Updated: McLean’s Selections for the Fair Grounds on Friday, March 15

Day Results9-3-3-3
2019 Overall 397397/142-152-194
Win % of Top Pick35.77%
Payoff % of Top 3 Picks Overall40.97%
2019 Top Pick in the Money –278 of 39770.03%
Top Selection ITM / FG Nov-Mar 407-57670.66%
Top Selection Win / FG Nov-Mar 219-57638.02%
“Key Horses” @ FG Nov-Mar 123-50-25-1540.65%
“Key Horses” in 2019 95-34-19-1235.79%

Here is a closer look at Friday’s card:

1st: 8-9-4/10-(12)/2-1-7…This is a turf event for the LA-breds only, and will be contested at the 1-mile distance. I will go to the outside for my top two selections, led by Shae’s Day (8). This 3YO gelding has run two nice seconds in a row and the winner of the race two back returned to win his next race, as well. Since being equipped with the blinkers, he has been a different horse. In 6 lifetime tries, has 4 seconds. Choice. Pancho’s Lucky Boy (9). He is still looking for this first career win as a 6YO gelding and is 0-for-19 to date. But he does have 4 seconds and 5 thirds on the resume. Today’s the day? Gets a new rider for the assignment. And, he is 0-for-10 for this barn. Wow. But I can use underneath. Atlantic Ruler (4) has 2 seconds and 2 thirds in 8 tries so far. Ran third last time out over a muddy track at Delta Downs. Has raced here twice, with a second. I bet the 8-4 across the board and then box the top 3 in the exacta.

2nd: 11-4-8/2-1/6-10…This is a bargain bin special for $5,000 claimers, and Desert Prophet (11) looks to be the best on paper. Won the last time out here on Feb. 15 to notch his 3rd career win. Loses that condition and moves up today, but the barn hits with .30% of claimer repeaters, and with .20% of those that won the last race. Will need a new rider today. Winning jockey last time out was injured last week. Beautiful Game (4) drops to the lowest level ever for him, and the barn hits with .26% of those getting this kind of class relief. Will stretch out from a sprint to a route race, as well, and the barn hits with .15% of those. Silver Giant (8) won here two races back when pushing the pace up front. Spit the bit last time out over a sloppy track. Has run well over an off track in the past, so don’t know what the issue was then, but willing to give this one another try today. I bet the 11-4 across the board and then box the top 3 in the exacta.

3rd: 9/(12-13)/6-4-1/3-8…My first Key Play of the Day comes here with Anytime Anyplace (9). The 7YO gelding has truly become a specialist in this 5.5-furlong event, winning 3 of 7 tries, with a second and a third. Has a 1-1-1 record in three races here, too. Trainer is having a super meet, winning with .34% of the 74 starters so far. Gets a new rider today, but this jock is a perfect 2-for-2 for this barn in the last 60 days. I bet the 9 to win/place/show and then key the 9 over/under the 6-4-1-3-8. Check to see if the two AE’s get in.

4th: 8-7/9-6/1-4-2/3…Dreaming Diamonds (8) goes for the barn of leading trainer Brad Cox and will be getting her first start for the new barn. She was claimed last time out for this price level and won easily for her second victory in a row. This barn hits with .29% when making the first start after the purchase, and the barn also hits with .47% of those claimer repeaters. Should go right to the front under the guidance of a standout rider here. Flatoutandfoxy (7) is an Arkansas-bred filly by Flat Out and she has raced only in “open company” in her 6 race career. Has a 1-1-1 record to show for it and will sink out of a major optional claimer to the $15,000 price tag. But…There’s always a but. She has not race in 13 months. Trainer does score with .15% of those away this long and .28% of those dropping into the claiming ranks for the first time. Gets the meet’s top rider up, as well. I bet the 8 to win/place/show and then box the 8-7 in one exacta. I key the 8 over/under the 9-6-1-4-2 in two smaller versions.

5th: 7-6/5-8-2/4-1-3…Noble Thought (7) has hit the board in three in a row and 6 of the last 7 races. Will be making the second start for this barn after the claim two back, when he won here going a mile over the sod. in 12 races over the grass, he has a nice 4-3-1 record and is 1-for-1 here. Looks solid in this spot today. Letthebigshot Roll (6) goes for the barn of Louie Roussel III, who is having a nice meet so far. This one ran second, beaten just a neck, in the last out and that was off a three month layup. Nice work here on March 9 to prep for this one and our top choice just barely beat this moderate closer in the last out. I bet the 7-6 across the board and then box those two in the exacta. I key the 7-6 over the 5-8-2 in a smaller version.

6th: 7-2-10/5-(13)-9/4-(15)…This is a bargain bin, $5,000 claimer for the LA-bred fillies, and I will give the slight edge to Tencentmartinimary (7). This one goes for a solid barn operation, which has won with .22% of the 41 starters this meet. Last time out on Feb. 24, she ran for $15,000 price tag. Didn’t are too well in that one, but did win in December by nearly 10 lengths at the $10,000 MCL level. The barn hits with .46% of those getting this kind of class relief, and the rider is starting to really heat up some here. I bet the 7 to win/place/show and then box the top 3 numbers in the exacta. I will key the 7 over/under the 5-9-4 in two smaller versions.

7th: 3-10/6-4-2-9/5…This is a MCL event for the LA-bred fillies, and will be contested at the sprint distance of 5.5 furlongs over the main track. I go with Marcia Rose (3), who has a second and a third in 4 career starts for a solid barn operation. Returns as a beaten favorite from the last time out, when she was second. This barn hits with .22% of those. That was over a muddy track, too, and was the first time at this level. She looks like a rock star in here for me. I bet the 3 to win/place/show and then key the 3 over/under the numbers listed above.

8th: 8-4-2/6-3/7-1…Another $5,000 claimer for the LA-breds only, and I will focus on the top 3 numbers in this sequence — led by Liaison Halo (8). This one drops all the way from a $30,000 optional claimer to the bargain bin here. Trainer hits with .14% of those going into the claiming ranks for the first time. Gets one of the meet’s top riders in the irons. Fits better here. Miss You Jo (4) has only one win in 21 previous races. But has 2 seconds and 4 thirds. Can hit the underneath parts, on his best day. I bet the 8 to win/place/show and then box the top 3 numbers in the exacta. I will key the 8 over the 6-3-7-1 in a smaller amount.

9th: 5/8-9/2-4-7…The last race of the day is for the LA-bred fillies and I get my last Key Play of the Day. Peace Treaty (5) comes into this one off running in two straight MSW events. Ran fourth in both of those, but when you get back to three races ago — when she ran at a $20,000 price tag — she was second and nearly won. Today, she drops back into the MCL ranks and for a price of $10,000 — the lowest level in her career. Trainer hits with .24% when dropping from MSW to MCL. Looks salty against these. I bet the 5 to win/place and then key the 5 over (only) the numbers listed above.

Good Luck & All the Best/Gene

(Comments to Come)

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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