McLean’s Selections for the Fair Grounds on Friday, Dec. 7

Day Results9-7-4-5
2018 Overall 1844686-658-814
Win % of Top Pick37.20%
Payoff % of Top 3 Picks Overall39.00%
Top Selection ITM / FG Nov-Mar 34-4673.91%
Top Selection Win / FG Nov-Mar 25-4654.35%
“Key Horses” @ FG Nov-Mar 10-8-2-080.00%

What a day we had on Thursday. Out of the 9 races carded, we had 7 winners. Seven. And, we scored exactas that returned $4.90, $21.20, $15.60, $14.70, and $20.80 for each $1 wagered.

So far this meet, we have been incredible. Seriously. Incredible. Our top pick has won 54.35% of the time (25 of 46) and our top pick has hit the board 73.91%. Our “Key Plays of the Day” have won 8 of the 10, with two seconds.

Let’s try to keep it rolling. Here’s a closer look at Friday’s 10-race card:

1st: 4-2/6/3-5…Silver Giant (4) is the 9-5 ML favorite and should be, based on his recent form. He has hit the board in each of the last three starts, and had a win up at Indy Grand two starts back. Ran well to be second last out over a muddy track at Churchill Downs against much better. Now, he returns to the bargain basement bin today and is reunited with a rider who was up three races ago. Has hit the board in 8 of 14 starts this year, and does have a win over this track. The pick. Bank On Andy (2) will return to the same level that he nearly won at here on Nov. 16. Tired to run second that day at odds-on favoritism. Trainer hits with .21% of those that are returning as a beaten favorite, and the apprentice gets the job back in the irons. Throw out the one turf try two races back, and this one is dong well right now. The winner of the race three back came right back to win again. A real threat. I bet the 4 to win/place and then box the 4-2 solidly in one exacta. I will key the 4-2 over/under the 6 and then key the 4-2-6 over the 3-5.

2nd: 10-9-4/8-5-1/2-6…I will go to the outside in this grass event, and give a slight edge to Previous Honor (10). This one won last time out, and the barn hits with .28% of those that are trying to win two in a row. Has been away since that last win on Oct. 17, but the trainer knows how to get them ready off the bench — winning with .26% of those returning from this type of a layup. Has hit the board in 28 of 45 tries at this distance. A veteran who looks like she still has it at age 9. Desert Image (9) was a claim for this barn two starts back. Bumped up in class last time out and ran OK, losing by less than 3 lengths. Has never hit the board in 5 starts here, which is a concern. But the barn hit with .20% of those making the second start off a claim, and with .23% of 451 starters this year. Like the 6-1 odds, too. Giagiajoe (4) will make the first start for a new training outfit. Will return today off a nice second. Has hit the board in five in a row and 9 of the last 10 outs. Has 4 wins in that mixture. Love the work at Delta Downs on Nov. 30, too. Gets a veteran rider to steady the reins here. I bet the 10-4 across the board and then box the top 3 in the exacta.

3rd: 2-6/1-3-7/4-5…He’s No Bully (2) will be dropping to a career low level today for this 6-furlong sprint over the dirt. Once ran for $15,000 and put up a third. Now, will go for $12,500, and figure to improve with the class drop. Rider is doing well so far this meet and loves to put them in the mix early. Look for improvement here today. Yakadaddy (6) gets the meet’s leading rider in the saddle once again. The barn is hitting with .31% of those making the second career start and this one should improve here off an eventful try on debut, when off slowly. If he can break a little cleaner, he may like this company. Barn scores with .33% of those running for a tag. I bet the 2 to win/place/show and then box the top 2 numbers in one exacta. I will key the 2-6 over/under the 1-3-7 in two smaller ones.

4th: 2/4-6-1-8/3-5…Princesschope (2) is a 3YO, French-bred filly that I touted last time out — when she was making the NA debut at Keeneland in October. Ran well before tiring in the late going of that 11/16-mile event — which was her first try since June. If she benefits from that exercise at all, she could be a tough out in this one today. Gets a great grass rider in the irons for the first time, and the works are solid. Barn hits with .30% of those making the second start for the new connections, and with .28% of those idle for this short time period. My first Key Play of the Day. I bet the 2 to win/place/show and then key the 2 over/under the 4-6-1-8 in two exactas. I will key the 2 over (only) the 3-5.

5th: 6-4/7/3-1…Release the Beast (6) will get the services of the meet’s top rider, in James Graham. He rode him last time out and the duo nearly picked off the win — losing by less than a length here on Nov. 18. This one was closing from well off the pace that day, but is normally a little bit closer to the front going. But if you look at the comment line in the PPs, you will see that he was “taken up” at the break. If he can set sail a little cleaner today, watch out. Whistling Wind (4) drops significantly to the bottom of the claiming ranks for this effort today. Barn hits with .25% of the last 40 that have made this kind of class plunge. Will convert back to the dirt today after two tries on the sod, and the barn hits with .18% of those making this surface conversion. I bet the 6 to win/place/show and then box the 6-4 solidly in one exacta. I will key the 6-4 over/under the 7 in two smaller versions, and then key the 6-4-7 over (only) the 3-1.

6th: 10-9-12/7-8-2-4/5-13-3-1-6…The third grass race carded in today’s 10-race schedule. I will go to the outside for all my top contenders in here, led by Gustnado (10). Trainer has won with .28% of the 1,454 horses he has started this year. And, he has won with .19% of the 876 grass runners. This one should love the drop in class after a solid third against much tougher last time out. Like the work here on Nov. 29, and gets a nice rider switch, too. A threat. Cortege (9) is 8-1 in the ML, and could spice up the exotics rack here. Drops significantly out of the last race, and was a winner just two back at Arlington Park — when running against tougher then, too. This one has 4 previous runs over this course, with a  second and a third. Likes to close from mid-pack and gets a fresh rider to test these waters. Potential upset here. Red Corvette (12) has not run that well of late — finishing no better than 5th in any of the last three outs. But if you go back to Sept. 1 at Arlington Park, this one nearly pulled off a nice win. Has a win over this track previously, and gets a nice rider switch, too. Watch for the odds board to move off the 5-1 ML posting. I bet the 10-12 across the board and then box the top 3 in one exacta. I will key the 10 over/under the 9-12-7-8-2-4 in two smaller versions.

7th: 6-5-1/4-3-8/2…Woman With a Book (6) will wheel right back at this same level today, after nearly winning this honor last time out here on Nov. 23. Came from nowhere to be second, and beaten just a nose. Will get the same apprentice in the irons, and will be equipped with blinkers for the first time. The barn hits with .13% of those getting the shades for the first time, and with .18% of those coming off a layup. He’s a Climber (5) is making a huge drop for the barn of J. Larry Jones, and should jump right into the mix of this one. Trainer hits with .26% of those in the MCL ranks, and this one has trained OK since the last race. Has a big chance here. Oro de Tejano (1) is a 2YO Munnings gelding who has not shown much at all in the first 5 races. Today is “telling day” for this one, though. Drops all the way from the MSW ranks to MCL $15,000. Gets the blinkers for the first time, and the barn hits with .18% of those. Trainer scores with .26% of those going from MSW to MCL. Take heed. I bet the 6-5 across the board and then box the top 3 numbers in one exacta. I will key the top 3 numbers over (only) the next 3 numbers in a smaller set.

8th: 10-9-8/4-11-6-2/3-1-7-5…Lake Local (10) will be making the career debut in this 5.5-furlong sprint over the grass. The barn hits with .19% of those making the career debut on the grass, and this one had a really nice move over this track on Dec. 2. Gets a top grass rider in the saddle, and looks poised here. Love the 5-1 odds. Ginny (9) ran well last time out and now has hit the board in 3 of the 6 lifetime starts to date. Has an experience edge over our top pick, and gets the meet’s leading rider back in the irons. Likes to run late, so will need an open spot or some luck. Winandyourin (8) will be going for trainer Mark Casse, who won this kind of race in spectacular form on Thursday with the filly named Philosophy. This one could match that performance with the move to the grass for the first time. Super work here on Nov. 30, and the rider has scored with 20% of the last 10 races for the conditioner. I bet the 10-8 across the board and then box the top 3 numbers in the exacta. I will key the 10 over/under the 9-8-4-11-6-2 in two smaller versions.

9th: 6-2-9/4-5/3-8-1…Charge the Line (6) comes from the barn of Tom Amoss, who has won 4 of the first 14 races he has saddled a horse. That figures out to a win percentage of a whopping .29%. This one is coming off a nice second, when he tired late. If he improves any off that performance, he should be tough against other state-breds here. My second Key Play of the Day. I bet the 6 to win/place/show and then box the top 3 in the exacta. I will key the 6 over/under the 2-9-4-5 in two smaller versions, and then key the 6 over (only) the 3-8-1.

10th: 8/5-3-4/9-6-1…Magic City Classic…This is a 1-mile Stakes event over the main track for Alabama-breds only. While Tua will be in New York to take down the Heisman (or so he should), this Stakes event has belonged to Buggin Out (8) for the last 4 years. The 7YO gelded son of Indy has won it each of the past 4 years. Can he make it 5? The answer is definitely yes. Had not raced since winning this race last December until October 27 at Delta Downs. Didn’t hit a lick in that one — against open company. But he did the same thing a year ago. Off from January to November. Ran poorly. Then won this race. In 2016, did the same thing, too. In 2015, he did win his prep before taking this race. Until they can figure out how to beat him, I still go with him. Gets Corey Lanerie up, too. My solid pick. Again.

Comments and my wagering strategy to come later.

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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