McLean’s Selections for Saratoga, Del Mar, Ellis Park & Arlington Park for Sunday, July 22

Day Results22-7-7-9
2018 Overall 1002371-371-439
Win % of Top Pick37.10%
Payoff % of Top 3 Picks Overall39.30%

We handicapped 22 races on Saturday, and came home with 7 winners. Our best, though, was a $25 winner (5th race) that came home at Del Mar. We also had an exacta at Del Mar (8th) that returned $68.20 for $1. Overall, we had three winners at Saratoga and three winners at Del Mar.

Let’s try to improve on those numbers today, as we once again take a look at racetracks all over the land.


2nd: 1-1A-3-2B-5-7-6…Toy Moon (1) and Chocolate Kisses (1A) look very formidable in this spot today, as they both stretch out to two turns for the first time and try the sod, as well. Both of them have great grass pedigrees, and look like they both have the speed to put themselves in the race early. The former comes from a dam who has 5 winners from 7 starters and two turf winners. The latter comes from a dam who has 4 winners from 5 starters and 3 turf winners. Both well bet in their last starts. I like both here and hope they can both hit the board. I bet the entry to win/place and then key them over/under the rest.

3rd: 2-6-1-7…Complicit (2) comes from the Chad Brown barn, and once again he is off to a great start here at The Spa. In the first 7 starters, he had 2 winners and 2 seconds. This one is coming off two straight wins after two straight seconds. Gets Irad Ortiz back in the saddle, and he had a rather difficult day for him on Saturday. Look for a rebound today. I bet the 2 to win/place/show and then key over/under the rest.

5th: 5-8-6-2-3…Domain (5) will be making his fourth career start today and has done well in the last two, running second in each. The HOF trainer hits with .18% in the MSW ranks and this one should be stalking the leaders from the get-go. Stretches out a bit farther today and that will be interesting for this one, though. Point to Remember (8) will be the horse that gets my money today, though. Trained by James Jerkens, this one will be getting Lasix for the second time and ran second to Vino Rosso last November at Aqueduct. Really like this one, stretching out for the first time. Trainer hits with .22% of those doing that. Wooderson (6) goes for the barn of Todd Pletcher, who is off to a good start this meet, as well. Ran super at Gulfstream Park back in April — when all the good horses were departing for KY. Didn’t far so well in the last, but look at the trip notes. “Rough trip.” I will give him that one. I bet the 8 — take note — to win, place, show. In fact, he will be my first Best Bet of the Day. I key the 8 over/under all the other numbers in the exactas.

7th: 9-4-5-3-8-1-2…Big Birthday (9) goes for the barn of Chad Brown, who hits with .23% of those making the second start off a layup. Went wide in that last trip, and may have the same go of it from this post position today. Gets an extra furlong to negotiate that trip, though, and the trainer/jockey have gone 2-0-2 in the last 8 starts. Communal (4) ran a huge second on debut at Belmont Park on June 7. Trainer hits with .14% of those making the second start. Training OK since the last race, and should be OK at this distance, if the last race tightened her up any. Golden Award (5) ran second after setting all the early fractions going two turns last time out. Now, shortens up to a one-turn, 7-furlong trip today. That cutback should help, and the trainer hits with .19% of those returning after being bet down to the favorite in the last. I bet the 9 to win/place/show and then box the top 3 numbers in the exacta. I key the top 3 over the rest in a smaller version.

8th: 4-3-10-2-5…Queen Mum (4) is my long shot play of the day. This 3YO daughter of Painter will get to the grass for the first time, but the trainer hits with .12% of these, and this one is out of a Stakes Winning mare, who has one turf winner from 4 starters. There is 4 winners and 1 SW in that group. The race two back was against Cosmic Burst, who is a darn good one. Watch out here. Guerriere (3) is definitely the horse to beat. She will be making her second start in NA, after being shipped to Brown from French connections. Didn’t fire the best shot on May 5 at Belmont as the favorite, but should be better with the longer distance today. Jaunt (10) is a horse that loves to hit the board, but prefers not to win. In 15 career starts to date, she has only one win. But has 3 seconds and 5 thirds. The best strategy may be to key her underneath. I bet the 4 across the board and then box the top 3 in the exacta.

9th: 4-5-3-2…Coaching Club of America Stakes…If you read these pages at all, you will know that I absolutely love Monomoy Girl (4) — winner of this year’s KY Oaks and winner of 7 of 8 career races. Only a neck loss in the G2 Golden Rod Stakes at Churchill Downs last Fall keeps her from perfection. I think she stamps another win into the girth strap today for trainer Brad Cox. This is one spectacular filly, and I think she runs away from them all in this spot. I will bet the 4 to win (only) and then key the 4 over the 5-3-2, hoping that I can catch a longer shot underneath as opposed to the highly touted Midnight Bisou.

10th: 9-2-3-5-4…This is another key play for me with Competitionofideas (9), who goes for the barn of Chad Brown. This daughter of Speightestown is out of the Stakes Winning mare Devil by Design — who is by Medaglia d’Oro. Connections were able to buy this one for $325,000 at Keeneland September 2016, and I still think that could turn into a bargain price. The trainer hits with .33% on second route races and with .29% of those returning after losing the last race as the favorite. This one nearly won last time out and I think she will close strong enough in this spot to get the job well done. I bet the 9 to win/place and then key the 9 over (only) the rest of the numbers.

Del Mar:

1st: 3-7-4…Deputy Bernardini (3) will not be very long odds, but will be very tough to beat. My first Best Bet of the Day on the West Coast. This guy cost $190,000 at the Keeneland September in 2016, and that’s a lot of money for an Algorithms. The fourth highest of 27 sold that sale. Ran second at odds-on in the debut on June 24. Game the entire way. Has come back to work a bullet here on July 17. Looks like a tough one for a trainer who hits with .26% of those returning after being beaten as the favorite. I bet the 3 to win and key over the 7-4.

4th: 4-3-2-1-11-12…Classy Atlantic (4) is a speedball daughter of Stormy Atlantic who should love this 5 furlong distance today. Never been this short, but this one loves the lead and she was tremendous coming down the hill in the last. Nice work here on July 16, and the trainer hits with .17% of those returning after a win. Tizanillusion (3) has raced 17 times on the grass with just 2 wins. But…There’s always a but, right? She has 8 seconds and 3 thirds. I can’t leave out of the exotics with that kind of record. Tonahutu (2) should or may be the PT favorite, coming off a second in her only start in this country. But…there’s always a but. That was last September here. Hasn’t raced since. And, the trainer only hits with .05% of those away from the races this long. Has been training well at San Luis Rey, but this may be a prep for something longer a bit later in the meet. I bet the 4 to win/place/show and then key the 4 over/under all the numbers listed.

6th: 9-10-14-11-5-4-3-6-8-12-13…Wickerr Stakes…This is a wide open affair, going a mile over the grass course next to the surf course. What makes it even tougher is that some of the best horses in this field have drawn the far outside, and that is a death knell to many who try this mile course. I will go with Big Score (9), who has a nice 2-2-1 record at this distance and has a 1-2-1 record over this track, as well. Has not raced since Dec. 26, but this trainer does very well off this type of a layup (.23%), and this 4YO colt scored a nice win off a considerable layoff last year. Has been training OK for the return, and I give him a slight edge. Colonist (10) has five races this year, including a run in the G1 Shoemaker Mile on May 28 for one of the hottest trainers in the world right now. Didn’t fair that well in that one, but gets a little bit of a respite in here in the class department. Will be closing late, and the race two back was very nice. The horse to beat may be Bombard (14), who will be stretching out from the downhill course to a mile distance. But he has won two in a row and three of the last four and does have two seconds at this one mile distance. The post is awful and this one likes to be close. I bet the 9-10 across the board and then box those two in the exacta. I key the 9-10 over/under the 14-11-5-4 in two exactas. I key the 9-10 over the rest of the numbers.

7th: 3-8-5-1-6…This is another key race and a single for me, with Mother Mother (3) making her career debut for the Baffert Barn. This one has been highly touted from the get go and she brought a nice $450,000 as a Keeneland September Yearling just a year ago. Has been training very nicely, and I am ready to put her in the winner’s circle on debut. I bet the 3 to win only and then key the 3 over the rest of the numbers.

8th: 5-1-7-9-11-4-3-10-6-2…G2 Eddie Read Stakes…Another wide open race over the Del Mar grass, and this one sparks real attention. I finally settle on Sharp Samurai (5) for a couple of reasons. One of those is the fact that he got a nice prep win in an allowance up at Santa Anita on June 17. Two, he is 4-for-5 at the distance and 2-for-3 over this surface. If those aren’t enough credentials, he has a HOF rider in the saddle — and Gary Stevens fits this one perfectly. Love his chances. I like the European shipper, too. True Valour (1) is coming off a Group 3 win in Ireland, and the race two back was about as impressive. Top of his game right now. Can’t dismiss and love the 15-1 odds. Hunt (7), Itsinthepost (9), and Fashion Business (11) all have a shot, and I will definitely use Flamboyant (3) at 20-1 odds in the exotics. I bet the 5-1 across the board and then box those two in the exacta. I key those two over/under the 7-9-11-3. I then key the 5-1 over the rest of the numbers.

Arlington Park:

3rd: 3-2-4…Love Shack Baby (3) is coming off a MSW win in her first start this year for the barn of Michael Stidham. It was her first time over the polytrack. This daughter of Shackleford bears watching. She may be getting better at the age of 3, and look at the work before the win. I really think this one has a nice upside. My Bet of the Day despite the fact that she will be facing winners for the first time today. I bet the 3 to win/place/show and then key over/under the other two listed.

Ellis Park:

4th: I like Cantcatchchanneled (5), from the barn of Buff Bradley. Has been off since April, but this one ran well at Tampa Bay and drops to the near bottom for this effort today. Trainer hits with .37% when dropping down this far. Looks to have the type of run that can be successful at this level and draws a top rider with weight allowance. The pick. Appealing Way (7) should run another good one, but loses the condition that she fit in last time out. Training good and goes for a top young trainer. Don’t dismiss at 6-1 odds.

5th: Maybe Wicked (1) should run much better than the last, when facing winners for the first time. Trainer is winning at .25% lick this meet, and this one was really nice two starts back. Super training session at Churchill Downs on July 15. Like the 3-1 odds. Alex’s Bourbon (2) and Flossie (3) both have a shot in here, as well. Trust (5) is one trained by Steve Asmussen, and despite the debacle in the last try in November, she showed some run at Keeneland to break the maiden in October. Like the work at Lone Start before being shipped her. The winner on debut is a good one. Can’t totally dismiss. I bet the 1-3 across the board and then box those two in the exacta. I key the 1-3 over the 2-5.

6th: I will go 2-3 across the board and then box those two with the 6 in the exacta. Making a Marc (2) has hit the board in 5 of 6 starts to date, but may just love to run behind the winner. Air Strike is the win/place/show bet, running for the barn of Steve Asmussen. Nice work over this track on July 12, and has faced some good ones in the first two races. Include Mr. Macfadden (6) for the 12-1 odds, with Corey Lanerie up.

7th: 5-1-7-9-4-3-2…Really a nice MSW event over the grass, and I will go with the first time starter Sense of War (5), who hails from the barn of Norm Casse. This one is training very well and the kid can get them ready for the first out so far in his young career. Work on July 13 is worth noting and this one is out of a Stakes Winning Lemon Drop Kid mare. My choice. I bet the 5 to win/place/show and then key over/under all the other numbers in the exacta.

8th: Good Lord Stakes…8-7-5-4-2-1… I will go with Majestic Affair (8) on top in this nice Stakes event. This one has won two of the last three and gets a top rider in the saddle. Likes to press the pace, but has the ability, off the last work on July 15. Since joining the barn of Brad Cox, this one has been a different looking horse. May show to be the best in this one. Ran third to Majestic Harbor in the G2 Alysheba in 2016. Back class, too. Control Stake (7) will get the services of Lanerie, again. Has hit the board in four in a row and six of the last seven. Has 5 seconds in that span. So, bet to place, right? Concord Fast (5) and He’s Munnie (4) both warrant a serious look in her, too. I bet the 8 to win/place/show and then box the top 3 in one exacta. I box the 8-7-4 in another one, too.

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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