McLean’s Selections for KY Downs on Thursday, Sept. 13

Day Results10-6-2-5
2018 Overall 1371507-501-612
Win % of Top Pick36.98%
Payoff % of Top 3 Picks Overall39.39%

What a day we had on Wednesday at KY Downs. Out of the 10 races carded and raced, we had 6 winners, 2 seconds and 5 thirds from our top picks. In addition, we hit for exactas that returned $8.10, $18.50, $10.40, $17.10 and $70.40 for each $1 played on them. Not a bad day at all, especially considering we finished with a $20 winner.

Here we go for the final day of racing over the hills and dales before we open the September Race Meet at Churchill Downs. Good luck.

1st: 12-4-5-9-6-3-1…I will key on the top selection in the first today. Chocolate Ride (12) comes from the barn of Brad Cox, whose only winner so far this meet is Arklow. But this 8YO gelding has two seconds in three starts this year, and performs admirably at this distance — spinning up a 4-3-1 record in 12 tries. Has raced twice over this track before, with no luck. But the last try was in a Stakes event, when he tired going this same route of ground. Has not raced since July 28, but the trainer hits with .29% of those returning from this kind of layup and with .32% of those returning as a beaten favorite. My pick. One Mean Man (4) has not had a good year, with only 2 thirds in 10 starts to date. But he will be dropping into the claiming ranks for the first time and the trainer hits with .14% of those. This drop should put him in a much better spot, but the trainer is 0-0-0 in four starts this meet. Granny’s Kitten (5), on the other hand, will get the saddle from the hottest trainer to race here. Barn has 7 winners in 22 starts to date. This one has not raced since April, but trainer does OK off the bench (.18%). Last five starts subpar, but does have some nice back class. I bet the 12 to win/place/show and then key the 12 over/under the 4-5-9 (make sure to include the 9). I will key the 12 over the rest in a smaller version.

2nd: (13)-3-(15)-(14)-6-(16)-5-4-1…Obviously, my top selections here are on the AE List. If they draw in, I have to use — especially the 13. If not, I go with the other numbers in that order — led by Blockbuster (3) This one comes from the barn of Mark Casse, who has been super cold all summer long. But this first timer is super well bred and has been training lights out. Jockey has 6-1-2 record in 24 rides so far. Gets my “dot” (must use) in this spot. Inda Zone (6) comes from a cold-butt barn, as well, but does have a nice second in his only try over the sod. That grass track, though, was super hard and fast and played to speed. This one may not. Could be vulnerable. Jersey Agenda (5) may be a nice long-shot play in here, though. First timer for a barn that hits with only .07% of those making the debut on the grass. But they paid $250,000 for this one and the dam has 3 turf winners to date. I’m using. I bet the 3-5 across the board and then box the 3-6-5 in one exacta — if the AE horses don’t draw in.

3rd: 1-2-4-7-3-10-6…A wide open race here on a day when there could be plenty of long shots and upsets. Tough card in the early going. I will concentrate on the top 3 numbers in this one, led by Smart Remark (1), who comes from the strong homebred contingency of G. Watts Humphrey. This 3YO gelding has been right there in five of the last six races. Has only one win to show for the efforts, and that came on the dirt. But he does have a 1-1-2 record in the only four tries over the sod, to date. Has the speed to be dangerous with the cut-back in distance today. Commute (2) has been a good one, winning nearly $400,000 in the career. Has only 1 win in 6 starts this year, though. Did run a nice, but tiring second here on Sept. 1. Will go longer today, and the question is whether he can carry that speed this far. Concern. Hembree (4) comes from the Mike Maker barn, and you have to consider any of these right now. Had a nice run to be fourth at Saratoga in the last start. The one before was a win at Belmont. Have to use. I bet the 1-4 across the board and then box those two solidly in one exacta. I key the 1-4 over/under the 2. Then I key the 1-4 over the rest in a smaller version.

4th: 8-9-5-7-6-10-11-3-1…Another well-balanced field here, but I will give a slight edge to Les Biz (8) in here. Rider is doing well, and this one ran a good third before tiring late in that one at Ellis Park. Winner that day has come back to win again already. Trainer hits with only .05% of those making the debut on the grass, but the dam is a SW, who has thrown two turf winners. She has a SW herself, too. So, pedigree is there. Trainer hits with .25% of those returning as the beaten favorite. Nod. Boxwood (9) is a speedster parking just to the outside of the top choice, and could be tough cutting back to this sprint distance today. Trainer hits with .22% of those making the second career start, and with .21% of those making the second start on the grass. Gets a top rider in the irons. Small Row Girl (5) is a Maker pupil. Should improve, despite being away since early May. Love the recent works. I bet the 8-9 across the board and then box the top 3 in one exacta. I key the top 3 over the next three in a smaller version.

5th: 11-10-4-7-3-2-12-9-1…I will key the top number in this spot. Peter’s Kitten (11) has run two strong seconds in a row, and the young trainer does hit with .11% of MSW starters. If she can run back the same race she displayed in either of the first two tries, she should be very tough in this spot. Love the work at Keeneland on Sept. 7. Danger. Paigely (10) ran second on debut for Brad Cox. The show horse in that one has already come back to win. Trainer is having a super year and top rider gets the saddle today. Danger, too. I bet the 11-10 across the board and then box those two solidly in one exacta. I key the 11-10 over the 4-7-3-2 in a smaller version.

6th: 7-5-4-12-8-6-10-2-3…Another one where it could be wide open. I will focus on the top 3 numbers here, led by Bridled Temper (7). This 3YO War Front filly is coming off a race at Ellis Park where she could have, and, perhaps, should have won. Beaten a neck as the heavy favorite in that one. Trainer scores with .25% of beaten favorites, and this one ran a solid fourth in a Stakes before that. Has credentials. English Dancer (5) has won three in a row, and figures to be the one to catch on the lead. Gets a top rider in the irons today. In 12 grass races, this one has 3-1-2 record. Zero for 2 here, though. Mixed signals. Runninwiththewind (4) is my long shot play here, and could add some real punch to the exotic mix at 8-1 ML odds. This one ran much better than it looked last time out in mid-June at Churchill Downs. Solid field in that one. Race three back is a winning effort. Has never won on the grass, though. Today? I bet the 7-4 across the board and then box the top 3 in one exacta. I key the top 3 over/under the 12-8-6 in a smaller version.

7th: 10-9-7-6-1-2-11…A key race for me with Zalia (10). This is a first timer from the barn of Brad Cox — who its with .26% of those making the debut on the grass. That’s 5% points higher than his first timers on the dirt, and your rarely see an improvement in grass starters. This one is training very well, too, and the jockey has hit with .42% of the last 43 starters for this barn. My Best Bet of the Day. I bet the 10 to win/place/show and then key the 10 over/under the 9-7-6. I key the 10 over the rest of the numbers in a smaller version.

8th: 10-5-6-7-12-1-2-8…Franklin-Simpson Stakes…A wide open, 6.5-furlong sprint Stakes event here. I will focus on the top 3 numbers, but stretch a bit more to cover in the horizontals. My top pick is Angaston (10), who had some traffic issues entering the stretch in the last one. I can dismiss that one, though, because he had run so well before then — hitting the board in 7 straight. Three wins in that mix. Regular rider back on board. Has 2 wins and a second in only 4 starts over the sod. I have to use. Majestic Dunhill (5) could add some spice to the mix at 12-1 ML odds. Gets Joe Bravo up, and he has a win and a second in only three rides here so far. This one really ran well at Monmouth before shipping to Saratoga. Lunged at the start of that one and was no factor. Expect more here. Battle Station (6) and Funny Duck (7) both get used by me. I bet the 10-5 across the board and then box the 10-5-6 in one exacta, and then the 10-5-7 in another. 

9th: 1-4-3-2-7-9-11-8…Ramsey Farm Stakes…I will zero in on the top 2 numbers here, led by the rail bird — Mom’s On Strike (1). This one is having a super year with 3 wins and a second in 6 starts for the barn of Joe Sharp. She loves to make a late move and the distance sure lends itself to her style of running. She won the G3 Bewitch at Keeneland this Spring. Talent here. Tricky Escape (4) may be the horse to beat. This 5YO mare is shaping in from Saratoga, where she won going away in a Stakes event moved off the grass. But she does have a 3-1-2 record in 10 starts over the sod, and has a second over this grass in this same Stakes event a year ago. Regular rider ships in with her. Beware. I bet the 1-4 across the board and then box those two solidly in one exacta. I key the 1-4 over/under the 3-2 in two more. I key the 1-4 over the 7-9-11-8 in a much smaller version.

10th: (14)-9-6-3-4-5…If the #14 draws in from the AE, I go there. If not, this one is wide open to finish the race season here. I will go with Purely Boy (9) on top. This one ships in from Arlington Park, where he has been running over the all-weather track. But this 9YO son of Purim is truly a grass expert. Has 11-4-4 record in 23 starts on the sod, and is doing well this year with 4 wins under the girth. My pick. Altito (6) and Stratton (3) both figure to have a shot in here, too. I bet the 9 to win/place/show and then key the 9 over/under the 6-3-4-5.

Good Luck & All the Best/Gene

We had a trip that we didn’t expect. I thought I was going to be close to the pace, but we got bumped a little bit leaving the gate so I was last and just bided my time. I made one run and it was a good one. At about the eighth pole I thought I was going to get there (for the win). I had figured (before the race that) I would save ground and kick on at the end and that is what he did.”

Julien Leparoux, Winning rider
  • 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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