McLean’s Selections for Keeneland’s Closing Day — Saturday, Oct. 27

Day Results10-5-2-5
2018 Overall 1602596-578-706
Win % of Top Pick37.20%
Payoff % of Top 3 Picks Overall39.12%
Top Selection ITM / KEE: 100-15166.23%
Top Selection Win / KEE 57-15137.75%
“Key Horses”: 11-4-2 in 20 races55.00%

We had a really good Friday, that could have been spectacular if jockey Florent Geroux had not fallen asleep in the last race aboard the PT favorite. That would have capped the Pick 5 for us, and would have given us a really nice present going into the Breeders’ Cup.

But, such is life.

We did hit for 5 winners and some really nice Exactas on Friday, too. We had Exactas that returned $7, $22.70, $21, $10.30 for each $1 wagered. So, not a bad day. Just what could have been? Ugh.

Here’s a look at today’s closer to an exceptional Fall meet. What a venue. What a race meet. What wonderful racing. Wow. And, this is one tough card today. Not many races where we can whittle down to the nub on today.

1st: 3-6/1-5/2-4…I will focus on the top two in this lid lifter, led by Estrela Cadente (3). This one comes from the barn of Michelle Lovell, who is having a really solid year winning at a 12% clip for 105 saddle jobs. This one really ran very well at Indy Grand in her last out on Sept. 12. Nearly won that one. Has a nice mud mark for the pedigree, and the last time she was in the slop? She won by 51/4 lengths. My top pick here. Fashion Envy (6) has a win in two tries over this track, and ran a solid fourth last time out here on Oct. 11. Has a win and a second on an “off track,” and the pedigree is solid for the mud. Rider has been so ice cold all meet long, but let’s hope that he gets it going again real soon. Here’s hoping today. I bet the 3-6 across the board and then box those two in one exacta. I will key the 3-6 over/under the 1-5 in two more smaller versions.

2nd: 5-8-12/11-1-9/3-6-4-2…I will focus the binoculars on the top 3 in this one, and develop my betting strategy accordingly — led by a nice longshot in Starving (5). This 2YO filly by Bodemeister will be making the career debut for a bar that hits with .21% of those running for the first time in a MCL event. This one worked super here on Oct. 17, as well, and gets a huge mud mark in the pedigree on the dam side. Like to see this barn get off the “duck” today, and this one could provide a nice price, to boot. Upset Special. Kissing Kory (8) comes from the barn of my good friend, Buff Bradley. She has run once already, getting a 6th place finish at Churchill Downs on Sept. 30. Ran much better than it looks on paper, though, scoring the front end in that one before tiring late. Gets a new rider today, and here’s hoping that he can maximize our speed a little more. Sire line provides a nice “mud mark” here, too. Hawt Mess (12) goes for the barn of Norm Casse. Has been training lights out for this first time start. Young conditioner hits with .16% of those making the debut, and gets an aggressive rider in the saddle. Will need that breaking from this far out. I bet the 5-8 across the board and then box the top 3 in one exacta. I will key the top 3 over the next 3 in a smaller version.

3rd: 7-5/2-3-1-4-6…Once again, I will zoom in on the top 2 numbers here, led by Tapsolute (7) — who I think would be a nice pickup at $30,000 today. This 4YO colt by Tapit has never raced for this low a price tag, and comes in off two straight 4th place finishes against much tougher. Ran in the slop two back at Saratoga, and the mud marks are solid on both sides of this pedigree. Quiet Dude (5) goes for the barn of Tom Amoss. Has been cold here after a red-hot September at Churchill Downs. This one has been facing much tougher, and falls into the claiming ranks for the first time since he ran third for $40,000 at Churchill Downs four starts back. Gets a nice rider switch for this one, and could be a contender to the top pick. I bet the 7 to win/place/show and get claimed. I box the 7-5 solidly in one exacta, and then key the 7 over/under the 2-3-1-4-6 in two smaller versions.

4th: 2-3-9-7/4-6-12/1-10-5…The first grass race of the day is a 5.5-furlong sprint over a soft piece of ground for 2YOs. This baby is wide open. Beware. I will give a slight edge to Jo Jo Air (2), who hails from the barn of Wesley Ward — who specializes in these types of races. This filly is by Scat Daddy and cost $325,000 as a Keeneland September Yearling last year. This one faced the very tough Concrete Rose on debut, and that one is going to be a tough out in the Breeders’ Cup next week. The second time, she ran against the colts in the Indian Summer Stakes here. Ambitious placement. Now, she gets colts again. Why? Philosophy (3) has been training well for this inaugural running, and is a well-bred son of Speightstown. Dam of this one was Stakes-placed, and has thrown 3 turf winners already. Breeding is there. Bourbon In May (9) comes from the Todd Pletcher barn, and all they have done this meet is throw up a 8-2-1 record in 17 starts. That pans out to a win % of .47. Not bad. This one will be making the debut today, and I would not discount. Jockey and trainer have gone 3 for 4 in the last two weeks here. Beware. Valid Exchange (7) rocked a nice work here in the last prep for the first start. Trainer hits with .18% of those debuting on the grass. I bet the 9-2 across the board here (take note) and then box the top 3 numbers in the exacta. I will key the top 3 numbers over/under the 7 in two more smaller versions.

5th: 9-7-6/5-2-4/1-3-8…Another contentious group here, but I give the edge to Ready and Rich (9). This 2YO colt by Super Saver has run 5 straight seconds. That’s 5. As in a row. That’s tough to do, even if you are trying to. I think today could be the graduation day, though. One of the meet’s leading riders gets back up and this one has lost by two heads and a neck in the last 3. Due for some better luck. Right? Tapizars Secret (7) comes from the barn of Wesley Ward (explain why you run fillies against colts?). This one is a colt, though, and ran a huge second at Saratoga in the last time out. Was leading the entire way before tiring to be second. Comes back today, and the trainer hits with .21% of those coming from this type of a layup. Oh yeah. The trainer? Is 1-for-23 this meet. That’s .04%. Might want to run fillies against colts. So Alive (6) is a first timer for Pletcher. We already told you what kind of meet this guy is having. Dam of this one has 1 winner from 1 starter and that is a SW. Love the work here in last prep. Watch out. I bet the 9-6 across the board and then box those two solidly in the exacta. I will key the 9-6 over/under the 7 in two more.

6th: 6-4-10/3-1-2/12-11…Mischievious Lass (6) gets a slight edge in this tilt. The 3YO Into Mischief filly has hit the board in the last six races, and 7 of the last 8. Consistent sort, despite the fact that she has only one win in 11 previous races. Worth the $20,000 price tag, though, and surely will get haltered today, one would think. Gets one of the world’s top riders in the saddle, too. Solid mud marks in the pedigree. Despite (4) drops down a couple of notches in the claiming ranks today for a trainer having a solid year — winning at a .15% clip in 200 races. This one has two seconds in three starts over an “off track,” and should move up on that kind of surface here. Castle Ridge (10) goes for a hot trainer here this meet, and this one broke the maiden last time out easily and impressively. That rider gets off to take the reins of our top pick, but the trainer here picks up the meet’s leading rider going into the final 10 races. Could score against winners for the first time, if returns with the same run. I bet the 6 to win/place/show and then box the top 3 in one exacta. I will key the 6 over/under the 3-1-2-12-11 in two smaller versions.

7th: 10-12-7/6-5-11-4/3-8-1…Another wide open race, but I will go with Junkanoo (10) in this run over a soft and giving sod. This 2YO colt by Scat Daddy is trained by Chad Brown, and won on debut over a yielding track at Belmont Park in his only other start. Closed like a gangbuster to get the money in that one, and should improve off that effort. Trainer hits with .26% of those moving up to face winners for the first time, and this one trained very well here in prep for this one. The choice. Go Away (12) won easily on debut at Ellis Park back in the summer. Trainer hits with .16% of those moving up in class to face winners for the first time. This is another son of Scat Daddy, and his progeny does like the grass with a bit of give to it. Dam has three turf winners to date. Cardinal Coach Mac (7) comes from the barn of Joe Sharp, who is having a super meet here (.25% winners in 20 starts). This one took on Stakes company last time out and was placed 4th due to interference in that one. Should benefit from that run up the hills at KY Downs. I bet the 10-12 across the board and then box the top 3 numbers in one exacta. I will key the 10 over/under the 6-5-11-4 in a softer bet.

8th: 7-6-5/8-9-4/2-3-10…Mac Jagger (7) will get the nod in this one for me. The 3YO son of Maclean’s Music scored here this spring when running for the first time. Gets really nice mud marks in the pedigree, especially on the dam side. Ran a nice third and moved to second for interference at Saratoga two back and faced some really good ones last time out at Belmont Park. Love the last work. Looks ready. Amiral (6) broke his maiden in absolute style at Churchill Downs in September. Ran off to beat a horse who was supposed to be a good one with an easy rush. Impressive that day. Working well since that race, with a brilliant move here on Oct. 7. Top mud marks in the pedigree. Horse to beat. Ballard High (5) will be making the first start for the new barn, after moving from Linda Rice. Ran a huge second, beaten just a nose, in the last out at a mile at Laurel. Was odds-on favorite in that one. This one gets a huge mud mark from the sire, and should fit off the last work at Churchill Downs. I bet the 7 to win/place/show and then box the top 3 numbers in the exacta. I will key the 7 over/under the 8-9-4 in two smaller versions.

9th: 6/5-1-2-3…G2 Fayette Stakes…I have been a critic of those that have made Hofburg (6) — the “hot horse” before both the KY Derby and the Belmont Stakes. Didn’t think that this well-bred son of Tapit deserved those credentials. And, then he was made 2.50-to-1 in the G1 Pennsylvania Derby, where he ran a disappointing 4th. So, despite the fact that he has won nearly $500,000 this year and has gone 2-1-1 in 6 starts, I think it has been a little bit unfortunate that so many have claimed this to be disappointing. Let’s be honest. The race media and the race fans bought into that hype. Not the horse’s fault. And, I give so much credit to trainer Bill Mott and the ownership connections to come here today instead of what could have been another uphill battle in the Breeders’ Cup. I think he will be awesome today. And, a Key Play. This guy has a win over an off track; gets great mud marks from the sire; and has trained very nicely up to this event. If you can get anywhere close to 5-2 odds here today? I jump with both feet. Both feet. And, hands. I bet the 6 to win/place and then key the 6 over/under the other numbers — including Nice Not Nice. (Beware). Also, I key the 6 in all my horizontal plays.

10th: 6/5-8-7/9-1A-1…I Remember Mama (6) will be my last Key Play of this race meet. And, I have done remarkably well with those over the last month. This 4YO daughter of Ghostzapper (and you know how much I love daughters of Ghostzapper) is coming off a near win at KY Downs in the One Dreamer Stakes. Closed hard to finish second in that one. Was second to a nice one in the Stakes race before that. In 6 career starts, she has a record of 2-3-1 and has been impressive in rallying from well off the pace in each. Love that style on this giving course, and if she can convert to a soft ground, she should be very tough in this spot. I bet the 6 to win/place/show and then key the 6 over/under the 5-8-7 in two exactas. I key the 6 over (only) the 9-1A-1 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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