McLean’s Selections for the Fair Grounds on Friday, Jan. 11

Day Results10-3-2-6
2019 Overall 4545/14-16-26
Win % of Top Pick31.11%
Payoff % of Top 3 Picks Overall41.48%
2019 Top Pick in the Money –28 of 4562.22%
Top Selection ITM / FG Nov-Mar 155-22469.20%
Top Selection Win / FG Nov-Mar 87-22438.84%
“Key Horses” @ FG Nov-Mar 44-21-9-447.73%
“Key Horses” in 2019 13-5-2-138.46%

We had a modest bit of success on Thursday, with three nice winners that returned $23.80, $23.00, and $13.20 for each $2 played across the board. We had exactas that returned $6.70, $25.00, $7.60, and $42.40 for each $1 played.

But we are looking for more. Starting Friday. Here’s a closer look at the card:

1st: 3-1-5/7/4-2-1A…Guilty Kitty (3) will get the saddle for the first time in the afternoon, and it will be for a claiming tag of $20,000. The barn hits with .23% of those in the maiden claiming ranks and comes into this one off a sharp half-mile work here on Jan. 5. Gets the barn’s top rider in the saddle, and the jockey has hit with .24% of the last 75 starts for this barn. Dam of this one is a SW, and has 4 winners from 6 starters. Adds up to me for the Asmussen barn. Highly Centsable (1) and Silver King (1A) come from the barn of Sam David, who won with .21% of 198 starters a year ago. The former has a start, but couldn’t finish too well. Barn hits with .31% of those making the second career start and with .33% of those making the drop into the MCL ranks. The latter has shown a little run in the a.m., and will be making the career debut today. Barn hits with .23% of those making the debut in the MCL ranks. Dangerous duo. Bertie’s Galaxy (5) will be making the debut, as well, for a barn that hit with 1-of-3 making the debut at the MCL level. Solid works of late, and the dam of this one has 4 winners from 5 starters. Chance. I bet the 3 to win/place/show and then box the top 3 numbers in the exacta. I will key the top 3 numbers over/under the 7 in two smaller ones.

2nd: 3-6/2-4-8/1-9-5…I will focus on the top 2 numbers in this sequence, led by Big Blue Magic (3). This is a 4YO filly by the grand sire Tiznow, and will be making the first start for a new barn after being claimed here last time out on Nov. 25. Ran second over the slop here in a 1-mile contest as the beaten favorite. Should improve with a return to the sod today, where she has a 2-2-1 record in 8 starts over the grass, and a 2-2-0 mark at this distance. Super work here on Jan. 4. Looks right. Pugilist (6) will get the saddle from the meet’s top trainer, and will get the services of one of the top grass riders in the world. Jockey has won with .28% of the last 18 rides for this barn. Will get back to the grass for the first time since he won on Oct. 12 at Indy Grand. In 4 starts on the grass, she has 2 wins, a second and a third. Nice. I bet the 3-6 across the board and then box those two solidly. I will key the 3-6 over/under the 2-4-8 in two smaller versions.

3rd: 7-3-5/2-8-6…This is a bargain bin level claimer for Louisiana-breds only, and I will spread out a bit in this leg. I give a slight edge to El Tristan (7), who will be making his first start under the care of talented young trainer John Ortiz. So far this meet, Ortiz has a 4-4-3 record in 25 starts and picked this one up for $5,000 last time out. Led most of that race before tiring at the end of the 1 mile event. Has the speed to contend from start to finish. Maddy’s Pro (3) will get a nice drop in class for this one after catching off tracks in the last two. If you go back to the summer, he was very solid and consistent. Had six finishes on the board in a row from Nov. 2017 to June 2018. I can toss the last race when he had to have a last minute shoe repair and then was eased and walked off during the race. Looks for a much better effort in here. Delaware Basin (5) is another dropping in class for this one. Trainer hits with .22% of those getting this big of a plunge over the last 54 starters to do so. Love the work here on Dec. 24, and the turf to dirt angle is a good one for this barn, as well. Has hit with .19% of those out of 160 runners to make this same surface switch. I bet the 7 to win/place/show and then box the top 3 numbers in the exacta.

4th: 4-(12)/5-6-9-7/2-11-3-8-1…This will be my first Key Play of the Day with Philosophy (4) making his first run since his impressive, blowout win here on Dec. 6 to break the maiden. Normally, I don’t like betting horses that are moving up to face winners for the first time. But this one was so impressive in winning the last out, that he could simply come back to dominate in this crowd, too. Ran off to a near 6-length win in the last — when we touted him then — and the son of Speightstown goes for a barn that scores with .17% of those moving up to face winners for the first time. Works since the win have been good, especially on Dec. 23. Right back. The horse that could pose the biggest threat could be another from the Casse barn — All American Hero (12). But this one is on the AE List and will have to draw into the body of the race. I could see a Casse 1-2 finish if he does get in. This son of Hard Spun sold for $400,000 as a 2YO In–Training last year. I bet the 4 to win/place/show and then key the 4 over/under the (12) solidly in the exacta if the #12 draws in. If not, I will key the 4 over/under the 5-6-9-7, and then key the 4 over (only) the 2-11-3-8-1 in a much smaller one.

5th: 4-1-5/3/7-6-2…Alizee (4) gives the slight edge in this MCL event going a route of ground. This 3YO filly by Mark Valeski will be dropping into the claiming ranks for the first time and the barn hits with .19% of those getting this type of plunge. Came back out of the last race with a nice work on Jan. 2. Gets a top rider to fill the irons today, and looks to move up with the drop down. Delachaise (1) gets back to the same class level where she ran the last time. Came third when getting the blinkers in that one on Nov. 7 at Churchill Downs. Works since arriving here have been just OK for a barn that has won 5 of 10 starts to start the meet here. The rider has won one of those races for this barn. Red hot. Royal Angel (5) is another getting class relief in this spot, and goes for a barn that has been hot all meet. Has 18-13-11 record in 98 starts since the start of the meet here. This one was very competitive when running for $50,000 at Keeneland two back. Returns to the claiming ranks today and figures here, as well. I bet the 4-1 across the board and then box the top 3 in one exacta. I will key the top 3 numbers over/under the 3 in two smaller exactas.

6th: 2-5-9-(11)-(12)/6-3/8-10-4/1A-7…This is the third grass race carded today, and I will spread out in all the horizontal plays covering this race. In my vertical plays, I will give a slight nod to Moon Dash (2), who has not run since Nov. 3, 2017. That was about 14 months ago. But that was in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf at Del Mar. Before that, this 4YO daughter of Malibu Moon won on debut and then ran second to the nice Fatale Here in the Surfer Girl Stakes at Santa Anita. Has been training nicely for the return for a barn that hits with .18% of those returning from a longer layup. Gets my solid pick here. Princesschope (5) will get her third start since relocating to N.A. from France. Ran super here on Dec. 7, when finishing second by just a neck. Gets a top grass rider back in the saddle for the meet’s top trainer. The barn hits with .31% of those returning to the races as a beaten favorite, too. Watch out. Limari (9) is another from the barn of Brad Cox, and is moving up after an impressive maiden win here on Nov. 29. This one has run two good ones for the Cox barn after being shifted there from the West Coast and Jerry Hollendorfer late last year. Love the work here on Jan. 5. Top jock in the irons. Chance for sure. I bet the 2-5 to win/place/show and then box the top 3 in the exacta. 

7th: 10-9-1A/3-6-7/1-4-5-2…Dictator (10) will get his first start for the new barn of Louie Roussel, who hits with a 3-4-1 record in just 15 starts here this meet. Training well for this one, and comes out oa real key race at Keeneland. The winner of that one was claimed by NY’s Danny Gargan, and the gelding ran third in the Remsen Stakes the next time out. The runner-up in that one just ran a big second at Gulfstream Park for trainer Dale Romans on Wednesday. Led by 10 lengths in that one before giving up the ship late. Key race to exit. Moon Launch (9) drops out of a MSW event here on Dec. 22. Ran well early before spitting the bit. Trainer scores with .33% of those dropping onto the claiming ranks for the first time and with .30% going from a MSW event to a MCL level. I bet the 10 to win/place/show and then box the top 3 numbers in the exacta.

8th: 2-6-(14)-(16)-(15)/7-10-3/1-5-8…The last grass event of the day, and this one could get really wild if the horses on the AE List get into the body of this race. Some of the best in the field are waiting for an invitation to run, and will be parked wide, if they do. But they are real contenders. If not, I will focus on the top two numbers — led by the speedster Create Again (2). This one will set sail from the get-go, and try to hold on for the entire way for trainer J. Larry Jones, who switches to one of his most favorite riders for this mount. They have scored with .25% of the last 16 races they have teamed up together. Great work here on Jan. 6, as well. Has a 2-1-0 record in four starts over this grass, too. Trainer hits with .33% of the last 95 horses that are returning as a beaten favorite. Ecru (6) has run two nice seconds in a row and has hit the board in 7 of the last 8 races. Will be closing late and need some racing luck and room. But gets the meet’s top rider for the assignment. I bet the 2-6 across the board and then box those 2 in the exacta. 

9th: 1-8-9/10-2-5/3…Today’s finale is a nice MSW event for Louisiana-breds only, and I will give the nod to Whatelse Igot Todo (1). This one was claimed last time out for $15,000 when he was running against Open Company at Churchill Downs. Ran a really nice third, tiring late in that one. New barn hits with .28% of those making the first start after the purchase, and with .40% of those getting blinkers for the first time. The work here on Dec. 23 was super good. Real threat in this spot. Southern Swagg (8) and Tiz Neyney and Rad (9) both have a shot in here, too. The former goes for a good barn operation, which won with .21% of 198 starters last year. Was heavily favored on debut on Nov. 7 at Delta Downs. Ran well before tiring in that one. The latter has run second and third in two career starts, the last one against Open Company. Both have a real chance. I bet the 1 to win/place/show and then box the top 3 numbers in the exacta.

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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