McLean’s Selections for the Fair Grounds on Friday, Feb. 1

Day Results9-3-5-3
2019 Overall 163163/53-61-79
Win % of Top Pick32.52%
Payoff % of Top 3 Picks Overall39.47%
2019 Top Pick in the Money –108 of 16366.26%
Top Selection ITM / FG Nov-Mar 235-34268.71%
Top Selection Win / FG Nov-Mar 126-34236.84%
“Key Horses” @ FG Nov-Mar 79-34-16-943.04%
“Key Horses” in 2019 52-18-9-634.62%

We were able to land three winners on the 9-race card at the Fair Grounds on Thursday, but we got the big one. In the fourth race, our Upset Special won and paid $45 to win for a $2 ticket. We hit the exacta in that race, as well, and that returned $187.70 for each $1 wagered.

That has a way of curing a lot of wrongs.

We are hoping for more today, which has temps in the mid to upper 50s and mostly cloudy skies. But, get this, no rain in the forecast for either today or a sunny Saturday.

Let’s go racing.

Here’s a closer look at today’s card:

1st: 3/(11)-7-9-(14)-(1A)/4-8…Let’s start off today’s activities — which start at 6 p.m. ET with a “Fun Night Program” — with our first Key Play of the Day. In this 5.5-furlong grass sprint exercise, we will go strong with Anytime Anyplace (3). This 7YO Any Given Saturday gelding has raced twice over the Fair Grounds grass to date, and has spotted a win and a third. Led nearly all the way before tiring late and finishing third here on Jan. 12. Now returns as the beaten favorite, and the barn hits with .22% of those. The two races before, he was able to finish the job on the front end. Good right now. I bet the 3 to win/place/show and then key the 3 over/under the 11-7-9-14-1A. I key the 3 over (only) the 4-8.

2nd: 3/1-2-4-7-(9)/8…The second race; the second time we go with the #3; and the second Key Play of the Day. This is another grass race, and will be contested at a mile. This time we single in on Canny (3). This 5YO Big Brown mare switches to a red-hot jock, who has won half of the last 8 mounts here this meet. This one looked to have dead aim on the win at $30,000 price tag last time out. Made the front only to give it back up late. Now, drops down to $15,000 and a career low spot. Has the speed to find a good spot early on. Should be able to finish the job at this level, and the barn hits with .26% of those that drop this far. I bet the 3 to win/place/show and then key the 3 over/under the 1-2-4-7-(9)-8.

3rd: 3-2-6-7/1/8-4-5…This race is a bit more wide open, but I will settle in on the “Holy Ghost.” If you have a number that wins (like the 3), and the same number wins again (like the 3), then I have to bet the 3, right? The Father. The Son. The Holy Ghost. Oh, well. It’s an old wive’s tale. Either way, I like the #3 — Crocodile Jacques (3) — in here good enough to go with him on top. The 3YO Lone Star colt, bred in LA, broke the maiden three starts back impressively. Ran off to a 71/4-length win. Has held his own in the move up in class, and now will stretch back out to the route distance that he won at. Barn hits with .20% of those gong from a sprint to a route, and with .30% of those going from two sprints in a row to a route. Gets the rider who booted this one home to victory back in the saddle. Adds up for me. I bet the 3 to win/place/show and then key the 3 over/under the 2-6-7-1. I made sure to use the #7 in the equation, too.

4th: 8-9-6/2-5-3-4/1…I’ll go to the outside in this 6-furlong sprint event over the main track, led by Mini Chunk (8). This 4YO gelded son of Tapizar has hit the board in 7 of the last 8 tries and has 4 wins in that mix. Could have had several more, since he has run second in each of the last three tries. Barn hits with .19% of those making the third start off the layup, and with .22% of those running in the claiming ranks. In 11 lifetime starts, has 4 wins and 3 seconds. Nice and consistent. I bet the 8 to win/place/show and then box the top 3 numbers in the exacta.

5th: 5-1/2-6/4-7…Wings Up (5) gets the edge in this MCL event. Was claimed last time out by a barn that hits with .26% of those making the first start after the purchase. This one was a beaten fav in that last race, as well, and the new barn scores with .23% of those kind, too. Has run well in each of the last two tries and now gets the meet’s top rider in the irons. My choice. I bet the 5 to win/place/show and then box the 5-1 solidly. I will key the 5-1 over/under the 2-6 in two smaller versions.

6th: 8/6-3/4-7…Hideaway Hero (8) is another Key Play of the Day for me. This 5YO gelding is dropping all the way from the $15,000 price range to the bargain bin and will convert from the grass course to the dirt. Should help in both regards. In three starts over a fast dirt surface, this one has a win and a third. Louisiana-bred has been running against open company here and in Florida. Last time he faced just State-bred, he was third here against much, much tougher. Barn hits with .14% of those making this kind of a class drop, too. I bet the 8 to win/place/show and then key the 8 over/under the 6-3-4-7.

7th: 3-6-4/5-1…This is another $5,000 claimer, but is free to open company that wish to sprint 6 furlongs over the main track. I will spread out a bit in this spot, and give a slight edge to Butta Got Uncs Bac (3). Don’t know the origin of the name, but this 5YO gelded son of Musket Man is the 9-5 ML favorite and will be dropping significantly in class today. Barn hits with .19% of those getting this type of a plunge. Ran for this level two back here in December, and than a nice second to a horse that came right back to win again next out. In 6 starts here, this one has a 2-1-2 record. I bet the 3 to win/place/show and then box the top 3 numbers in the exacta.

8th: 5-8-4/2-1…A Maiden-Claiming event for the Louisiana-Bred fillies and mares only, and I will go with Lookin Back At It (5). This one is dropping out of a MSW event where she was fifth. Pushed the pace in that one early. That was her first start in 13 months. Should improve off that exercise, and the barn hits with .20% of those dropping from the MSW ranks to MCL level. In debut race, she ran second at a $25,000 price tag. Lady Fitzgerald (8) has been on the turf in the last five outs. Has hit the board in the last three of those. If she can covert over to the main track today — and the barn hits with .17% of those making this surface switch — she may be mighty tough in this spot. I bet the 5-8 across the board and then box the top 3 numbers in the exacta.

9th: 4/5-3/6…Today’s finale may be the best Key Play of the Day, although there will be no odds on Memory Magic (4) in this spot. This one is the 4-5 ML favorite, and may sink as low as 1-9. Trained by Tom Amoss for the super owner Maggi Moss, this 4YO filly was claimed last time out for the $5,000 price tag. Led most of the way before faltering late in that one. Now, gets the meet’s top rider and the barn hits with .27% of first off the claim. Same connections used to own this one before and won with her at this level two races back by over 5 lengths. Looks the best by many in here. I bet the 4 to win (only) and key the 4 over the 5-3-6.

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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