McLean’s Selections for Saratoga, Del Mar On Wednesday, July 25

Day Results1-1-0-0
2018 Overall 1022378-376-449
Win % of Top Pick37.20%
Payoff % of Top 3 Picks Overall39.40%

We only had one tout, one wager and one winner on the sheet for Tuesday. Wonder Gadot put on a “Wonder Woman” performance at Fort Erie in capturing the second leg of the Canadian Triple Crown in the Prince of Wales Stakes.

Today, we get back to the wonders of both Saratoga and Del Mar. Here is a closer look at those two cards:

Saratoga Race Course:

6th: 4-5-6-2-3-1…Perfect Miss (4) is a 3YO filly by Discreet Cat, and is coming into this one off a gate-to-wire win in her last start at Belmont Park on June 24. In five career starts to date, she has two wins and a second to show for her efforts. The trainer is hitting at a .24% rate in 356 outs this year, and also wins at a .25% clip  with those that are making the third start off a layup. Two starts back — and in the first start of this year — this one tired badly in the slop in the G3 Ms. Preakness Stakes. The only two bad races in this one’s career have come on an off track. If the rains show up in NY today, delete this number and go to the next in line. But if the track is fast, this one can run. Pray for Leslie (5) is a perfect 2-for-2 in her career, and the daughter of Bernardini has done both of them in style — from gate to wire. This race is stuffed from pillar to post with speedy types, but this one has been 6.5 furlongs in both the first two tries. Should be plenty fit enough for this one. Come Dancing (6) has not been out since Jan. 15, when she was seen running in a Stakes event at Aqueduct. Didn’t fare well in that one, tiring badly the second half of a 7-furlong try. But the first two runs were dynamic and the trainer has this one razor sharp, too, off the work here on July 22. Trainer does NOT do so well with horses off a layup, though, winning with only .04% of the 52 to fit the category. I bet the 4 to win/place/show and then key the 4 over/under the 5-6-2. I key the 4-5 over the 3-1.

7th: 5-6-11-1-10-8-4-9…Sweet Connie Girl (5) comes from the barn of Chad Brown, who is winning with .35% of his 20 horses to take the saddle so far this meet. This one ran fourth last time out, which was May 25 at Belmont, but looks to be training good for the return, and the race two back was very solid. This daughter of Lemon Drop Kid comes from a mare who who one turf winner from three starters, with 3 wins to date. The rider has teamed up with this barn to post a 5-1-2 record over the last two weeks. Hollywood Cat (6) is the 2-1 ML favorite, and looks to be the one to beat. She was claimed last time out on May 31, and this trainer scores with an amazing .41% of those racing for the new barn for the first time after the purchase. This one likes to close off a stalking position, and gets a huge rider switch to Iran Ortiz, Jr. NY-bred is facing Open Company, and that makes me a bit timid in full support of this one. Codrington (11) is a NY-bred, who was claimed last time out by Mike Maker. He hits with .17% on the first start after a purchase, and this one figures to be stalking the pace in the second tier. Gets a huge rider switch, as well, and looks to have a solid chance if she can duplicate the run of the last two times. I bet the 5 to win/place/show and then key the 5 over/under the 6-11-1-10. I play the 5-6 over the 8-4-9. 

9th: 6-5-1-2-3…G2 Honorable Miss Handicap…My Best Bet of the Day comes right here in the form of Finley’sluckycharm (6), who is the 8-5 ML favorite in a star-studded, limited field of files and mares. This one has not been out since running over a wet-fast track on KY Derby Day at Churchill Downs. She tired in that one and ran fourth. But that was the second start off a layup, and she might have bounced off a stellar win at Keeneland in the G1 Madison Stakes on April 7. Was on a fast track that day and held off some real good ones, although going 7 furlongs. Shortens up to a distance where she has a 6-1-0 record in 7 starts at the distance. She ran second in this very same Stakes event her a year ago, losing by just a neck to Paulassilverlining. That one was dynamite at the time. I love the works of late, and this one is salty as the day is long. Faypien (5) really caught fire in the G3 Intercontinental Stakes at Belmont Park in the last start — with was her first try ever on the grass. Gets back to the dirt today, where she has a 4-2-1 record in 9 starts to date. Gets a huge rider switch for this one today, and the trainer scores with .20% of those switching from the sod back to the dirt. Vertical Oak (1) got burned up in the early fractions of the Roxelana Stakes at Churchill Downs on June 23. Went :211/5, :442/5, and :563/5 in that one. Had nothing left at the wire. With a more sensible pace today from the rider, this one could be very tough from the rail — which is winning at an .18% clip this meet. Trainer scores with .25% of those returning as a beaten favorite. Chalon (2) is equally as tough. comes in off a 4-length win in the Regret Stakes at Monmouth Park, and was second in the G3 Vagrancy Stakes at Belmont Park before that. Another speedy type in a race full of them. I bet the 6 to win/place/show and then key the 6 over/under the other numbers listed.

Del Mar Race Course:

4th: 7-5-6-1…A pretty nice allowance, optional-claimer here, right? After all, when was the last time you saw a Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint Champion in one of these? But that’s what we have right here. Stormy Liberal (7) captured the BC Turf Sprint over this very same course last November when Joel Rosario booted him home to a head victory over Richard’s Boy and Disco Partner. He has not won in four starts since then, but he does have a second this February in the G3 Daytona, and a second over at Dubai. He got back to American racing on June 9 in the G2 Jaipur Stakes at Belmont Park. Ran behind Disco Partner that day, beaten by two lengths, but the winner dominates that grass course. No shame there. Love the recent works at San Luis Rey. Gets a new rider today, and he is red hot with 6 winners from the first 19 starters this meet. The pick. Tribalist (3) will be making his first start since New Year’s Day, but the trainer hits with .24% of those making the comeback. And this one is a perfect 3-for-3 at this distance and over this course. Had a 1-1-1 record in only three starts last year. Looks fit enough for this one. Home course. Adens Dream (6) gets the HOFer Gary Stevens in the saddle, and he won with a huge long shot when last seen here over the weekend. This one is a speed burner, as well, and had a supreme work over this track on July 19. I can’t totally dismiss, and love the 8-1 ML odds. I bet the 7 to win/place/show and then key the 7 over/under all the other numbers listed in the exactas.

7th: 4-2-1-7-6-8-G3 Cougar II Handicap…Hoppertunity (4) is the best horse in the field, so it is hard for me not to put this one on top. He has run twice at this distance, and has won each. The last came two races back in the G2 Brooklyn Stakes at Belmont on June 9. Completely dominated that field — which included War Story. Won easier four back at this distance in the G3 Tokyo City at Santa Anita. So…what’s the issue? The problem is that this son of Any Given Saturday simply does not like this racetrack. he is 0-for-3 lifetime over it, and has not ever hit the board. The fact can’t be ignored, especially when you consider that this one is 6-5 ML odds and likely to be odds-on favorite. So…what to do? Great question. The rest of the field simply does not match up on paper. The “Hot Horse” appears to be Unapologetic (2), who has won the last two and looks to be the best he’s ever been. But he has “Money Mike” Smith in the saddle, and is likely to get bet down lower than his 4-1 ML odds, and the value then looks less than what it should be. The horse that has faced the best company, outside of the top choice, seems to be Prince of Arabia (7). But the one time at anything close to this distance on the dirt, and he stumbled home 14 lengths in arrears. Beach View (8) looks better on the turf. And, Twentytwentyvision (1) is 0-for-11 over the lsat two years. So…I bet the 4 to win/place and then key the 4 over the “all button.” Quit trying to outthink them, Gene. Go with the best horse, right?

Good Luck & All the Best/Gene

It still depends on when he gets ready,” said David Fiske, racing manager for Winchell Thoroughbreds, which campaigns Copper Bullet with Willis Horton. “If he doesn’t get ready before the preps stretch out, chances are we aren’t going to break him out in a mile-and-an-eighth Grade 1.

“It’s possible we might miss the Derby and try the Preakness — something like that. It’s still all up in the air. It depends on if he stays healthy and continues to train how he’s training.”

Reported by top Thoroughbred writer and reporter Jonathan Lintner at horseracingnation.com.

David Fiske, racing manager for Winchell Thoroughbreds, who owns Copper Bullet with Willis Horton, on the 3YO’s next race and Road to the Kentucky Derby
  • 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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