McLean’s Selections for Keeneland on Wednesday, Oct. 10

Day Results10-5-2-4
2018 Overall 1482552-539-648
Win % of Top Pick37.25%
Payoff % of Top 3 Picks Overall39.11%
Top Selection ITM / KEE: 22-3170.97%
Top Selection Win / KEE 13-2161.90%
“Key Horses”: 5-1-1 in 7 races71.43%

We had a Super Sunday to finish up an All-Star weekend at Keeneland, winning 5 out of the 10 races. We also hit for exactas that returned $23.90, $29.40 for each $1 played. I also had a $2 exacta that returned $55.80. Those were nice.

Also, this meet we have begun tracking our “key” horses. These are horses that we “single,” or “key” on in a race — either vertically, through exactas, or horizontally, through Pick 3s and Pick 4s. Through the first three days of the meet, we have given out 7 “key” horses. Or, “singles.” Of those 7, 5 have won. One has run second — by an inch or two, of first. One has run third. Not bad statistics.

Today, though, is a different story. What a card young Ben Huffman has put together. Wow. Tough as can be. Not a single “single” on the card today for me. A great Stakes event in the 7th race, and the 6th race is as good as any G3 Stakes event I have seen in awhile. It is tough from get to go.

Here’s a look at our selections today:

1st: 5-7/3-6/2-4-1…Mucho Amor (5) will get a slight edge in this spot for me. The 2YO filly is trained by Wesley Ward, and he is winless through the first three days. That is not the norm in these parts, and one should expect him to get off the slide and into the pool soon. This filly has run twice in her career, winning the first out here in April. Was off until Aug. 11, when she returned off a 4-month layup to run a well-beaten fourth in the G2 Adirondack Stakes at Saratoga. That was over a “good” track, and she may prefer a fast one, instead. Has been working well off another short layup again, and should be better fit for this one. Her dam was Stakes placed, and this drop in class should help, as well. Has the speed to be tough. Woven (7) won her last time out at Delaware Park for Michael Stidham. He hits with .16% of those graduating to face winners for the first time. Will pick up the meet’s hottest rider today, and this is a well-bred daughter of Bernardini, owned by Godolphin Stables. Great connections here. Look out. I bet the 5-7 across the board and then box those two in the exacta. I will key the 5-7 over the 3-6 in a smaller version, and over the 2-4-1 in another smaller version, yet.

2nd: 3-5-7/4-2-9/6…A claiming race that is well-balanced is slated next, and I will spread out to focus my betting attention on the top 3 numbers in this grouping. Riff Raff (3) will pick up rider Corey Lanerie today, and he is certainly due to hit he winner’s circle soon. After 16 mounts so far, the Midwest’s top rider is sporting a very un-Corey-like record of 0-1-2. But Lanerie has ridden 20% winners for this barn over the last 60 days, and the trainer just purchased this NY-bred out of a claiming race last time out. The barn hits with .33% of those making the debut after the claim. Should fit with these, despite the move to open company. Nominal Dollars (5) could spice up the odds rack in this one. He is 6-1 ML, and will get a rider shift to Tyler Gaffalione, who is riding very well here. Will get a drop in class, and the trainer hits with .36% of those that have gone from a sprint race, to a route race, and back to a sprint race. This one fits that category today. Watch out here. Prime Issue (7) is the ML favorite by a smidge, and will be dropping in class after an easy win up in Cincinnati the last time out. Did win here with the same rider aboard back in the Spring against much, much tougher. If this 8YO gelding can’t find that form again today, then it is lights out. Grand Candy (4) will get a little of my money in this spot, too. Winds back up with the same connections after the claim last time out must have been voided. That was against much tougher, as well. If right, this one figures here. Interesting. Take note: I will bet the 3-5 across the board and then box the top 3 numbers in one exacta, and then the 5-7-4 in another smaller one.

3rd: 8-9-5/4-3-2/12/1-7-11…If the 13-16-15 draw in, I have to look at those in this mix, as well, in that order. So, in other words, wide open. If they AE horses are scratched, it makes things a bit easier for me. If so, I will go with Midnight Tea Time (8) on top. This 3YO son of Midnight Lute is coming off a near win last time out at Saratoga. That was the first start for the barn after being claimed for $75,000 at The Spa. The barn hits with .21% of those making the second start with the new connections after a purchase. Like the work here on Sept. 29, and in 8 previous starts on the sod? He has 3 seconds and 4 thirds. My pick. Bail Out (9) did not run well at all last time out at Churchill Downs. Was wide in that one and faded in the late going. Could have been a softer sod that he didn’t like, or the outside trip. But this one gets a rider switch to a very hot jock here right now, and a little better early spot could spell a big difference. If he rans back to the race two ago? Tough to beat. Non Regrette (5) is 8-1 in the ML, and is coming off a nice second last time out. In 7 starts so far, he has 3 seconds and a third. So, he’s been around. Ran third to Raging Bull here this Spring. That one has turned into a, well, raging bull. I bet the 8-9 across the board and then box the top 3 numbers in the exacta.

4th: 2-7-5-11/3/4-10-8-12/1-6…Another wide, wide open event. I will go with South of France (2) in this spot, by a tad. This one is dropping in class off a second place finish at Gulfstream Park in August. Competition down in South Florida is a little lax right now, but the trainer is red hot after his performance here on Sunday — when they saddled three winners. This one ran about 6 lengths behind Miss Technicality two back on the grass. That one is for real. My pick. Stealing Sunshine (7) will be making the second career start for a barn that scores with .26% of those kind. Ran OK on debut at Indy Grand, finishing third in a straight MSW event. Drops into a MCL for the first time today, and the barn hits with .24% of those, too. Was bet down to odds-on in the debut run, and should benefit from that experience. Alizee (5) is a first timer for the barn of Wayne Catalano. He hits with .28% of those making the first start in a MCL event. Solid number there. And, this one shows some nice works here in September, too. No monsters to beat in here. I bet the 2-5 across the board and then box the top 3 numbers in the exacta.

5th: 4-6-7/9-10-3/1-2-11…I will focus on the top 3 numbers in this grass event, led by Dancing All Night (4). This daughter of Parading is trained by the HOFer Shug McGaughey, and he will be shifting her over to the grass for the first time today. This one has a win and 4 seconds in the first 7 starts, but since she is out of an El Prado mare — she should love the sod. Like the 4-1 ML odds, and the way she worked over the grass at Belmont on Sept. 23. Take note of that move. Wow time. Princesschope (6) is 8-1 ML odds, but I think will slip down the board by PT. This one ran third in her last start in France back in early June. Since then, has transferred to the States and the barn of Brad Cox. Looks to be training quite nicely for the NA debut, and will get the benefit of Lasix for the first time. Rider has hit for 2 wins and a third in the last five mounts for this barn. Civil Union (7) could be the PT favorite, since she does hail from the barn of Chad Brown; is daughter of the highly respected War Front; and is coming off a nice come-from-behind MSW win in her career debut at Saratoga. Lots of credentials. I bet the 4-7 across the board and then box the top 3 in the exacta.

6th: 2-6-10/5-9-11-12/7-2-1…Yet another well-balanced field in what figures to be another highly competitive event — which by all accounts should be a Graded Stakes event. Seriously folks. This crowd has game. I will give a slight edge to one of my favorites in a long time — Dak Attack (2). After watching him dominate his first two races a year ago, I truly thought this guy was going to be my KY Derby and Triple Crown horse for 2018. The son of Ghostzapper is as talented as they come, and truly looks the part from tip to tail. But after winning the Ellis Park Juvenile in rip-roaring style last year, he sustained a shin injury that has lingered. And, lingered. And, lingered. He did run third in the Mucho Macho Man in his only start this year, but that was back on Jan. 6. Been off for 9 months. Is training lights out for the return, and he can run. But he caught some tough customers for this start back. Still…I love this guy. Noble Commander (6) is another who is attempting a comeback of sorts. He has been idle since run a very game second in the Frederico Tesio Stakes at Laurel on April 21. That was his first time around two turns, and he tired in the late going of that one. Won his first two career starts against Florida-bred only. Has some nice speed to utilize. Fascilitator (10) has never crossed the finish line worse than third in his 5 race career. Was DQ’d and placed 7th in the last start — which was his first turf effort back in March at the Fair Grounds. Has been idle since then, but comes from the barn of Steve Asmussen — who knows how to win off the bench. This guy has shown a lot of ability before, too. And, then there is Bar Harbour (5) — who ran second to the highly-touted Mask and beat Dak Attack in the Mucho Macho Man on Jan. 6. He roared to a quick start as a 2YO and looked like he was on the Triple Crown Trail, too, before running into some difficulties in the Withers Stakes. So…I bet the 2 to win/place/show and then box the top 3 numbers in the exacta. I will key the 2 over/under the 6-10-5-9-11-12, as well.

7th: 3-6-10-9/14-13-7/5-2-4…G2 Jessamine Stakes…A really nice 11/16-mile event over the grass for the 2YO fillies. And…you guessed it. Wide open. I will go with my Upset Special of the Day in here — Speedy Solution (3). This daughter of Real Solution is 10-1 in the ML, but comes from the barn of Wesley Ward — who does very well here, and does very well here with 2YOs. This one won her last race at Saratoga going the same distance as the favorite, and did so closing very impressively despite a tough start and serious bumping incident at the 3/8ths pole. Meet’s top rider stays up, and if she improves at all, she could be very tough in this spot at a nice price. Pakhet (6) is 8-1 ML odds, and is coming off a nice stalking win at Belmont Park in the last out. That was over a yielding turf, and this grass has come up a bit softer this Fall. Could have some give to it again on Wednesday, and this one should feel right at home. Could fit nicely here. Fierce Scarlett (10) comes from the Chad Brown barn and ran off to an easy and impressive win last out at Belmont Park. That was over a yielding track, too. Moravia (9) could be mighty tough in this spot, too. She ran second in a Group 3 event in Ireland in her last start on July 26. Will get Lasix for the first time, too. But the new trainer does not do too well with newbies to his barn — 0-for-19 this year. And, has been a bit chilly with those coming off this type of layup, too — .11% winners in 37 tries. May need one at a short price. Or…could be ready to fire a huge one here. I bet the 3-9 to win/place/show and then box the top 4 numbers in the exacta. I will key the top 4 over/under the 14 in a smaller version. I will then key the top 4 over (only) the 13-7 in a smaller version, too.

8th: 2-3-7/9-8-6-10/11-1…House of Commons (2) may be the closest thing to a “key” bet today, but I am still a bit leery here. This 4YO Hansen gelding is dropping way down in class. The only other time he was in the claiming ranks, he broke the maiden by nearly 7 lengths at Parx — but that was over a year ago. In two starts back this year, he has come up short in each. Trainer hits with .21% of those making the third start off a layup, though. Gets a nice rider switch for this one, and trained well over this track on Oct. 6. If he is better fit today off the last two, he could run away from these. Zip Van Winkle (3) goes for a trainer off to a good start here, with a win and two seconds in 5 starts. This one got a bit tired in the last out, going much farther. But that was way back in May. Trainer hits with .11% of those returning off the bench this long, but hits with .22% of those returning as a beaten favorite. I love the work on Oct. 1. Looks ready for this one. Teletap (7) gets dropped to a career low price tag today. Does not like to win. Witness the 1-for-17 lifetime record. But does like to hit the board. Witness the 3 seconds and 3 thirds. Should be competitive at this level, and would not be surprised if he is bought today. I bet the 2 to win/place/show and then box the top 3 in one exacta. I will key the 2 over/under the 9-8-6-10 in two smaller versions.

Good Luck & All the Best/Gene

He ran a big race again (after winning the Kentucky Downs Juvenile in his last race). This will absolutely set him up for the Breeders’ Cup.”

Mike Maker , Trainer of Henley’s Joy
  • 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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