McLean’s Selections for Keeneland on Wednesday, Oct. 16

Day Results9-4-2-3
2019 Overall 1,0961,096/391-385-501
Win % of Top Pick35.68%
Payoff % of Top 3 Picks Overall38.84%
2019 Top Pick in the Money –735 of 1,09667.06%
Top Selection ITM / KEE 44-7856.41%
Top Selection Win / KEE 24-7830.77%
“Key Horses” @ KEE 9-1-0-111.11%
“Key Horses” in 2019 183-71-35-2238.80%

It is on to Week 3 of the Keeneland Fall Race Meet, and the leaves are turning a toasty brown and the temps are turning a chilly pop to the mornings. We are turning it on. Or, at the very least, hoping to, any ways.

We finished the last week with a bit of sizzle and flash, hitting a nice Pick 5 on Saturday, and a whirlwind 20-1 winner and exacta on the closing race Sunday. Now, we hope to continue to inch our way back to respectability in the handicapping field of study and gallop full bore into a few more nice payoffs.

Here’s a look at Wednesday’s card at the great Lexington oval:

Race 1: 2-7-8/6-5-1…Bella Kristina (2) drops to the bargain bin for this affair, that will be contested at the 2-turn, 1-mile distance over the main track. Ran at this level two back, when traveling over the sod down at the “Pea Patch” of Ellis Park. Was beaten a neck that day, in a tough beat. Moved up last time out to face much tougher and stayed right in the mix until the bitter end. Faltered late while going an extra 1/16th of a mile in that one. Now, gets back to a distance that she appears to enjoy much more. Has a 2-2-0 record in 5 starts at this distance. In the only start over fast dirt, she is 0-for-1, but that came in the last out. Ran well enough in that one to give some encouragement today. Gets a heady rider in the saddle. My choice. Caspers Run (7) is certainly time appropriate, since Halloween is just a couple of weeks away. This 3YO daughter of Girolamo ran against our top pick in that one. While the top choice was 4th that day, this one ran 7th. Not a threat in that one. But does has a win at the distance and a win over fast dirt. I can toss the last one, when she was treated with Lasix for the first time. Gets a vet rider who def knows his way around the track and the path to the winner’s circle. Loran Holiday (8) has run three straight 6th place finishes. All those were against much tougher, though. Gets the drop to a career low level for this one, and should appreciate the class relief. Interesting rider choice, to be sure. And, she has never won in 5 starts at this distance. She’s Alotta Woman (6) looks to be out-classed here, but don’t dismiss totally. A chance with 8-1 odds. I bet the 2 to win/place/show and then key the 2 over/under all the numbers listed.

Race 2: 6-1-5/4/2-3…December Seven (6) spit the bit late in the last affair, when it appeared she was on cruise control and headed for the finish line. But that was the 2nd start off a layup, and the barn does hit with .16% of those making the 3rd start after a freshening. The biggest difference today, though, is that this 6YO gelded son of Street Sense is dropping into the claiming ranks for the first time. Barn hits with .13% of those kind, and with .21% in the claiming ranks, overall. Love the work on Oct. 9 and this rider switch. Has been facing some good ones in the past — like Retirement Fund three back. My solid pick. Colour Guard (1) goes for a trainer that many people don’t know a lot about. He’s stationed out at the Thoroughbred Center in Lexington, and keeps a low profile. His horses, though, run. In 4 starts this meet, the barn has a win and a second. And, this 4YO son of Archarcharch is coming off a third at Colonial, where he was a beaten favorite. Barn hits with .36% of those returning to the races for the first time. Has a win over this strip. Should like the class relief. And, gets a top jock. Beware. California Night (5) drops into the claiming ranks after running in a tough-butt Stakes outing two starts ago. Last two have been tough, but before those outings, this one had hit the board in 4 of the previous 5 tries — with 3 wins. Work at Belmont Park on Oct. 4 was really nice. I bet the 6-1 across the board and then box the top 3 in one exacta. I will key the 6-1 over/under the 5-4-2-3 in two smaller ones.

Race 3: 6-8/5-9/7-2-3…Lucy’s Town (6) could give us back-to-back “6s” on top. This 5YO Northern Afleet mare ran 4th last time out at Churchill Downs, when facing tougher. That was the first time she has missed the board in the last 7 races. She had 5 wins in that mix, as well. Trainer is hitting with .29% of the 79 starters this year. Gets a solid rider to take the reins. Will be pushing the pace from the start. C P Quality (8) snares the regular rider away from Lucy’s Town, our top pick, to take the reins here. Lanerie rode his one to victory last time out, when traveling there oval circuit at Ellis Park. Ran away as the PT favorite in that spot. Drops off the win today for a barn that wins .21% of the time in the claiming ranks. Jock has teamed up to win 4 of 10 for this barn in the last 60 days. Nice work on Sept. 28. Ready. I bet the 6-8 across the board and then box those 2 in the exacta. I will key the 6-8 over (only) the rest of the numbers in a smaller version.

Race 4: 7-1-11/5-6-(16)/8-4-(14)…This is a MCL event for a price tag of $30,000. The 2YOs will travel 6 furlongs over the main track. I will go with Twixy Cat (7), who is dropping out of the MSW level and into the price category for the first time ever. Barn hits with .21% of those making the class plunge. Barn also hits with .21% of those going from a sprint race to a route race and back to a sprint. That happens here today with this one, too. Look at who takes the saddle job. Has won with .22% for this barn over the last 18 rides. Serious upgrade. Visual Artist (1) will be making his second start at this level. Ran very well to be second at Churchill Downs on Sept. 21. Was no match for the salty Dennis’ Moment to start the career, but a lot of horses can lay claim to that distinction. Ran better in the second. And, solid in the third. Rail post is winning at .18% rate at this distance. Chance. Revved (11) could really spice up the odds board with a good run here. Goes for a top young trainer, who hits with .22% of those that debut in the MCL ranks. Gets a top rider to take the reins, and this one has trained OK for the debut, too. Sire hits with .18% with first time starters and the dam of this one has 3 winners from 3 starters. Hard to better that percentage. Jock and trainer have teamed up to go 2-1-0 in the last 6 starts. I can’t leave out. I bet the 7-11 across the board and then box the top 3 in the exacta. I will key the top 3 numbers over/under the 5-6 in two smaller versions.

Race 5: 4-8-10/7-6-2/(14)-(15)/11-12-5-9…The first turf race of the day will be contested at the 11/16-mile, two turn distance. I go with Pass the Plate (4) in this MSW event. This one ran very well, while closing a ton of ground in the debut at KY Downs on Sept. 12. That’s a tough place to make the first career start, but it does help in conditioning. This 2YO Temple City filly now gets Lasix for the first time, and the barn hits with .11% of those. Gets the best grass rider in these parts, and should be coming late. Lost to a  real good one last time out, and the runner-up has already come back to win. Key race. My pick. Edgee Angel (8) ran up against a real good one two starts ago. That one just returned in a Stakes event here over the weekend. This 2YO daughter of Competitive Edge has run very well since converting to the sod, and figures to stalk the pace-setters from the get-go. Solid rider will get his third try at finding the winner’s circle. Luck Money (10) has raced twice for trainer Arnaud Delacour and has a third and a second on the resume. If the progression continues, then she may inch her way up to first here. Barn has 2 wins and a second in 6 starts this meet. Recruits a top grass rider to take the saddle job. Love the work at Fair Hill on Oct. 7. Looks poised. Barn also hits with .26% when they are going a route of ground for the second time. Box. Checked. Look out. I bet the 4-10 across the board and then box the top 3 numbers in the exacta. I will key the top 3 numbers over (only) the 7-6-2 in a smaller version.

Race 6: 6-5-1/11/7-3/2-9-10/4-8-12…Josie (6) may be the best 5-1 ML choice that I have seen in a long time. Those odds are not high enough to be the Upset Special of the Day, but I would love to lock those odds in. This 2YO Race Day filly has raced 4 times, so far. Has a win and 3 seconds on the board. Ran a very game second to Magic Dance, a very talented 2YO runner with a fantastic pedigree, to boot. That one is a half sister to Guarana. Ran second to Wasabi Girl in the last outing. Went wide in that one. Trained like an absolute bear here on Oct. 11. And, on Oct. 5. Looks to be sitting on a huge one. My Key Play of the Day. I will look inside just one stall for the main competition in Blood Curdling (5). This one won on debut by 11 lengths. That is 11. Came back to run in the G2 Pocahontas Stakes, where she ran up against Lazy Daisy. Tired in that one and now cuts back to the sprint distance. Should be sharper at this distance. Misty Blue (1) broke the maiden last time out, when flashing speed right from the gate. Wore the blinkers for the first time in that affair. Seemed to help. Training well since the MSW victory, and the barn hits with .18% of those moving up to face winners for the first time. I bet the 6 to win/place/show and then key the 6 over/under the 5-1-11-7-3 in two smaller versions. I key the 6 over (only) the 2-9-10-4-8-12.

Race 7: 5-6-10/12-4/7-1-3/2-11…The featured event of the card will be a 1-mile contest over the sod, and I will give the edge to Emaraaty (5). This 4YO son of Dubawi is a home-bred for the Shadwell Stable and comes into this one off a 4th place finish in the G2 Bernard Baruch Handicap. Won’t find any of those kind in the competition today, and this one should like a return to more firm ground, as well. Won the US debut two starts ago, closing late. Look for that kind of performance here, if the rider can just stay out of trouble. Just find a clear spot. Just give the horse a chance. Combatant (6) was a Triple Crown contender in 2018 when he was strictly a dirt horse for the barn of Steve Asmussen. The transition to the turf has not been overly successful. To date. After all, he has only a second and a third in 7 tries. But now it appears the connections are serious about this career path. Like the try last time out at KY Downs. Barn hits with .27% of those returning as a beaten favorite. Like the rider choice, too. Mr Dumas (10) has 2 wins and 3 thirds in 5 career starts. Not bad. But the last two have been on the sod and they have rendered a third and a win. Home. Sweet. Home. Barn hits with .23% of those trying to win two in a row. Moves up a tad in the class pattern, but this one looks ready. I bet the 5 to win/place/show and then key the 5 over/under the numbers listed.

Race 8: 9-5-10/6/7-8-1/4…The finale is a $30,000 MCL event for the fillies and mares. I go with Stolen Beauty (9), who comes from the barn of my great friend, my own trainer and one of the world’s best young people — Stephen Lyster. So far this meet, “Stevo” has started two horses. So far, he has two wins. But this one would be even sweeter. Stephen not only trains this horse, but he owns her, as well. He has put more blood, sweat and tears into this filly that anyone could ever imagine. And, of them all, he deserves to win with this filly. And, guess what? She has ability and a ton of speed to boot. Has faltered late in each of the last two, but gets back to 6 furlongs today and back on the main track. Both should help. Look at the early speed she can flash. Look at the recent works. And, look at the new rider. He is a gifted pilot. If they can go the first part in just modest fractions, this gal may be able to run them off their feet. If she can, I will be jumping off mine. Rooting like crazy for this young man. He deserves this one. And, if they can win, I will tell you the “…rest of the story.” I bet the 9 to win/place/show and then key the 9 over/under all the rest of the numbers. I will also box the 9-5-10 in a smaller version.

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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