McLean’s Selections for KY Downs on Thursday, Sept. 5

We have not renewed our full-time, in-depth, and power handicapping just yet. We will start back when Churchill Downs kick starts its’ September meet on Friday, Sept. 13. We will handicap continuously through the end of the Churchill Downs Spring Summer meet next June.

The down time has been good. Recharged the brain. Eager to start delving back into the PPs, and pulling off the Brisnet.com intel. Ready to resume — soon.

To jump start, just a bit, here are our picks for KY Downs on Thursday, Sept. 5. Not our full blown analysis, just yet. But our “tip of the iceberg” (seems appropriate since we rode a couple over in Iceland last week) review:

Race 1: 8-2/9-(14)…This is a 1-mile event over the hills and dales of the European-styled turf course in Franklin, KY, and we will go with Road Game (8). This 3YO gelded son of Telling is trained by Chris Hartman and cost $25,000 at the OBS January Sale earlier this year. Has run once — finishing 4th at Ellis Park on July 27. Came from 9th in that one after breaking from the rail in the career debut. Went just 5.5 furlongs in that one, and appeared to need much more ground — which he will definitely get today. Question is? Does he have the wind built up enough to try a route, especially when the final furlong is uphill? Dam was unraced, but has thrown a turf winner from 3 starters. Gets Corey Lanerie up. New York Style (2) may be the horse to beat. Keep an eye on the odds board to see if he is “live.” Ran on the lead in the career debut at Ellis Park on Aug. 10. Tired in the late going, and finished 6th. But this one cost $360,000 as a 2017 KEE September yearling, and is now being offered up for the sum of $75,000. Barn hits with .18% of those that route for the first time. Gets a new rider up today, and he has a record of 3-1-0 in the last 11 rides over the past week. May be able to stretch his speed a bit farther today. Sit Tight (9) is a first time starter for a barn that hits with .10% of those that make the first start on grass. Tough place to debut, but could hit the board at a price. Joel Rosario comes to town to take the ride. Interesting. Hard Count (14) could be interesting here if he draws in from the AE List. Zero for 11 so far, but won last time out before being DQ’d. Doest have 5 seconds and 2 thirds. Pretty solid since adding the blinkers. I bet the 8-14 across the board (if the 14 draws in). I box the 8-2-9-14 in the exactas.

Race 2: 7/6-11-12/8-13…My first “Key Play of the Day” comes in this starter allowance event and with Fareeq (7). This 5YO gelded son of Distorted Humor is the 9-5 ML favorite and may not be even-money by post time. But…This one is coming off back-to-back wins over the grass and in 14 lifetime starts, he has a record of 4-2-1. Has been running against much tougher, as well. Top rider, who won on his back two starts ago, gets the mount again. Has speed to burn, and should go right to the front. The stretch out to 6.5 furlongs is a concern. No doubt. Plus, must run up the hill to the wire. But this one is the class of the field. I bet the 7 to win, and then key the 7 over/under the numbers listed in the exactas. I will take the 6-11-12-8-13 in a small exacta box, as well.

Race 3: 4-7-9/2-3/1-(15)-(16)-(13)-(14)…This is a really nice MSW event going 6.5 furlongs over the sod for the 2YOs. I’m going with my first “Upset Special of the Day” in The Drake (4). This son of Street Sense is trained by my great friend and former horse coach Tom Proctor and is a whopping 12-1 in the ML. Guy knows how to train with the best of them, and does well in this venue, as well. The dam of this one has 4 winners from 5 starters, to date, and has produced 2 turf winners. Barn hits with .17% of those making the grass for the first time. Trainer normally takes his time and lets the racing help condition. Third start is perfect. Look out with Jose Ortiz up. We’re Still Here (7) figures to get a lot of action since he was formerly trained by Bob Baffert and just ran a fifth in the G2 Best Pal Stakes. Dam was a SW and has produced 2 grass winners already. Should like the move to the sod today. One to beat. Art Collector (9) ran well on debut at Saratoga, over a firm grass course. Moved up late to be a well-beaten second. Should improve and has trained well since the race. Barn hits with .20% in the second race over the grass. I can’t leave out Shotski (2) either. First timer by Blame has been training lights out for a barn that can get the job done. Has won with .21% of the 85 starters this year. Love the rider and the 12-1 odds. I’ll take a shot. I bet the 4-2 across the board and then key the 4-2 over/under the 7-9-3-1 in the exactas.

Race 4: 3-11-10/9-12-4/7-1A…Wide open affair here, and the winner could come from a passel of these. I give the slight edge to Esfera (3), a 4YO Orb filly who hails from the barn of Ian Wilkes. Was off after breaking the maiden in January at Gulfstream Park until her return race at Ellis Park in early August. Ran well in the return effort to be 4th after a slow start. Has shown ability to run in the past, both in the a.m. and afternoon. Could be salty late, as she stretches out to more ground. Zabava (11) has already won 2 races, and she is only one of two in this race that has done that. Won the last time out for a tag, and was impressive in doing so at Saratoga. Since getting the blinkers four starts ago, she has two wins and a close up 4th. Like the 6-1 odds on this one and the rider. Comic Kitten (10), another from the barn of Mike Maker, ran up against the big girls in the G3 Pucker Up last time out. Didn’t have the game to match those kind, but back in her element today. Has never won over the grass, but could be a contender for some of the mix late. I bet the 3-11 across the board and then box the top 3 numbers in the exacta. I will key the 3-11 over/under the 9-12-4-7 in two smaller versions.

Race 5: 2-6-10/11-7/1-(13)-(16)-(14)…Another interesting, complexing, and demanding 6.5-furlong test for the 2YOs. I will give a strong lean to The Third Secret (2), who will be making his second career start for trainer Brendan Walsh. Barn is 0-for-4 so far this meet, and this one figures to be a strong betting choice — after a solid second at Ellis Park in the debut run over the grass. Came up a 1/2-length short in the first try, but the son of Tapit is out of a Stakes-placed mare who already has 2 turf winners. Looks compelling. Mr Matuschek (6) is a first timer for the barn of Wesley Wards — who specializes in these types. Has been working well for the career debut, and the barn hits with nearly .30% of those. Food and Wine (10) gets the second start for Tom Proctor, and looks like one who could move way up in this spot. Son of War Front is out of a Stakes-winning mare — who has thrown a turf winner already. Like this one, who gets Jose Ortiz up, too. I bet the 2-10 across the board and then box the top 3 in the exacta. I key the 2-10 over/under the 11-7-1 in two smaller versions.

Race 6: 8/2-12-3-6/(14)-12-10-4/5…My second “Key Play of the Day” comes here with Ian Wilkes’ steed Bohemian Bourbon (8). This 3YO Midshipman filly cots $85,000 to purchase at the OBS June Sale in 2018, and has since gone on to win over $113,000 in purses. Ran 6th in a Stakes event at Saratoga in the last out, but was beaten less than 2 lengths for all the money. Was third in a Stakes at Saratoga before that. Will be closing late, and gets a top grass rider in the saddle. Love the look of this one today. I bet the 8 to win/place/show and then key the 8 over/under all the numbers listed in the exactas.

Race 7: 6-(16)/11-7-8/2-5-12-9/(13)-(14)…The standout in this 6.5-furlong sprint for the 2YO fillies figures to be Sequin (6). This daughter of Bayern cost a whopping $500,000 to purchase at the Fast-Tipton March Sale. That was the top price for an off-spring of this sire at that venue. Nearly made it work on debut, when she ran second at Saratoga on July 21. Gave up a 3-length lead in the stretch to lose by a neck as the betting choice. Now, must go an 1/8th of a mile longer. Is she fit and ready? Morning works indicate that she is. Will be the likely PT favorite. Has gas. Does she have the guts? Mom’s Pass (16) is not likely to draw in from the AE List, but this daughter of Point of Entry would figure right there if she did make the gate. Has 2 very nice seconds in the first 3 outings, and has flashed speed before, too. Will find the winner’s circle soon. I bet the 6 to win/place/show and then key the 6 over/under all the numbers listed. If the #16 draws in, things change.

Race 8: 9-11-12/2-5-3/(16)-(14)/1-8-10/7-(13)-6…This is a wide open allowance-optional claimer that could see any one of many hit the wire first. Jumble. I will give a slight edge to Penalty (9), who is a 4YO that cost $390,000 to buy as a yearling in 2016. Has managed to squeak out $136,000 in purses the hard way, with a 2-3-1 mark in 9 career starts to date. Was disappointing last time out at Saratoga, but only lost by 11/2 lengths. Won the time before at “The Spa,” so lost that condition. Ran third to Raging Bull in June of 2018. If he can duplicate that effort? Watch out. Renaisance Frolic (11) ran a good one at KEE back in the Spring. Has 3 career wins, which puts him in the mix with these. Cowboy Culture (12) used to be a good one, and has faced much, much, much tougher in his life. Drops into the claiming ranks today for a top young trainer, who knows how to get them in the right spot. Look out here. If he can find his old form, he may whip these at a nice pice. I bet the 9-12 across the board and then box the top 3 in the exacta. I will key the 9-12 over/under the 11-2-5-3-1-8 in two smaller versions.

Race 9: Old Friends Stakes…3-5/2-4-9/1-8-7-(14)…Mr. Misunderstood (3) has raced only twice this year for trainer Brad Cox, and he has notched a couple of impressive third place finishes against solid competition. Has been training well for the third start of the cycle, and has a third over this track — when he ran behind Bound for Nowhere here last year. In 18 grass starts in the career, he has 11 wins, 1 second and 3 thirds. Experience over this course helps, immensely. My pick. Catapult (5) is a 6YO son of Kitten’s Joy and ships in from California for trainer John Sadler. Has a 5-5-1 mark in 19 grass starts, and the last 7 starts have been against either G1 or G2 company. None of those kind will show up here, but this one has never been over this odd course, either. Top rider will get the job for the first time today. Can’t dismiss this one’s track record against much better. I bet the 3 to win/place/show and then box the 3-5 in one exacta. I will key the 3-5 over/under the 2-4-9-1-8-7 in two smaller versions.

Race 10: 10-6-8/(13)-7/5-(15)-2/11-3-1…Another MSW event, this one an endurance test of 15/16-miles over a spectrum of hills and dales. I’ll go with Coilean Bawn (10), but it’s a wide open affair. This 3YO Pioneerof the Nile filly is coming off two really solid performances, since she started being treated with the Lasix three starts back. Dam of this one was a SW and the winner of the last race has already come back to win again. If she can sustain her run again, she will be tough to hold off in the last stages of this one. Temple City Terror (6) has raced 7 times to date, with only 1 second and 2 thirds. But she ran well last time out. Figures off that run, but will have to show that she can finish one of these days. Will get support, but I find her very skeptical. Cambeliza (8) is 15-1 in the ML, and I think could offer great value at PT. Daughter of Curlin should love the distance, and the trainer sure can find a winner’s circle — with .20% winners in 210 starts this year. Ran well on debut, but faltered after a bit of a layoff last time out. Gets blinkers today, for the first time. Barn hits with .16% of those. I love this one’s chances, with a red hot jockey in the irons. I bet the 10-8 across the board and then box the top 3 numbers in one exacta. I will key the 10-8 over the (13)-7-5-(15)-2 in two 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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