McLean’s Selections for the Fair Grounds on Saturday, Dec. 1

Day Results9-6-4-7
2018 Overall 1816671-645-799
Win % of Top Pick36.95%
Payoff % of Top 3 Picks Overall38.82%
Top Selection ITM / FG Nov-Mar 13-1872.22%
Top Selection Win / FG Nov-Mar 10-1855.56%
“Key Horses” @ FG Nov-Mar 3-3-0-0100%

I really good Friday night down in the Bayou, what with our picking 6 winners out of the 9 races contested. We also hit for exactas that returned $12.70, $41.30, $3,80, $5.60, $20, $7.70, $4.70 and $12.40 for each $1 wagered on the card.

So, we are off to a really good start down at the Fair Grounds so far — after two robust days. We will try to keep it going today. Here’s a closer look at today’s card:

1st: 1/6-5-7/4-3…Star Performer (1) is a 3YO filly that will be dropping to the bargain basement bin today and made available for a $5,000 price tag. She will also be returning to facing only Louisiana-breds, as well, after facing open company in the last out. When good, this one can be really good. Won by over 7 three races back against much tougher on the grass. Will now switch to the dirt, but the trainer hits with .21% of those making this surface switch, and with .34% of those returning to the starting gate for the first time as a beaten favorite. Looks to be a Key Play of the Day for me. I bet the 1 to win/place/show and then key the 1 over/under the 6-5-7. I will play the 1 over (only) the 4-3 in two smaller versions.

2nd: 5-7/3-1-2…Ricky Dale (5) broke the maiden last time out while racing down at Louisiana Downs. Will now face winners for the first time, and the barn hits with .10% of those kind. In three career starts to date, this 2YO LA-bred has a win and two thirds. Gets a solid rider for this one, and the barn hits with .22% of those racing as 2YOs. Holy Sunrise (7) goes for one of the hottest barns in the world. In the first 16 starts here this meet, this trainer has made 6 trips to the winner’s circle. Broke the maiden on debut by over 8. Came back to run in a Stakes event at Evangeline Downs in the last out. That was back in July, but the trainer hits with .19% of those coming off this type of a layup. Gets a new rider today, as well. I bet the 5-7 across the board and then box those two solidly in one exacta. I will key the 5-7 over (only) the 3-1-2 in a lesser amount.

3rd: 8-1-4/2-5/7-6…This is the first of three grass races carded down in the Bayou today, this one contested at the 1 mile distance. I will go with Cubs Win (8) in this spot, getting his first start for a new barn. The trainer is 0-for-11 with first time starters with the barn switch, but this one is dropping in class and should fit nicely in this spot. Gets a top rider in the irons, and has 2 wins and a third in 8 starts over the sod. Bred to love the grass. Weneedtotalk (1) was claimed last time out and the barn hits with .21% of those making the first start since the purchase. Had a nice work here on Nov. 22, and is coming off an easy and impressive win at Churchill Downs in the slop last time out. This will be the first try over the grass, but the barn hits with .16% of those kind. Watch out here. Acorn Street (4) comes from the barn of Brad Cox, and will switch to a high octane rider in this spot. Barn hits with .31% of those running in the claiming ranks, and the barn/rider have hit for a 2-1-1 record over the last 5 starts together. Another prime contender here. I be the 8 across the board and then box the top 3 numbers in the exacta. I will key the top 3 over (only) the 2-5 in a smaller version.

4th: 7-2-1/3-5-4…Another spread race for me, and I will focus in on the top 3 numbers in this sequence. Starlet Scarlett (7) is a 2YO daughter of Star Guitar, and ran third on debut at the Fair Grounds on Nov. 15. If she improves off that experience any, she could be very tough in this grouping today. Barn hits with .07% of those routing for the first time, and with .08% of those making the second start of the career. But may flash a bit more speed today, to avoid the starting gate blues that she had in the last out. Speedacious (2) will make the first start for a new barn today, and they win with .15% of those making the second career start. The first out at Keeneland was not a good experience, but drops into a better spot with this group. May like the longer distance, too, and the barn hits with .15% of those routing for the first time. Fugitive lady (1) is a LA-bred and will be moving to the open company today. Ran very well against state-bred last time out, but will be facing tougher today. I do like the work here on Nov. 24. Looks better, and the rail can be golden. I bet the 7-2 across the board and then box the top 2 in one exacta. I will key the 7-2 over/under the 1, and then the 7-2 over (only) the 3-5-4 in a lesser version.

5th: 3-1/4-6-5-7/2…The second grass race carded today, and this one will be contested at the sprint 5.5-furlong distance. I give a slight edge to Tropicat (3), who comes into this one off a solid run in a Stakes event at Gulfstream Park on Sept. 16. In 10 grass races, he has 3 wins and 3 thirds — but will be making the trip West to New Orleans for the first time. The barn hits with .15% of those shipping in from another venue. Savage Battle (1) is 6-1 ML odds and could spice up the exotic rack here. This 4YO gelded son of War Front has raced 4 times at this specialty distance, and has 2 wins and a third. Previously trained by Chris Block, this one will shift to a new barn today. Trainer hits with .10% of those making the initial start under their supervision. Race at Keeneland in October was very solid against a very good field. If he can duplicate that effort, he could be tough in this spot. I bet the 3-1 across the board and then box those 2 solidly in one exacta. I will key the 3-1 over (only) the 4-6-5-7-2.

6th: 8-9-5/4-2-7/3-6-1…This is a wide open affair, for sure, and I will spread out once again in the horizontal plays. I will focus on the top 3 in my vertical plays, though, led by Double Clutchin (8). In the first six starts, she has put up 4 seconds and a third. Been right there every time. Has been the beaten favorite in the last two outs, though, and the barn only scores with .08% of those returning as the fan’s choice. Will get the same rider back who nearly booted this one home on top last time out, though, and I still think this is the one to beat. Onetwomanyrockets (8) will be getting Lasix for the first time and will be dropping significantly in class for this one today. Gets a top rider in the irons for the first time. All those changes could add up to a better performance in here. Like the 6-1 ML odds. Wasnt Joking (5) is dropping in class for a barn that hits with .25% of those making the second start in a claiming event. Ran well on debut at Indy Grand against open company. Should appreciate the drop and gets a nice rider switch for this one, too. I bet the 8 to win/place/show and then box the top 3 in one exacta. I will key the 8 over/under the 9-5-4-2-7 in two smaller versions.

7th: 12-11-2/1-6-(13)-(14)/8-9-4-5-7-3…The third grass race on the card, and this one will be contested at a mile. I will go to the outside to find my top two challengers in this tilt, led by Firewater Jake (12). This one comes from the barn of Brad Cox, and will be dropped into the MCL ranks for the first time. The barn hits with .32% of those making the first grass tart; .25% of those making the second career start; and with .32% of those making the second route start. Love the work at Churchill Downs on Nov. 17, and looks really good in this spot. Was bet down to favoritism in the first start at Indy Grand in MSW company. Looks salty here. Hardcore Folklore (11) does have grass experience, having run at 11/16-milees over the Aqueduct turf on Nov. 2. Ran OK in that one for the debut effort, and was supported at the windows, too. Now, this one gets class relief. Bought for $375,000 a year ago at Keeneland September, and now shows up for $30,000. Might be a good claim prospect here — being a son of the nice, versatile and talented sire Curlin. Uptown Ruler (2) is another from the Cox barn. Ran in MSW company at Churchill Downs on debut the end of October. That was over the turf, and he did show some early lick before tiring in that 1 mile run over a “good” sod course. Look for improvement out of this one today. I bet the 12-2 across the board and then box the top 3 numbers in one exacta.

8th: 7/2-4-3-6/1-5…This is my second Key Play of the Day. I love Shining Knight (7) in this spot today. This 3YO gelded son of Into Mischief ran a solid second in the debut run at Churchill Downs on Nov. 8 for the Cox barn. Didn’t have the best of trips that day, and now moves to a new rider — who figures to give him a better, cleaner run today. The new jockey and trainer have teamed up for a 2-1-1 record over the last 5 races, and this barn hits with .26% of those running in the MSW ranks. I bet the 7 to win/place/show and then key the 7 over/under the 2-4-3-6. I will key the 7 over (only) the 1-5.

9th: 14-13-10-12/5/7-4-3/6-8-9-1-2-11…Richard Scherer Memorial Stakes…This is another turf event and will be run at 5.5-furlongs on one of the best grass tracks in all of N.A. It is a wide open affair, but I will focus on the outside for my top choices here. Excessivespending (14) will get a slight edge over this well-balanced field. This one can come late, and that plays well over this sweeping course. In 12 tries at this distance, this 4YO filly by Shackleford has 4 wins, 1 second, and 1 third. Comes in off an impressive win at Keeneland at the same distance, and beat some good ones that day. Two back, coming off a layup, she ran 6th to Chanteline. But was beaten less than 2. That winner came back to take on colts in the Breeders’ Cup. New rider today, and will need to find a hole late. Brielle’s Appeal (13) gets 6-1 ML odds, and does have a shot in here. Toss the last out, when broke out and then rushed up to contest a hot early pace — that went nearly :21 flat. That is a suicide pace even if you break well. This one has a win over this sod and at this same distance. Upset Special. Contributing (10) has raced three times over this sod and has 2 seconds to show for here efforts. Very well bred and trained by one of the best in the business. Has not run since running here in February. But the trainer can definitely get them ready off the bench, winning with .18% off this type of layup. Has run well off rest before. I bet the 14-13 across the board and then box the top 3 in one exacta. I will key the top 3 numbers over/under the 12-5 in two smaller versions.

10th: 7-8/11-10-5-4/6-9-1…El Tristan (7) gets the nod in today’s finale. The trainer of this one has won .20% of his 85 starts this year, and with .36% of those making a route for the first time. What’s even better is that the barn has won with .42% of those dropping down this significantly. This guy should be very tough at this level and with the same rider getting back in the saddle today. Watch out. Ty C (8) is another class dropper. Trainer has not won a race in 17 starts this year. But this one was claimed two back and then ran against tougher last time out. Drop should make this one a contender, and the rider is hot right now. I bet the 7 to win/place/show and then box the top 2 numbers in one exacta. I will key the 7 over/under the 8-11-10-5-4 in two more smaller versions.

Good Luck & All the Best…

P.S.: If you are playing the Cigar Mile…might want to check out my stats on Mendelssohn. FYI

The horse ran super. He just ran smooth,” Servis said. “Irad saved all the ground all the way around. We may go to the Breeders’ Cup Sprint now, what can I say. I mean he’s been great. Ron [owner/breeder Ron Lombardi] had the mare sitting, and didn’t want to breed her, then he ended up breeding her. He’s a special horse.”

Jason Servis, Trainer of the winner Firenze Fire
  • 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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