McLean’s Selections for Keeneland on Wednesday, Oct. 24

Day Results9-5-1-3
2018 Overall 1575584-569-690
Win % of Top Pick37.08%
Payoff % of Top 3 Picks Overall39.01%
Top Selection ITM / KEE: 81-12465.32%
Top Selection Win / KEE 45-12436.29%
“Key Horses”: 9-4-2 in 17 races52.94%

We start the final week of the Keeneland Fall Meet, and what an October it has been. Wonderful races. Wonderful weather. And, what a wonderful venue. Could not ask for more.


You get to take your Mom, 88 years young and still bucking like a yearling, and your Sister, beautiful as ever inside and out, to the races. Which is what I get to do for their October birthdays today.

Celebration is on….

Here is a look at today’s card at Keeneland:

1st: 8-6-2/7-5-3…Shackleford County (8) is a 3YO Shackleford filly trained by Dale Romans, who has an affinity for getting the most out of this sire line. After all, he trained the daddy, too. This one ran well before tiring on debut at Churchill Downs on Sept. 23 in the career debut. That one was over a sloppy track. She has come back to work OK, but the trainer hits with .17% of those making the second career start, and .11% of those dropping into the claiming ranks for the first time. This one should be tough if the first outing aided in the experience and conditioning. Catkins (6) is the 9-5 ML favorite, and figures to be. Has run 8 times previously, with 2 seconds and 3 thirds. Been right there a couple of times for a trainer that scores with .18% of those dropping from MSW ranks into the MCL category. Like the work on Oct. 16, and may improve with a return to the traditional dirt track. Riesling (2) is another with a shot in here. This one ran for $30,000 price tag last time out and finished a game second as the favorite. Was wide in that one, as well. Now, bumps up a couple of class rungs today, but the trainer hits with .25% of those returning to the races as a beaten favorite in 65 previous tries. Works here this Fall are solid. I bet the 8 to win/place/show and then box the top 3 numbers in the exacta.

2nd: 3-5-2/2B-10-1/8-7-6-9-1A…A wide open affair here, but I give a slight edge to Storm Stride (3). This one will be ridden by a jockey who has gone 0-for-25 this meet, and that is highly unlikely. Kid can pony, and I look for him to break that snide any time now. Another daughter of Shackleford, and this one comes out of a race at this same level at Churchill Downs on Sept. 28. Ran third that day, tiring at the end of the 1-mile run. Tough distance for a first timer. Will stretch out a bit farther today, but it could be an easier run. Gets the rail, which has been golden all meet and producing .20% winners. Look for improvement here today, for a trainer that hits with .21% in the Maiden Claiming tries. Royal Angel (5) goes fora trainer who has had a super year, winning .24% in 390 tries. This will be the barn’s first try with this one, after she was shipped over following the Saratoga meet. Will get blinkers for the first time today, and the barn hits with .14% of those getting the shades for the first time. The jockey/trainer have combined for a 3-1-3 record over the last 12 races together. Love the work here on Oct. 20. Looks primed. Sweet Alternative (2) has been out 5 previous times with 3 thirds. Could move up the pecking order a bit today with the drop in class. Can’t dismiss at some really nice odds. I bet the 3-5 across the board and then box the top 3 in one exacta. I will key the top 2 numbers over/under the 2-10-1 in a smaller version.

3rd: 7-4-6-3-1/2-8…A total dart throw here in this 5.5 furlong sprint over the grass. Lots of choices to go with, but I finally settle on Ultima D (7) — who is owned in part by my great friend and the former Speaker of the Kentucky House of Representatives, Gregory D. Stumbo. Good luck today, my good friend. This one was super good as a 2YO. Broke her maiden in a $350,000 Stakes event at KY Downs, after running two nice seconds against the colts. This year has been a bit of a different story. Has not been close since running in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf at Del Mar last November. Looks like she is training better in the a.m. today, so I take a full swing. Trace (4) has only raced over the sod once in her career, but the daughter of Ghostzapper finished a fast-closing third in that one at KY Downs in September. Will need to rev up the motor a little bit earlier today to get there at the end. Sensible Myth (6) gets a hot rider in the saddle for the first time, and will get the benefit of the anti-bleeding medication Lasix, as well. If you go back three races, she was doing well for a top NY-based trainer, who loves to get them ready for the grass. In 9 races to date, she has only 1 win, but has 3 seconds to add to the resume. I bet the 7 to win/place/show and then box the top 3 numbers in one exacta. I will key the 7 over/under the 4-6-3-1-2-8, as well.

4th: 12-2-11/4-6-9/1-7-10-5…Yet another wide open race here, but I will give a slight edge to the far outside in this one. Take Me Home (12) is another one shipping in today for the barn of Timothy Hamm. Like his previous horses, this one has been running in Pennsylvania at Presque Isle. She was beaten just a nose in her first out, and has worked well since arriving at Keeneland. Love the 8-1 ML odds. A shot here. Shesomajestic (2) got off to a horrendous start in her only previous start, and came running at the end to finish second. Was well beaten in that debut run, but if she can learn a bit for the start, she should be tough in this spot. Like the work at Churchill Downs on Oct. 18, as well. Play On (11) is a first timer for the barn of Brad Cox, who is beginning to warm up here this meet after a cool beginning. This one had a super work here on oct. 17, and the dam of this one has produced 5 winners from 5 starters and has 1 Stakes Winner, to boot. Like the 6-1 odds here, too. I bet the 12-11 to win/place/show and then box the top 3 numbers in the exacta.

5th: 6-5-1/11-8-2-10…My nod goes to Halite (6). This 3YO gelded son of Lookin At Lucky was third last time out, and now goes to a new barn and drops down a notch in the rankings. The new barn hits with .15% of those making the debut with the new connections, and this one does have a third over this track surface, as well. Interesting to see if this one improves today. Gettysburg (5) falls to his career low level and price tag today for the barn of Chris Hartman. Pop Quiz: What is this horse’s claim to fame so far in his career? Give up? He was the work mate for the great Gun Runner, when he was in the barn of HOFer Steve Asmussen. This one didn’t fire a lick last time out against much tougher. but he was OK up at Canterbury this summer, and those horses have done well here this week. You have to root for this guy. He’s given all. Blowin Smoke (1) will get a drop in class today, as well, for the barn of Michael Stidham. The barn has only 1 win in 12 starts this meet, but is due. This one will be converting from the sloppy track at Monmouth Park in the last and may prefer a fast dirt surface. We will see. Like the work on Sept. 27 for a trainer that does drill them in the a.m. I bet the 6-5 across the board and then box those two in the exacta. I will key the 6-5 over/under the 1-11-8-2-10 in two smaller versions.

6th: 4-1A-7/1-9-10/(11)-2-3…Sippin Kitten (4) gets a solid nod from me in this spot. This 3YO Kitten’s Joy filly ran a dynamite third in the Dueling Grounds Oaks in the last out. Was last out of the gate and went 5 wide throughout in that one. But made a serious rally before flattening out. If she gets just a little better trip today, from a hot rider, she could loop right on past this group in the last 1/8th. Watch for her. Silver Shaker (1A) has to draw in from the AE List, but if she does, watch out. Has 9 previous races over the grass, and has a 1-3-4 record to show for her efforts. Could be tough in this spot if she can get in. I definitely use. Tamit (7) is a 4YO Irish-bred who ran in the KY Downs Prevue Stakes at Ellis Park in her last out in August. Gotten a fresher since then, but runs very well off the bench for a young trainer off to a very nice start. Caught a very tough field in that last try, and was stuck wide. Gets the meet’s hottest grass rider today. Beware. I bet the 4-1A to win/place/show and then box the top 3 numbers in the exacta.

7th: 1A-2/6-1-5…Today’s feature race is a 7-furlong event over the dirt course, and is full of potentials. I will go strong with Eight Town (1A) in here, though. this 4YO son of Speightstown ran a very game second last time out going 6 furlongs at Belmont Park. Tired late in that one, but it was just his second try off an extended layup. The trainer hits with .16% of those making the third start back off the rest, and this one is training lights out here. Take note of the move here on Oct. 8. Wow time. In two previous starts over this track, he has a win and a third. Looks primed to me. Majestic Affair (2) looks like the horse to beat. Comes from the Brad Cox barn, and has won two in a row and three of the last four outs. The last victory was in a Stakes event at Ellis Park in late July. Off since then, but has scored off the bench before in the first out back. I bet the 1A to win/place/show and then box the top two numbers solidly in the exacta. I will key the top 2 over the 6-1-5 in a smaller version.

8th: 2/10-6/8-9-12-7/4-1-3…Today’s finale is a nice MSW event over the grass, and I will go with St. Denman (2). Broke the maiden last time out when they hit the finish line, but was DQ’d for interference in the stretch. That was the second nice run in a row, and if he can duplicate those efforts, he looks mighty tough in this spot today. Will come from off the pace, most likely, but should have the stamina to be tough at the wire today with a little better luck. Teryn It Up (10) ran 11/4 miles over a yielding track up at Belmont Park in the last try and lost that one by a neck at the wire. Tough beat. In 7 previous runs, he has a second and 3 thirds. I like underneath. A lot. But underneath. Preacher Power (6) could be a nice upset possibility in this spot. The 6-1 ML shot ran super here in the Spring, finishing third over a soft track. Before that, he was second by a half length to Funny Duck — who won the Pat Day Mile on KY Derby Day. So, he has potential. First time out since April, though, for a trainer that hits with .13% of those off this long. Is a first time gelding. I bet the 2-6 across the board and then box the top 3 numbers in the exacta. I will key the 2 over/under the 10-6-8-9-12-7 in two more 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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