McLean’s Selections for the Fair Grounds on Friday, Nov. 30

Day Results9-4-0-2
2018 Overall 1807665-641-792
Win % of Top Pick36.80%
Payoff % of Top 3 Picks Overall38.70%
Top Selection ITM / FG Nov-Mar 6-966.67%
Top Selection Win / FG Nov-Mar 4-944.44%
“Key Horses” @ FG Nov-Mar 1-1-0-0100.00%

We had our first day of handicapping at the Fair Grounds on Thursday, and it didn’t go all bad. We ended up with 4 winners in the 9-race card and had exactas that returned $12, $13.40, $16.40 and $4.40 for each $1 played.

Here is a closer look at Friday’s twilight card. Racing action begins at 6 p.m. ET:

1st: 5-11-6/10-8/3-7…This is a turf sprint event going 5 furlongs for an optional claimer tag. The leader of this group appears to be (at least to me) Anytime Anyplace (5), a 6YO gelding by Any Given Saturday. This one, trained by Ron Faucheaux, is coming off a neck victory up at Laurel in Maryland in his last start on Oct. 25. This will be the first start for the new barn, who hits with .13% of those making the debut for the new trainer. The barn is red hot to start the meet, and there rider is doing well, too. Has two wins out of the lat 3 races, and likes to press the pace right from the get-go. Has 2 wins in 4 starts at this specialty distance. About Our Time (11) gets stuck a little wide and that could compromise his chances if he does not get a clean break from the gate. Ran 5th last time out at Delta Downs, and came from the back of the pack that time. The race before, this one ran over the dirt at Louisiana Downs and pushed the gas pedal from the beginning, and faded late. Looks to like the speed angle better. Gets a speed rider in the saddle for the first time today. Warrior’s Kid (6) will be dropping to a career low level today. Ran well to be fourth last time out at Remington Park for a barn that has won with .28% of the 1,454 starters this year. Hits with .24% of those that ship in to run, and with .26% of those that sprint. Adds up to a contender. I bet the 5-6 across the board and then box the top 3 in one exacta. I will key the 5-11-6 over (only) the 10-8 in a smaller version.

2nd: 3-1-5/6-2…A nice 6-furlong sprint over the dirt track, and it draws a solid field — led by Driven By History (3). This 3YO gelded son of Two Step Salsa is a Florida-bred, but has hit the board in 4 of 9 starts this year. Looking for the first 2018 win, but has two thirds in a row. Will be dropping out of a $100,000 race the time before for a top trainer, who will get to saddle this one for only the second time today. Hits with .26% of those kind. Nice work here on Nov. 11, as well. Bourne in Nixa (1) is dropping into the claiming ranks for the first time ever, and the barn does well with those kind. Ran over a sloppy track last time out and that may have compromised his chances, but this one has not been the same as he was earlier this year when he looked to be an up-and-coming gas tank. He beat Mitole at Oaklawn Park in the Gazebo Stakes over a sloppy track, and that one has come back to be one of the fastest horses in the land. I can throw out the grass experiment two times back, but it sure would be nice to see this one return to his former style. Like the 10-1 odds, and I will definitely use — in hopes. Will’s Pioneer (5) will be making his first start for a top young trainer, who claimed this one last time out off of the barn of Steve Asmussen. The new barn hits with .21% of those making the first start for the new barn and with .13% of those getting blinkers for the first time. Ran a solid second against a good one in the last out, too. The work since the claim was very nice. I bet the 3-5 across the board and then box the top 3 numbers in one exacta. I will key the top 3 over/under the 6-2 in two smaller versions.

3rd: 6-1/3-7-5…Musical Man (6) is 9-5 ML odds, and is likely to go below the Mason-Dixon line by PT. But this 2YO colt by Maclean’s Music figures to control this group. The Louisiana-bred ran against open company in the first two career starts. Ran well at the end of the last out, on Nov. 14 at Churchill Downs, to nearly break the maiden. Now, he will face other state-bred for the first time. Trainer Mike Maker and rider Corey Lanerie have teamed up to win win .22% of their mounts together over the last 6 months. This one needs only to break s little sharper and he should set sail against these types. Crocodile Jacques (1) ran well on debut at Delta Downs on Oct. 20, but tired at the end of that 7-furlong race. Now, he will stretch out to a mile, and the barn hits with .23% of those making the second career start. I bet the 6 to win/place and then box the 6-1 in one exacta. I will key the 6 over the 1-3-7-5 in a smaller version.

4th: 3/4-1-2/7…Another possible single here with Wicked Indeed (3), who will be making his career debut for the barn of Steve Asmussen. This well-bred son of Tapit is out of a mare who has thrown 4 winners from 4 starters and already has 2 Stakes Winners. This one trained well here over the past month, and now looks plenty ready to make the career debut. Gets the barn’s top rider in the saddle. I bet the 3 to win/place/show and then key the 3 over/under the 4-1-2-7.

5th: 3-4-6/7-5…Breezing Bye (3) gets a slight edge in this event. This 2YO filly by City Zip will be switching over from the sod to the main track, and will be making the second career start for a barn that hits with .20% of those. Will drop into the claiming ranks for the first time, too, and the trainer hits with .28% of those. Love the work here on Nov. 6, and if she can break better against this softer bunch, she should be tough to handle. Savvy Ally (4) ran OK to be third on debut at Hawthorne Park on Oct. 11. Tracked towards the rear in that one and made a steady run all the way throughout that 6 furlong event. Barn hits with .17% of those making the second career start, and the rider has hit with a 2-0-2 record in the last 4 rides for this barn. Matapan (6) will be dropping down to a career low price tag, as well. Ran well for half of the last start before spitting the bit. Has come back to train well here, and gets a top rider in the irons. I bet the 3 to win/place/show and then box the top 3 numbers in one exacta. I will key the top 3 over the other 2 in a smaller version.

6th: 6-2-4-7/3-5…This is a wide open affair, and I will spread out accordingly. I give a slight edge to Waft (6) in this spot, considering that she has 3 seconds and 2 thirds in the first 10 starts. Last work  looks like an improvement and a rider that does well in New Orleans gets the mount. Has 2 seconds in 3 starts at this distance. Proudmoney (2) drops into the $10,000 price range today after breaking running against open company last time out. Has two seconds in a row, and looks to be getting a bit better. Should relish a return to state breds in here, and will get a weight break by getting an apprentice in the saddle. That weight difference might be the difference. Fiftyshadesofnay (4) has a second and three thirds in 13 career starts to date. Will shift back to the dirt after 3 straight turf tries, and the barn does hit with .18% of those making this surface switch. I bet the 6 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 others.

7th: 5/1-2-6/7…I normally don’t key — or recommend keying, for that matter — horses in this price range. They are normally not the most reliable at either duplicating a consistent effort, or capable of regular good runs. But…D’dawson (5) appears on paper to be so much the best that it is simply impossible not to key him in this spot, and against this field. He was second last time out when dropped from a MSW event to a MCL $10,000 level. Nearly won that one, losing by only a head. Now, he comes back at the same level and will get the same rider in the irons. Trainer does with with .15% of those that fit this claiming category, and the dam has a winner from the first 4 starters. I bet the 5 to win/place and then key the 5 over/under the 1-2-6-7.

8th: 1-7-2/3/6…I will spread out a bit here in this bargain basement event, going a mile over the dirt track. Netela (1) gets a slight edge, coming off a second place finish here on Nov. 15 at the same level. Closed with some vigor in that one and will get the same rider back up today for a barn that hits with .21% of those making the second start off a layup, and with .20% of those that run in the claiming ranks. Pleasant Street (7) has run two straight 4th place finishes, but before those efforts, he had hit the board in the 4 previous tries and 8 of the previous 9. In 21 career starts, he has only 1 win — but does have 5 seconds and 4 thirds. I think the idea here is to key the 7 under the “all button.” Mr. Haney (2) broke his maiden last time out here on Nov. 15. Trainer has been red hot ever since October at Keeneland. Off to a rip roaring start here, too, with 2 wins in the first 8 starts. Barn scores with .14% of those facing winners for the first time, and with .23% of those running in the claiming ranks. I bet the 1 to win/place/show and then box the top 3 numbers in one exacta. I will key the 7 under the “all button,” in a smaller version.

9th: 2-1-4/3-6/5…Tears for Paula (2) will be making the third career start today, and will be dropping significantly into the claiming ranks. The drop should be enough to make this one competitive, and gets a top rider to take the mount. Barn hits with .16% of those making the second start off a layup. Emily’s Pegasus (1) goes for a barn that has won .21% of its’ 86 starts this year. This one will be dropping farther down the claiming ladder today, as well. Gets a top LA rider up. Top Ten Duchess (4) goes for a barn that scores with .30% of those moving up a notch in the claiming ranks. And, the barn does hit with .12% of those routing for the first time. Like the wake up in the last out and could improve more today with a new rider up. I bet the 2 to win/place/show and then both top 3 in one exacta. I will key the top 3 numbers over the 3-6 in a smaller version, as well.

Good Luck & All the Best/Gene

Typical Gun Runner work: nice and relaxed the first part and picking it up nicely at the end,” Geroux said before flying out to spend Christmas with his family in Chicago. “Nothing fancy. Just maintenance and preparing him for the work next week.

Rider Florent Geroux, who was aboard for Gun Runner’s workout on Dec. 24 for the upcoming Pegasus World Cup
  • 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 ...

    Full Bio >

More From Gene McLean