McLean’s Selections for KY Downs on Saturday, Sept. 7

After a successful day and run on Thursday, we now turn our attention and handicapping to Saturday’s card at Kentucky Downs. As most known, the European-styled, all-grass course offers a lot of betting opportunities and challenges — at the same time.

In short?

It is not easy to pick winners over the hills and dales that make up the rolling course located in Franklin, KY. On Thursday, we were both luck and good.

We handicapped the full race card at KY Downs on Thursday, and we came away with a very nice “Return on Investment,” and a little more cash in our pockets. Hope you played along.

We had the winner of the 2nd race, and the first of our “Key Plays.” Fareeq was the odds-on favorite, but still returned $3.20, $2.60 and $2.20.

We also had the winner in the 5th race, and scored a nice exacta. The Third Sense returned $9.80, $6.00 and $3.40 and the $1 exacta returned a handy $26.70. Nice.

We came right back to nail the winner in the 6th race with another “Key Play of the Day.” This time Bohemian Bourbon was a single for us in the horizontal plays, as well, and helped us to a .50-cent Pick 3 return of $41.75. We nailed that several times. Bohemian Bourbon paid $9.60, $5.40 and $3.40 and the $1 exacta returned a whopping $67.00. Nailed it.

We saved our best for last, though. In the final race of the day, we had Cambeliza at odds of nearly 14-1. And, we had the exacta. The winner returned $29.60, $10 and $6.20 across the board, and the exacta booted $56.10 for each $1 played.

Now, we are hoping for some of the same success on Saturday. Here’s a closer look:

Race 1: 10-9-8/3-12/7-(13)-(15)-(16)…Today’s first event is a 6.5-furlong event for the maiden fillies and mares 3YOs & Up. I will go to the outside for my top 3 picks here, led by Brittas Bay (10). This 3YO daughter of Scat Daddy is trained by Wesley Ward, who does well with these grass sprinters and with progeny of this sire. This gal has had her chances. In 7 tries to date, she has 4 seconds and 1 third. May like to hang in the late going when she has a big chance. Gets a new rider, who has been up once before. Like the work on Aug. 29. The one to beat. But she is beatable, if she hangs late again. Especially going up the hill in this stretch. Ameerah (9) is a 3YO daughter of Street Boss and will be making her first start for the new barn of Steve Asmussen. This barn hits with .19% of those making the first start for the new connections. Got really tired in the 1-mile effort at Del Mar on Aug. 18, when getting blinkers for the first time. May improve with the cut back. Better than the last. Stolen Beauty (8) is another speedy type, and is trained by my great friend and trainer — Stephen Lyster. Saw this filly on Friday, and she is the picture of health. I think she will run a big one for Corey Lanerie, but the question is distance. At 5.5 furlongs? I would be very bullish. At 6.5 furlongs? I’m a little bit bullish. I bet the 9 (take note) to win/place/show and then box the top 3 in the exacta.

Race 2: 9-10-7/3-(14)-(16)/1-8…We go from a sprint to an endurance test, which will be contested at 15/16-miles over the grueling course. Again, I will go outside here, and land on Herecomesyourman (9). This 5YO gelded son of Distorted Humor will be making his first start for a new barn, after being claimed last time out off trainer Anthony Dutrow. Ran second at Saratoga in that event on Aug. 2. Has worked well for the new connections, who hit with .21% on the first try after a claim. This one does not show a race beyond 11/16-miles, but does look like he prefers to close. Added distance may help in this spot. Prefer the 6-1 ML odds, and this could drift up, too. Marshall Law (10) will be making his second start in N.A. after being shifted from Ireland to the barn of Michael Stidham. Broke he maiden last time out at 11/4-miles. Interestingly enough, though, was not treated with Lasix then or today — like many of the European shippers. Love the 15-1 odds here, and this one gets my first “Upset Pick of the Day.” Magnificent McCool (7) — another from the barn of trainer Steve Asmussen. This 3YO son of Giant’s Causeway does have some pedigree limitations at this distance — IMO. Never been this far before, but has run twice at 11/8-miles. Didn’t really finish in either one of those. Ran in a G3 event at Belmont two starts ago, and should prefer this class situation. I bet the 10 (take note) to win/place/show and then box the top 3 numbers in the exacta. I will key the 10 over/under the “all button” in two smaller versions.

Race 3: 4-12/11-1-5/8-9-6-10/(14-15-16)…Another MSW event here, and this one will be held for the 2YO fillies going 1 mile. I zero in on my top 2 selections here — led by Swanage (4). This daughter of English Channel is trained by the winningest trainer in history at KY Downs, and has the speed to set the early fractions. Ran a huge one two starts back at Ellis Park before shipping up to Saratoga. Didn’t seem to like the extra 1/16-mile in the last out, and shortens back up today. Love the rider choice. My solid pick. Luck Money (12) ran a sneaky good debut race at Laurel Park on Aug. 16. Now, stretches out and the pedigree suggests that she may relish the extra ground. Connections won here on Thursday, and the rider is as good as any around on the grass. Don’t dismiss this one at 6-1 ML odds. Could drift up the odds board, too. I bet both the 4-12 across the board and then box those 2 in one exacta. I key the 4-12 over/under the 11-1-5-8-9-6-10 in two smaller versions.

Race 4: 10-1-(16)/2-8-9/5-7-11/(13-15)…I Can Do Anything (10) is a 5YO gelded son of Uncle Mo and comes into this one off three really nice races in a row. Will get a little more ground at 6.5 furlongs today, and that may help this one a lot. In 4 career starts over the sod, he has a 1-2-1 mark, and has the look of a winner in this group. Preacher Power (1) may be a sleeper in this crowd. Draws the rail, and that may be a hindrance for this deep closer. But gets a very aggressive rider in the saddle for the first time and shortens up to a sprint for the first time — as in ever. Barn hits with .26% of those going from a route to a sprint. Love the work on Aug. 28, and the barn is having an exceptional year. I would not dismiss this one at 8-1 odds. I bet the 10-1 across the board and then box those 2 in the exacta. I will key the 10-1 over/under the 2-8-9-5-7-11 in two smaller versions.

Race 5: 9-(16)-(13)/2-7-5-8/10-(14)-1…The one horse that I know will definitely (maybe) run in this race is Great Sense (9). This one trained by Ian Wilkes is my second “Upset Play of the Day.” To be honest, my “Upset” plays have been a little weak this year. But I truly think this one can move way up today for several reasons. One, the trainer normally likes to “race” his horses into final condition. This is the 3rd career start and the 2nd off the layoff. Barn does well with .13% when that happens. Secondly, this one gets grass today after two ho-hum efforts over the dirt. Dam of this one has 2 turf winners from the 5 winners she has thrown. She has produced 2 Stakes Winners, too. Could wake up at a huge price today. If the AE horses don’t get in, I slide down my list of horses to take a more serious look at Midnight Oasis (2). Gets Jose Ortiz in the saddle today, and should improve with the first time on Lasix, too. I think the 6-1 odds go down at PT, but will definitely include. I bet the 9-2 across the board and then box the 9-2 in one exacta. I will key the 9-2 over/under the 7-5-8-10-1 in two smaller versions.

Race 6: 7-8-4/5-6-12/1-9/2-10-11…Kentucky Downs Juvenile Turf Sprint Stakes…The first of the Stakes events to be held today, and I will go to my biggest “Upset Play of the Day.” Listed at 20-1 in the ML is Invader (7). I don’t think I can get those odds at post, but I love this one. The 2YO son of War Front was bet down to favoritism in the career debut at Belmont Park on July 6. Ran wide that day and never got the running shoes going. But has trained super since that effort, and is trained by the king of 2YO races. Still a maiden, sure, but this barn doesn’t care. I jump all over this one today. Prince of Thieves (8) is another long shot at 10-1 in the ML. Another whose odds are likely to plummet, but I love the way this one won on debut at Ellis Park on July 26. Slow start. Settled off the pace. Came with a huge run. Look for more today out of this son of Into Mischief. Cambria (4) is a whopping 12-1 in the ML. Another from the barn of Wesley Ward. Is a perfect 2-for-2 at Presque Isle over the all-weather, but is out of a Stakes-winning mare. Watch out. Could be box cars here. I bet the 7-8 across the board and then box the top 3 in the exacta. I key the top 3 numbers over (only) the 5-6-12-1-9 in another smaller version.

Race 7: 8-3/10-9-1/6-7/5…G3 Turf Sprint Stakes…Can’t understand why the connections of Runhappy — an all-dirt horse — have decided to sponsor an all grass race meet and double down on this event, too, but then again I saw that Runhappy was sponsoring the 8-year-old football league in PeeWee Valley this morning. I go with Leinster (8) in this spot. This one comes in with a 3-race win streak and he has simply been a different horse since Rusty Arnold equipped this one with blinkers 4 back. Won the G3 Troy Stakes last time out powerfully and impressively. No reason he can’t duplicate that effort today with the same rider aboard. Imprimis (3) had a 2-race win streak going until he was shipped to England for the meet at Royal Ascot. Ran a nice 6th over the pond, and now returns to the races for the first time since that whirlwind trip. Can close the turf sprints with the best of them, and the rider today is a perfect 2-for-2 on his back. Look out late. I bet the 8 to win/place/show and then box the 8-3 in one exacta. I key the 8-3 over/under the 10-9-1-6-7 in two smaller versions.

Race 8: G3 Ladies Turf Stakes…2-5-7/9-8/4-1-3…What a nice field has been compiled for this 1-mile event. I will go with a bit of an upset here, too, though. I’m leaning to Simply Breathless (2), a 4YO Brit-bred for the barn of Neil Drysdale — one of the best grass conditioners in the world. This one won the G3 Wilshire Stakes at Santa Anita in June at this 1-mile distance. Journeyed to Arlington Park for a try in the 13/16-mile G3 Modesty in the last out. Got a bit tired in that one. Now, shortens back up to a distance that she obviously prefers. Solid rider choice here. Look for this one to be motoring late and with a real purpose. Storm the Hill (5) ran second by a nose in the G2 Yellow Ribbon last time out. Has only 2 wins in 13 tries at this distance, but should be close at the wire, too. Mitchell Road (7) and Ms Bad Behavior both legit arguments in here, too. I bet the 2 across the board and then key the 2 over/under the numbers listed in the exactas.

Race 9: G3 Ladies Sprint Stakes…4-3-7-10/6-9-8/11-5-1…What a wide, wide, wide open affair this promises to be. Dart time. I will definitely spread out in the horizontals here, but I may lean to price plays best in the straights and short exotics. That’s why I will lean to A Little Bit Me (4) — an inconsistent sort, to be sure. But when she is on her game? She came spring the upset with the best of them. Look at the win on May 2 in the Unbridled Sydney. At 24-1 odds. Has that kind of run in her, from time to time. Trainer won a huge one here last year with Next Shares. Distance here may be perfect, and I love the rider choice — one of the best on the grass. You can make a case for the rest of them, to be sure. I bet the 4 win/place/show and then box the 4-3-7 in one exacta and then the 4-3-10 in another. I key the 4 over/under all the numbers in two smaller ones.

Race 10: $1,000,000 G3 Calumet Farm Turf Cup Stakes…5-10-9/11-3-2-1-8…A cool $1 million is on the line in this 11/2-mile endurance test over the hills and dales. The last time that Bigger Picture (5) teamed up with rider Tyler Gaffalione and then travelled 11/2 miles together, they won the G2 Elkhorn Stakes at Keeneland in April. In four races together, they have a record of 1-1-1. And, in 14 tries at this distance, the 8YO gelding is 4-3-3. Don’t know if the “old man” is the same as he used to be, or better? But he deserves another shot over the track he ran a huge one in last year. Arklow (10) edged our top choice a year ago in this same race. Will be coming late again for the barn of Brad Cox and under the steady hand of Florent Geroux. In 4 tries this year, still looking for the first win. But has 2 losses by a neck and a third in the G2 Bowling Green by just a half-length. The one to beat. Zulu Alpha (9) deserves a serious look off the run in the Bowling Green, as well. Gets Jose Ortiz up today and that may make a huge difference. My price play may be Hello Don Julio (8). Has run 3 times in his career at this distance. Won 2 of them. I toss the race at Ellis Park. He has never run that badly ever before. Look for him to rebound with a big effort today at odds that could climb high. I definitely use. I bet the 5-8 across the board and then key the 5-8 over/under all the numbers listed.

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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