McLean’s Selections for the Fair Grounds on Saturday, Jan. 26 / Pegasus World Cup

Day Results9-4-3-3
2019 Overall 127127/42-40-67
Win % of Top Pick33.07%
Payoff % of Top 3 Picks Overall39.11%
2019 Top Pick in the Money –81 of 12763.78%
Top Selection ITM / FG Nov-Mar 208-30667.97%
Top Selection Win / FG Nov-Mar 115-30637.58%
“Key Horses” @ FG Nov-Mar 70-31-16-544.29%
“Key Horses” in 2019 43-15-9-234.88%

A nice day at the ole’ ballyard on Friday. Four winners from 9 races, and our top pick returned $4.50, $7.60, $9.00, $25.20, $8.80, $2.80 and $15.80 for each $2 bet across the board. Our top pick has hit the board nearly .68% of the time since we started handicapping the Fair Grounds meet back in November.

We are looking for more today. Here’s a closer look at today’s card:

1st: 2B-2-12-10/11-9-3…The 2s are an entry for trainer Joe Sharp, but only one of them is likely to start in this 11/16-mile turf encounter — since the barn’s top rider is named on both parts of the entry. I like both Go For Moonshine (2) and Nobutzaboutit (2B), but I would strongly prefer the 2B if he is the one to stay on in the event. This one has raced three times in the career and has a win and a third. Broke the maiden here in November with a nice stalking move. Came back on a yielding surface and rand third on Jan. 5. But…Look at the trouble line. He was steadied at the 3/8ths pole. If you get the chance now, watch the video. Dead stopped. If this son of Proud Citizen catches a more firm footing and can get a clean trip, he may be tough to stop late. My pick. I bet the 2B to win/place/show and then box the top three numbers 2-12-10 in the exacta.

2nd: 4-2/3-9/6-8/1-7-5…A 6-furlong sprint event for Louisiana-breds only, and I will go with Charge the Line (4). This one is 5-2 in the ML, but will get the saddle from Tom Amoss and the expert services of leading rider James Graham. Both are having a super meet. This one has been second or better in four of the last five tries, and had a nice win here on Dec. 7. Move up in class and caught Givemeaminit (a real good one) in the last out. Ran second to that motor machine. If he comes back and runs that same race? Going to be very tough in this crowd. I bet the 4 to win/place/show and then box the 4-2 in the exacta. I will key the 4-2 over/under the 3-9 in two smaller versions.

3rd: 8-9-1/4-5-7-6/2…The second grass race on the card today, and they will contest this one at the 11/16-mile distance. I give a slight edge to the outside horses in this spot, led by Crafty Daddy (8). This 3YO son of Scat Daddy certainly has the pedigree and comes off a nice fourth on debut here on Dec. 13, when the race was washed off the turf to a sloppy main track. Should improve off that effort and get even better with the sod today. Like the recent worlds and the dam of this one has 2 winners from 3 starters. Barn hits with .31% of those trying the grass for the first time. Federal Dominance (9) is a Michael Stidham pupil and ran very well over the sod here on Nov. 17. Came back to catch a sloppy track on Dec. 13, as well, and spit the bit as the PT favorite. Barn hits with .24% of those returning as the beaten chalk. Dam of this one has a turf winner and 8 winners from 12 starters. Should be good on the grass. I bet the 8 across the board and then box the 8-9-1 in one exacta.

4th: 1-2-8/6-9-10/3-4-5…This is a MCL event going the sprint distance of 6 furlongs and I will go right to the golden rail — which has produced .19% winners all meet. Storm Stride (1) will be plummeting from a $50,000 price tag all the way to the $15,000 level today, and the barn hits with .50% of those making this kind of plunge in class. Was the beaten favorite last time out, as well, and caught a monster two times back. Should appreciate this class level. Neva’s Gal (2) is making a class drop for the Stidham barn, too. This outfit hits with .26% of those getting this kind of relief. Could improve with the move to the dirt, and the barn scores with .19% of those making this surface switch. Shorter distance could aid the effort. I bet the 1 to win/place/show and then box the top 3 numbers in the exacta.

5th: 9/1-2-8/3-4-5-6…Another long turf race scheduled here, and my first Key Play of the Day comes with Ezmosh (9). This 4YO son of Tizway made a huge score two races back when he won the G3 Arlington Classic at Arlington Park. But that was last May. Has only one start since then, when he spit the bit and ran 7th in the G3 American Derby. Has faced some real stars in his career and has still posted a 3-2-1 record in just 10 starts. Runs well off a layup, too, and goes for a top barn operation. Love the works of late down at Louisiana Downs. My pick. I bet the 9 to win/place/show and then key the 9 over/under the 1-2-8 in two exactas. I will key the 9 over (only) the 3-4-5-6.

6th: 2-1-6-4-5…A wide open MSW event that will be contested at the 6 furlong, sprint distance. I will give a slight edge to the two inside horses, led by Stargirl (2). This 4YO daughter of Medaglia d’Oro cost $300,000 as a yearling and has managed just two starts to the career so far. But She is training very well for the meet’s top trainer and ran well on debut last August. Hoptown Honey (1) is moving back to the dirt after a grass try last time out. That one went awry, and should relish the dirt. Has 14 starts to date with ZERO wins. But…does have 5 seconds and 2 thirds. Under again? I bet the 2 to win/place/show and then key the 2 over/under the rest of the numbers in the exactas.

7th: 2/1-4-3-5…My second Key Play of the Day comes in this 6-furlong sprint for LA-breds only. The 6YO mare was claimed last time out for the $5,000 sandwich, and ran a very nice second — headed only in the late going. She has been no worse than second in the last 8 starts and has three wins in that mix. Been claimed three times during that period, but lands in the hands of a very capable, aspiring, and talented young man by the name of John Ortiz. Watch for this guy. Can train. I bet the 2 to win/place/show and then key the 2 over/under the other numbers. And, I would bet she is claimed again.

8th: 4-6-2/1-5/3…Glance (4) was claimed last time out off the capable hands of trainer Tom Proctor. Didn’t run well that day on the grass, but gets back to the dirt in this one. Won two races back to break the maiden over the main track at Laurel. Work good on Jan. 6. Look for a strong performance out of this one, stalking the lead. Will Y Go Lassie (6) gets a huge drop in class for this spot, and the barn hits with .31% of those making this type of plunge. Won two starts back at Churchill Downs when rallying from far back. Gets a solid rider for the same try today. I bet the 4-6 across the board and then box the 4-6-2 in the exacta.

9th: 5/1-3/8-2-7/6…The last race of the day is for LA-breds only at the bargain bin price tag of $5,000. I will go with another Key Play of the Day here with Backstage Star (5). Gets the services of the meet’s top rider and the trainer has solid numbers across the board — especially with .23% winners on the first try off a claim. Has hit the board in each of the last five outs and has two wins in that mix. Could have been more, with a bit more luck. Was 5 wide in the last out and lost by less than a length in the slop here. I bet the 5 to win/place/show and then key the 5 over/under the 1-3. I key the 5 over (only) the rest of the numbers listed.

Pegasus World Cup:

I love Audible today. The second in the Harlan’s Holiday was NOT nearly as bad as everybody made it out to be. The gnashing of teeth could be heard across the country, and the critics unleashed. Truth be told, it was the second start off a layup and that can be a “bounce” race for sure. Secondly, it was on the slop. Third, it was not the most important race that the connections were pointing to or after. So…I think Audible will run a huge one today over the same track that he won the Florida Derby. Get ready to call an Audible today, folks. This one may just shock you.

Pegasus World Cup Turf Invitational:

I think the world will jump all over Yoshida in this spot today, and I think the Japan-bred will run well. Always seems to. But, truthfully, I think he may be a bit better on the dirt. And, I think there are a couple in here that love this grass course and are sitting on a huge one. I will go with Bricks and Mortar. This one was bouncing all over the place when he schooled in the paddock this week, and he looks the part, too. Loves this surface. Catapult could be another that will really like this sandy grass. Or is it grassy sand. This surface is more like the track conditions that he sees on the West Coast. I will box these two with Yoshida.

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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