Fully Updated: McLean’s Selections For Saratoga, Ellis Park, Del Mar, and Arlington Park on Saturday, July 21

Day Results9-3-4-5
2018 Overall 980364-364-430
Win % of Top Pick37.20%
Payoff % of Top 3 Picks Overall39.40%

Let’s get right to it, shall we. What a day of racing all over the country. And, we have some good selections that may render some nice payoffs today. We are going to have abbreviated comments so that we can squeeze in as many races as possible.


2nd…8-3-1-9…Digital Footprint (8) is a first time starter for the barn of Chad Brown, who hits with .19% of those making the career debut on the sod. This one is out of a Lemon Drop Kid mare, who was a winner, and should be able to throw grass runners. He has some nice works to indicate that he can run some, and the world’s hottest trainer of grass horses. This one cost $190,000 as a Keeneland September yearling. Horse to beat just may be Johny’s Bobby (3), who is 6-1 ML odds. I like the breeding here, being by Hard Spun (a son of Danzig) and out of a Bernstein mare. This broodmare sire could have been a real good one on the dam side if not for dying way too soon. Should like conversion to the grass today. I would bet the 8 and box the top 3 in the exacta.

3rd…3-4-5-1…One of the my first Bets of the Day comes right here with Awesome Slew (3), who is likely to be the PT favorite. This 5YO horse drew a clunker in the G1 Met Mile, but was up against some of the best in the world that day and he was 8-wide coming down the lane. Go back two races and this one lost by a neck to Limousine Liberal, who ran a huge one in his last Stakes win. If Awesome Slew can duplicate that performance, then he may just dust a nice group in here. I bet the 3 to win/place and then key the 3 over/under the 4-5-1.

4th…6-3-5-4-2…Plans to Prosper (6) gets my top pick here after really running well in the last two. Nearly got the job done last time out with the blinkers on for the first time. Daughter of Kitten’s Joy seems to have figured some things out, but will go much farther today and that is a bit of a concern after she tired going shorter in the last. Agreeable (3) goes for a meticulous trainer who normally takes his time getting them race fit and ready. this will be the fifth career start and the third on the grass. The last two have been right there and the stretch out should help this one. I like the rider switch here, too. My bet. Gentle Ruler (5) will get the saddle from good friend Ian Wilkes. Has 2 seconds and 2 thirds in the first 7 outs, and should be closing late in this one. Trainer hits with .18% with the third start off a layup of this kind, and she has worked OK for this one. The dam has 4 turf winners to date, out of 6 starters. They have totaled 5 wins, with one SW, too. I bet the 3 to win/place/show and then box the top 3 in the exacta.

6th…2-10-8-6-3-5…Another Best Bet of the Day comes right here with the second time starter Nitrous (2). Got a horrible start in the career debut and came running late to nearly get the win. The winner of that one is nice. Very nice. This son of Tapit should be awfully tough to catch with a clean break today, and I’m betting that he doesn’t get caught at all. I bet the 2 to win/place and then key the 2 over the 10-8-6 strong, and the 3-5 lighter.

7th…1-7-8-2-4…Could be another single right here, with Call Provision (1), who comes from the Chad Brown barn. This 5YO gelded son of Lemon Drop Kid has raced 4 times at Saratoga to date, with 2 wins and a second. He is coming out of a tough-beat second — losing by a closing neck — at Belmont Park on June 24 at this very distance. Should be rolling late, and the trainer hits with .29% of those returning for the first time after beaten as the favorite. I bet the 1 to win/place and then key the 1 over/under the 7-8-2-4.

8th…3-10-6-4-5-2…I will focus on the top 3 numbers in this sequence, led by Really Proud (3). This Kitten’s Joy filly has raced three times at this specialty turf sprint distance and has a win, a second and a third. Stretched out to 6 furlongs the last time and ran a tiring fourth. Should appreciate the cut back in distance today. Hot rider stays aboard, and he has 4 wins and a second in the last 6 starts going into Friday’s card. Battle Joined (10) did not get any breaks with the far outside post, but is coming out of a MSW win where she showed a lot of class on the front end. Will need the same kind of break today when facing winners for the first time. Should add some value to the exotics if she can land in the money. Huge rider switch for a barn having a good year. This one only cost $500,000 as a Keeneland September Yearling. Conquest Tizfire (6) just may be the horse to beat in this affair. The 5YO daughter of Tiznow has hit the board in 7 of 8 lifetime starts and gets back to the grass for this one today, where she has done her best running for sure. Will want to be either on, or very close to the lead and the rider is a HOFer. Nice works down at Fair Hill for this one. I bet the 3-10 across the board and then box those two solidly in this spot. I key those two over/under the rest of the numbers in two more exactas of a lighter variety.

9th…8-1-2-7-4…G3 Sanford Stakes…The top pick in this one will be Strike Silver (8), if Nitrous runs as big as I think he will earlier in the card. Those two are stone cold runners, and Mark Casse has already won a Graded Stakes race here this meet in the Schuylerville on Friday. This one is pure gas, and should like the outside post to cut, clear, and then, possibly, coast. Sombeyay (1) and Lexitonian (2) both come from the barn of Todd Pletcher, who hits with .27% with his 2YOs. Both of these can really run and the former nearly captured the Tremont Stakes at Belmont Park in his last start. If not for a stumble to begin that one, he may have been the one on top at the wire. Won his debut by over 6. The rail post hit at .18% at this distance a year ago. And, don’t leave out Bano Solo (7). This one cost $400,000 earlier this year at a 2YO In-Training Sale and was easy money on debut at Churchill Downs on June 23. Looks the part. I bet the 8-7 across the board and then box the 8-1-7 in the exacta.

10th….2-1-7-6-3…G1 Diana Stakes…I am going with an upset in this spot, and will key on Proctor’s Ledge (2). This 4YO daughter of Ghostzapper ran a huge, tough-beat second to A Raving Beauty (6) in the G1 Just a Game Stakes last time out at Belmont Park. But there is an 8-pound swing in the weight assignments from that race to this one, and I think that with a good run from the new rider that this one can absolutely turn the tables late today. The Chad Brown contingency will be formidable, but I am going with the 2 to win/place/show and then key the 2 over/under all the other numbers listed.

Ellis Park (coming soon):

3rd…5-7-6-1-2…Mr. Money (5) could be exactly that in this spot today. My Tout of the Day at Ellis Park. This son of Goldenscents has been training lights out at Churchill Downs and will now make his racing debut for Allied Racing Stable. The sire wins first time out at a 16% clip and the dam has one winner from one starter. Love the work on July 14. Watch out. If I get 2-1 ML odds, I will pounce. I bet the 5 to win/place/show and then key the 5 over/under the other numbers listed.

5th…3-4-2…Kristizar (3) is 8-5 ML odds, and probably drop even lower, but this daughter of Tapizar ran off to a 51/4 length victory here on Opening Day, and looked every bit as good as it appears on paper. Should handle this group just as easily. With one exception. Profound Legacy (4) is trained by Ian Wilkes after a private purchase that moved this one from Washington to KY. The work at Churchill Downs on July 17 was massive. Watch out here. Could be a sleeper. I bet the 4 — better odds probably — to win/place and then hammer the 3-4 exacta. I will play one 3-4-2 box just in case of a split.

6th…6…Wish I had more time today, because I would have put the team together to claim Attaining (6). Don’t know about the bet. Probably will bet her. But the sire power in this family is very nice and the dam is Stakes Placed.

7th…3-7-4-1-6…Angel of Mischief (3) is a first timer for the barn of young Norm Casse. Working lights out for the inaugural run today, and the dam has one winner from 3 previous starters. Jockey is red hot on the return to the saddle. This one just adds up. Mrs Howell (7) may add some spice to the exotics. She comes from a barn that wins with .15% first timers, and has some very nice works at Keeneland (July 7). I bet the 3-7 across the board and then box the top 3 numbers in the exacta.

8th…2-7-5-3-4…A key race for me with Don’t Tell Marge (2). A stone cold runner from the barn of Neil Howard, and she has two nice ones in row since switching over to the grass course. Has the breeding for that surface and the jockey is back riding well again after winning the rider’s title at Churchill Downs this summer. Adds up to a huge one here. I bet the 2 to win/place and then key the 2 over/under the rest. 

9th…3-9-10-11-12-1-4-8…While I will probably use the top two numbers in this grouping to key with and off of, I really love Ninth Street (3) in this spot. This one ran a solid second to Bano Solo — who is running in the Sanford Stakes at Saratoga this afternoon. If that one runs well (keep an eye on the Sanford at Saratoga), then I think you can bet with some confidence here. The one to beat is Super Shot (9), who comes from the barn of Brad Cox. Working lights out for the career debut. As in lights out. I bet the 3-9 across the board and then hammer lock those two in the exacta. I may try those two over the rest in a smaller saver version.

Del Mar:

3rd: 5-6-7-3-4…I’m going with an upset in this event with Conqueror (5), at 6-1 ML odds, on top. This one needed more ground than last time out, and he will get an extra 1/2 furlong in this one today. Has a win in one start over this track and one second in only one try at the 6.5 furlongs. Go back earlier this year and this one had a nice string of races put together. The grass race is a throw out, and now looks like a return to form. Horse Greedy (6) ran a huge one against American Anthem in the San Carlos Stakes last time out. Will shorten back cup a bit today for a trainer who is hitting at a .13% clip in 253 starters this year. I think a bit vulnerable in this spot. I bet the 5 to win/place/show and then box the top 3 numbers in the exacta.

4th: 6-9-7-3-10-8-1-2…I will key on Vasilika (6), who is 6-5 ML choice in this spot. This one comes form the red hot barn of Jerry Hollendorfer, who has a 4-1-0 record in 8 starts this meet. This one has four wins in a row and 6 out of the last 7. Ran off last time out and can do it again today. I bet the 6 to win/place and then key the 6 over/under the 9-7-3-10. I key the 6 over the 8-1-2 only in a smaller version.

5th… 6-2-4-5-9-3-1…Mason Dixon (6) is an 8-1 shot in the ML, but goes for the hot barn of Doug O’Neill, who already has 4 wins this meet, as well. This is a first timer for a barn that hits with .12% of those making the initial start. Has been training OK and gets Flavien Prat in the saddle. It’s Gonna Hurt (2) cost $80,000 as a 2YO in training earlier this year, and has been brilliant in the morning since arriving on the West Coast. Trainer only scores with .07% of those making the debut, though. Fortnite Dance (4) goes for a trainer that hits with .22% of those making the debut, and .25% of those doing so in the MCL ranks. This one comes from a dam who has one winner from two starters already. This appears to be a wide open affair, and I spread out here dramatically. I bet the 6 to win/place/show in a timid approach, and then box the 6-2-4 in one exacta. and then the 6-2-5 in another. 

6th…4-3-6-5-11-1-2-9…Another race where I think it is best to spread out. I focus on the top three numbers in this sequence, led by Libby’s Tail (4), another who will be ridden by Prat. This one nearly won the last time out, and the trainer hits with .18% of those making the third start off a layup. Love the work on July 17 here, and looks ready for this try. Meal Ticket (3) showed speed last time out after rallying from well off the pace two back. Both of those ended up as wins, though, and shows versatility. I use both Goseecal (6), with Gary Stevens up, and Vexatious (5), trained by Neil Drysdale, in here, as well. I bet the 4 to win/place/show and then box the 4-3-6 in one exacta, and the 4-3-5 in another.

7th…9-1-10-2…G2 San Diego Handicap…I will go outside here and grab a horse that I have loved since the day he stepped on the track — Dabster (9). With the scratch of Accelerate (7), it makes this one more wide open, for sure. This one didn’t have much of a chance against American Anthem last time out, and now will get to stretch out to a better distance for him. That race could prove useful from a stamina aspect, though, and I love the way this one will fight to the wire. Gets in here at 8-1 odds. My Upset Special at Del Mar. I bet the 9 to win/place/show and then key the 9 over/under all the others. 

8th…2-4-10-8-14-12-9-11-13-5…G2 San Clemente Stakes…I will key on Ms. Bad Behavior (2) in this one today. This is another one that has been on my HTW list for quite some time. And, she should relish this distance today, where she is a perfect 1-for-1. Comes out of a race that looked like she would win , until tiring very late. Got a break since that one on April 7, and the trainer hits with .16% of those returning from that kind of layup. In four grass races to date, she has two wins and two seconds. Hard to get much better. I key the 2 to win/place/show and then key the 2 over/under the 4-10-8-12-14. I key the 2 over (only) the 9-11-13-5. 

9th…10-9-8-7-4-3-2…Rowayton (10) is supposed to be a freak. Cost $320,000 as a yearling. Work on July 13 makes this one look like a bargain at that price. I’m doing myself a favor and jumping all over this 2YO colt. I bet the 10 to win/place/show and then key the 10 over/under the numbers listed.

Arlington Park:

1st…3-7-6-1-2…My Best Bet of the Day at Arlington Park comes right here in the first race of the day with Enzoexpress (3). This one comes from the barn of Larry Rivelli, who is winning at a .30% clip here this meet with nearly 130 runners. He is hitting with .32% on the all weather surfaces total, and the dam of this colt is a perfect 1 winner from 1 starter — with one Stakes Winner. This one cost $155,000 as a 2YO this year and had a super nice work here on July 9. Looks like he is ready to score at first ask. I bet the 3 to win/place and then key the 3 over/under the other numbers listed.

5th…2-8-6-7-1-3-4-5…I will key on the first two numbers in this grass event, led by Malraux (2). This 4YO colt by Speightstown is coming off the first start of the year just 15 days ago. Tired late in that one and finished fourth. But was beaten only 1/2 length for it all. The trainer hits with only .06% on the second start off the layup, but this one certainly looks ready, if the earlier race may him more fit and didn’t take too much out. New rider today is the leading jockey in the State. That should really help in this spot. Good Bye Greg (8) comes from the Rivelli barn, but loses the rider to the top choice. This one has not started since running in the Damascus Stakes at Del Mar last November right before the Breeders’ Cup. Gets back to the grass for only the second time in his long career. Interesting move. I bet the 2 to win/place/show and then key the 2 over/under all the numbers listed. I go more on the 8-6-7-1.

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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