuting in the MSW ranks. Like the work here on April 9. Looks primed and ready. Alec and Arthur (6), who hails from the barn of John Hancock, gets my second nod. This 2YO colt by Successful Appeal is one who comes from a mare that has produced .38% winners from the 2YOs. Has 11 starters to date, with 9 winners and 3 Stakes winners. This one had a very nice breeze here on April 6, and the sire stamps .16% winners going out the first time. A real threat in here and better odds. Merchants of Cool (4) is another from the barn of Ward. He is already gelded, and has been working right with our top choice most of the time. Don’t be fooled. This one can run, too. I bet the 7 to win/place/show and then box the top 3 numbers in the exacta.

2nd: 3-8-4/1-5…Raison Martini (3) lost by a nose last time out when taking on the $20,000 price tag level. Now, moves up a couple of notches for this try. Will be switching to the dirt for the first time, and the barn scores with .23% of those making this surface switch. Got the blinkers for the first time in the last outing, and that may have helped, along with the class drop. Barn hits with .47% with those moving up a class level. .Coworker (8) drops from a MSW event back into the MCL ranks for this one, going two turns. The new trainer hits with .37% of those making the first start under their tutelage. Likes to push the pace, and gets a heady rider in the saddle for this one. Direct Approach (4) ran well at the $20,000 price tag level back in December at Gulfstream Park. Really struggled since being moved up in class since then, though, and now will get a significant drop back in class. Trainer hits with .25% of those getting the second start after a claim. Gets a nice rider to take the reins today, as well. I bet the 3 to win/place/show and then box the top 3 numbers in the exacta.

3rd: 7-6-2/3/4-11-8-10/1-5-9…The first grass event of the day figures to be a wide-open affair. We will go with Stefanie On Fleek (7) in this spot, for a hot barn here that has 2 wins and 2 seconds in the first 5 starts of the meet. This one closed off a stalking position to break the maiden last time out at GP in a MSW event at 11/8-miles. In 3 starts now, she has a win and a second. Gets a new rider in Luis Saez, but the man can ride, as well. Looks to be the one to beat, for a barn that hits with .19% of those moving up to face winners for the first time. In Charge Annie (6) was claimed last time out, coming off her second straight win. The new barn hits with .12% of those getting the first start for the new connections. Worked a bullet to kick start a real hot streak. Has hit the board in 7 in a row and has 8 top 3 finishes in 9 career starts. Should be close again. Caroline Lois (2) is my first Upset Special. This filly won two starts ack and then after a dismal performance when she was stepped up to Stakes company, she returned to run a very nice third on March 13 at GP. Now, she will be converted to the turf for the first time. Mare does not have a turf winner, but this one could figure in this mix at 8-1 ML odds. I bet the 7-8 across the board and then box the top 3 numbers in one exacta. I will key the top 3 over/under the 3 in two smaller versions.

4th: 5-1-4/9-2/3-8…Duches of Grace (5) is coming off a second in a $40,000 price tag level maiden race at Oaklawn Park last time out. Ran near the lead for much of that one over a muddy track, before tiring late. If she can improve off that first out, then she figures to be tough in this spot. Barn hits with .10% of those making the second career start. Gets a top rider to take the saddle. Miss Hannah (1) will be making her second career start for a barn that excels with these kind — moving up to a .20% rate on the second outing. Ran 4th at this same price level last time out at GP, while going wide into the turn. Trained well before the first start, and should be close here with any improvement. Marie’s Mandate (4) is a first time starter for the barn of Brad Cox, who hits with .19% of those making the career debut in the claiming ranks. Has trained well here since moving up from Louisiana. Gets a top rider to take the controls. Be interesting to see how she fits with this group on debut. I bet the 5 to win/place/show and then box the top 3 numbers in the exacta.

5th: 6/2-4/8-1/3-5/7…The second grass event of the day will be contested at the 1-mile distance, and I will give a clear edge to our first Key Play of the Day — Keep Quite (6). This one previously ran on the East Coast for the barn of Mark Casse. After the 2018 season, though, he was transferred to the barn of Peter Miller in California. He has been born anew. In two races at the advanced allowance-optional claiming level, this 5YO son of Elusive City has a win and a near-miss second over the grass course at Santa Anita. Looks like a different horse. Has been training at San Luis Rey until being transferred to KY. Now, gets the services of Joel Rosario for this tilt. Looks solid. Barn hits with .26% of those returning as a beaten favorite. I bet the 6 to win/place/show and then key the 6 over/under the 2-4-8-1 in the exactas.

6th: 4-6-9/3/1…Hallie’s Hero (4) is a 4YO gelded son of City Zip, and comes in with three straight finishes in the top 3 while racing at a higher level at Turfway Park. Key will be to see if he can transfer that talent to the dirt track. Looks good right now and the works over this track, and been OK. Gets a top rider to take the reins today, and the barn hits with .13% of those dropping into the claiming ranks for the first time, and with .12% of those that are converting from poly to the dirt. Day Dreamer (6) was claimed last time out, and the new barn hits with .30% of those making the first start for the new connections. Gets a huge rider switch for this one, and the barn also hits with .23% of those making the second start off the layup. The one to beat. Trappezoid (9) ran a good fourth last time out against tougher at the Fair Grounds. Barn hits with .18% of those over the last two years, and that includes 814 starters. Like the work on April 2 at Churchill Downs. Would not be surprised to see this one end up in the circle. Side Note: I’ll be rooting like crazy for 30-1 longshot Stayonthegrind (8). I bought this son of Birdstone as a yearling, and raised him; broke him; and got him started in training. Long story, but I sold him before his first start. Hope he runs well. I bet the 4-9 across the board and then box the top 3 in the exacta. 

7th: 4-2-8/7-5/3-6-1…The feature race of the day is a grass event for the older mares, and I will give a strong edge to In the Lee (4), who will be making her 2019 debut today and will be starting for the first time since racing at KY Downs last September. Before that race, when she was 6th, she had hit the board in four straight and 7 of the previous 8. She races well off a layup, too, running second at Aqueduct last year off a 5-month break. Like the recent works down at Payson Park for a HOF trainer. Gets a top rider. If fit? She fits. Cartabianca (2) may be the best in this group, but she has not raced in NA before and not raced period since last November, when she was in France. Will be making her first start for the new barn, and it has a 0-for-9 mark with horses making the U.S. debut. Gets Lasix for the first time, and she has been training lights out here and at Payson Park for a top barn operation. Gets a first rate lawn rider, and is coming into this one off three straight wins. Dynatail (8) won the last time out, but that was here in October. Off since. Barn hits with .17% of those coming off this kind of layup. Luis Saez returns to the saddle and this one does have a win over this course before. I bet the 4 to win/place/show and then box the top 3 numbers in the exacta.

8th: 2-5-8/7-9-1/6-3…The finale is a 6-furlong sprint for the $25,000 claimers, and I will give the slight edge to Parade Blue (2). This one is dropping back into the claiming ranks for the first time since he won by 5 lengths for a $30,000 price tag three starts back. Gets one of the game’s best in the saddle for this one, and the work here on March 31 was solid. Should be pushing the pace from the get-go, and the track has been favoring the speedy types so far this meet. Unbridled Outlaw (5) has 2 seconds in 3 previous runs here, and the barn hits with .22% in the claiming ranks. This one ran super two starts back before trying the Stakes company last time out. That didn’t work out too well, and now he is back in the class level that he won at three races back. Like the work on March 30 at GP. Looks ready and will push the front end pace, as well. Griff (8) could be the true closer in this group, and I like the 6-1 ML odds. Will bet moving back to the dirt after a debacle over the grass last time out. Ran third against Stakes company two back at GP and has a 3-2-1 mark in 11 races at this distance. Could be tough at this level. I bet the 2-8 across the board and then box the top 3 in the exacta.

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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