Day Results 9 / 4-1-4
2020 Overall 960 960 / 337-316-387
Win % of Top Pick 35.10%
Payoff % of Top 3 Picks Overall 36.11%
2020 Top Pick in the Money –615-960 64.06%
Top Selection ITM / SAR 41-66 62.12%
Top Selection Win / SAR 22-66 33.33%
Top Selection ITM / Ellis Park 57-83 68.67%
Top Selections Win / Ellis Park 27-83 32.53%
“Key Horses” @ SAR 10-3-1-1 30.00% Win / 50.00% ITM
“Key Horses” @ Ellis Park 10/3-4-1 30.00% Win / 80.00% ITM
“Key Horses” in 2020 128-43-28-18 33.59% Win / 69.53% ITM

It is a big day in the McLean household.

First and foremost, it is grandson Ford’s 6th birthday. Happy birthday to one of the best little guys ever. Love the sweetness. Love the laughs. Love the brilliant yellow hair. Love the boy.

Just a few weeks ago, his mom and dad brought him and his brother, Jack, to the Lake. We had a blast. But we got to order his birthday presents, too. He loves Legos. We ordered a bunch. I hope he has the greatest day ever. Ever.

Secondly, and it is a distant second on this Saturday, it is Traver’s Day. To bad we can’t have fans in the stands for one of the greatest days in American Thoroughbred racing. It is grand.

But there will be racing and for the first time the G1 Travers — to be contested at 11/4 miles — will be a “prep” for the 146th Kentucky Derby, to be held on the first “Saturday in September.” Wow. Hard to type that out.

It is a great race. It is a great card. Let’s go celebrate. All.

Here’s a look at Ford:

(Ford, on the left and with fists held high, scored a goal — Pre-Covid, Andy. He celebrated. I loved it.)

Here’s a look at Saratoga today:

1st: 6-5-4/3-2B/2-1-1A…The Angry Man (6) gets the nod here. Has run two straight 2nd and the winner of the race two back came right back to win the next time out. New rider today is a guy who has ridden before. Dam is a Stakes winner, and has produced two turf winners from three starters. Looks ready today. Compliant (5) comes from the Chad Brown barn and returns as a beaten favorite. Barn wins with .29% of those kind. Like the last work and should be ready for the 2020 debut. Barn wins with nearly .30% of those coming off this kind of a layup. Bay Street Money (4) is a deep closer and will be treated with Lasix for the first time today. Barn hits with .20% of those getting the anti-bleeder for the first time. Like the work on Aug. 2. Looks  dangerous here. I bet the 6-4 across the board and then box the top 3 in the exacta. 

2nd: 6-1-3/1A-4/5…Creative Style (6) could produce the second straight “6” winner here. This one drops form the $40,000 tag down another notch and goes from a sprint to a route. Distance could be this one’s friend. At this track, he has a win and a third in two previous runs. Will be coming late. Lil Commissioner (1) is the ML favorite and likely to be even-money by PT. Moves up in class today after back-to-back wins for a barn that has won with .24% of 90 starters this year. This is a Florida-bred and may find today’s waters a little deeper. Vulnerable? Shalako (3) is another moving up in class and this 7YO gelding is coming off a win. Will be the 2nd start off a layup, and the barn wins with .24% of those. Rider is red hot and has won with .23% of his mounts this meet. At the distance? Only 1-of-4. Hmmm. I bet the 6 to win/place/show and then b ox the top 3 in the exacta.

3rd: 3-9-(12)/4-8-(11)-(13)/7-5-10/1-6…Risky Mischief (3) is a 3YO filly by Into Mischief and will be moving to the grass for the first time. This barn wins with .12% of those. Ran well in Stakes company last time out and should find the company a little easier to tackle today. Rider is 11-6-6 in the last 40 rides. Hmmm. Light in the Sky (9) is the ML favorite and is coming off two straight 2nd place finishes for a barn that wins with a whopping .35% with beaten favs returning to the fray. Will be the 3rd start off a layup, too, and the trainer wins with .26% of those. The one to beat. I bet the 3 across the board and then box the top 3 numbers. I will key the 3-9 over/under all the numbers listed in two shorter versions.

4th: 2-5-8/(1)-(1A)-(6)/3-10/4-9/7…Sliding Spring (2) gets a nice class drop for this one and picks up a really handy jockey for the first time. In 11 starts at this distance, the 7YO gelding has a 3-2-2 mark and has 2 thirds in only 2 tries here before. Has a nice stalking speed and the lower ranks should elevate his game today. Hieroglyphics (5) is the ML favorite and will be dropping in class here, too. In 5 previous runs here, he has 2 wins and has a 3-2-1 mark in 10 starts at this distance. Gets a huge, huge rider switch today and should be the one to beat. Golden Spear (8) has a win over this course and is a legit closer in this group. Ran well last time out in the 2020 debut. Should be fitter today. Chance. I bet the 2-5 across the board and then box the top 3 in the exacta. I key the 2-5 over/under the rest of the numbers listed in two shorter units.

5th: 5-7-6/2/3-1…Guana Cay (5) is a 2YO filly by Air Force Blue and moves to the dirt for the first time today for trainer Wesley Ward — who is winning at a .24% clip after 21 starts her this meet. Ran well as the beaten favorite last time out. Barn wins with .31% of those getting this surface switch. Should be tough at a nice price here. Mutasaabeq (7) is even-money going into this one and is a first-timer starter. Connections paid $425,000 for this one as a weanling. Barn hits with .23% of those making the debut and this one has been working lights out in the a.m. The clocker’s choice. Bottle Rocket Man (6) is a first timer for the barn of Chad Brown. Another who is working well for the debut and the barn hits with .26% in the MSW ranks. Gets a HOF rider up and is another by Into Mischief. Chance. I bet the 5 to win/place/show and then box the top 3 in the exacta. I will key the top 3 over/under the 2 in two shorter units.

6th: 3-8-2/1/6-10/4-9/(11)-(12)…American Monarch (3) is a 2YO son of American Pharoah and will be making the career debut. Barn normally does NOT have them cranked to full tilt for the debut, but this one is working so well that it and he is hard to ignore. Breaks well? Likely to run that way, too. Incitatus (8) is my first Upset Special of the Day. This 2YO son of Ironicus ran a deceivingly good race while 7th on debut at KEE. Now, stretches out to a distance where he should be more comfortable and gets a nice rider switch, too. Look out here. Pivotal Mission (2) could be another to move up on the second career start. Ran 11/16-miles in the debut. Tough distance to begin the career. Ran OK, too. Should be fitter and the barn wins with .19% on the 2nd try. Chance. I bet the 3-8 across the board and then box the top 3 in the exacta. I key the 3-8 over/under all the numbers listed in two smaller units.

7th: 1-7-6/4/2-5-3…G1 Ballerina Stakes…My first Key Play of the Day comes right here with one of my favorite horses and fillies of all time — Serengeti Empress (1). I think that she should love and relish the cut-back to 7 furlongs. Should love the rail, too. Gets a new rider and that should help immensely, IMO. Gate opens. She runs. As fast and as far as she can. And, despite what one may think, she is all guts, too. I think she wins today at a square price. I bet the 1 to win/place/show and then box the top 3 in the exacta. I will key the 1 over/under all the numbers listed in two more.

8th: 4-1/5-7/2-3-6…G3 Troy Stakes…This is a 5.5-furlong sprint specialty race over the sod and I will go with Skekky Shebaz (4) in a slight upset. This 5YO has run over this course twice before. Won both. He has run at this distance 7 times and has 3 wins and 2 thirds. The barn is on red-hot status and the rider up today is the sport’s best right now. Adds up for me. Imprimis (1) is the ML favorite and probably the one to beat. But he has not run since the Breeders’ Cup last November and although the works suggest he is ready, he got no bargains with the rail. This guy is a closer. Could be trapped from the get-go. I bet the 4 to win/place/show and I go rather stern in that conviction. I will key the 4 over/under all the numbers listed and then again with the “all button.” I’m all in with the 4 here.

9th: 5-1-4/6/7-2…G3 Waya Stakes…This is a 11/2-mile endurance test to be contested over the inner turf course andI will saddle up with Olympic Games (5). This 4YO filly has run twice in this country and twice this year after being shipped over from Italy and France. Has two nice seconds in Stakes company. Now, she is moved up to the Graded Stakes  variety. Trainer and Jockey have combined to go 2-1-1 in the last 8 starts together and this one looks to be coming with a serious run late. Needs racing room. Rider has a way of finding it or making it. Mrs. Sippy (1) is the ML favorite and has a win in only previous try over this surface. Training well. But this is the first start for this one after an eventful and tough race in the Breeders’ Cup last November. Barn can get them ready off the bench, but this deep, deep closer may need one, too. My Sister Nat (4) comes form the barn of Chad Brown. It’s turf. It’s Graded Stakes. It’s Brown time. Normally. I bet the 5-4 across the board and then box the top 3 in the exacta. I will key the top 3 over/under the 6 in two smaller units.

10th: 5/6/4-1-3/2…G1 Test Stakes…Gamine. Gamine. Gamine. Gamine. Gamine (5). If the connections would run her in the KY Derby this year, I would bet her then, too. Just get out of the way and let the girl run. Show time. I bet the 5 to win. Just for kicks. And, single her in all the horizontal plays. Monster.

11th: 3/6-4-8-5/2-7/1…G1 Travers Stakes…Uncle Chuck (3) is big. Is strong. Is fast. Is trained by Bob Baffert. And, is new to Saratoga after winning the G3 Los Alamitos Derby by a whopping and easy 4 lengths over Thousand Words — who just beat Honor A.P. in the Shared Belief. I know. I know. I know. Tiz the Law (6) is in this race. And, I don’t care. I go with 3 on top. I also love Max Player (4) and South Bend (8) to, maybe, cut into the place, show action. The former is getting better and better and could love the distance today. South Bend is new to the barn of trainer Bill Mott. Worked great for this one and has a 3-1-0 record in just 5 starts over a fast dirt track. The race that impresses me is the second to Field Pass over the sod. Field Pass is a legit runner. Legit. I bet the 3 to win/place and the 3 over/under all the numbers listed. I take a small W-P-S wager on both 4-8, too.

12th: 3-2-9/6-5/1-7-8…The finale is a MSW race only for the NY-breds. I go with Blitchton Lady (3) here. This one ran 2nd over the slop in the 2020 debut and first start in 14 months. Winner of that one came right back to win the next out, too. This one should be better today and gets a new rider that I like. Could pop at a price. Munificent (2) is a daughter of Uncle Mo and has the breeding edge on most of these. Barn has two wins already this meet and the new jockey should help here. Bankers Beast (9) goes for a barn that wins with .21% of those making the 2nd career start. Look for more today. I bet the 3-9 across the board and then box the top 3 in the exacta. I key the 3-9 over/under the rest of the numbers in two smaller units.

Good Luck & All the Best / Gene