McLean’s Selections for the Fair Grounds on Sunday, Dec. 2

Day Results10-4-6-1
2018 Overall 1826675-651-800
Win % of Top Pick36.97%
Payoff % of Top 3 Picks Overall38.81%
Top Selection ITM / FG Nov-Mar 20-2871.43%
Top Selection Win / FG Nov-Mar 14-2850.00%
“Key Horses” @ FG Nov-Mar 6-5-1-083.33%

We had another fine day down at the Fair Grounds in New Orleans on Saturday. Selected 4 winners out of the 10 race card and hit for exactas that returned $16.70, $20.80, $22.80, $62.20, $11.10, $18.30, $39.60 and $10.70 for every $1 played.

So far, through the first 28 races that we have handicapped in New Orleans, we have selected 14 winners and our top pick has hit the board on 71.43% of the time. Not a bad first week.

Let’s see if we can keep it rolling today. Here’s a better look at today’s card:

1st: 4/3-2/5-6…Memory Magic (4) will drop from a $20,000 price tag all the way to the bargain bin and $5,000 today and should really wake up at this level. The last time this one was seen at this track and racing against LA-breds only, she won by a whopping 13 lengths. Never been this low, either. Gets the blinkers for the first time and the barn hits with .23% of those getting the new eye candy for the initial time. Looks to be a solid choice in this one and will be designated with my first Key Play of the Day. I bet the 4 to win/place/show and then key the 4 over/under the 3-2-5-6 in the exactas.

2nd: 5-1A/2-7-6-1-8/4-3…This is the first grass event of the day, and I will go to B’s Ten (5) for the top pick. This 3YO filly by Soldat is coming off two straight wins and both of them have been over this grass course and going a mile. In three runs over this track, she has 2 wins and a second now. Trainer hits with .16% of those running for the second time off a layup, and with .20% of those that won the last race. Tap Dance Star (1A) will get the apprentice rider in the saddle today, and get a nice weight break. Ran in two straight state-bred Stakes events in a row and was competitive in each of those. Has not been out since June, and will make the first start on the grass. But the barn hits with .11% of those making the first start of this kind of a layup, and with .27% of those making the inaugural start on the sod. I bet the 5 to win/place/show and then box the 5-1A in one exacta. I will key the 5-1 over/under the 2-7-6-8 in two smaller ones.

3rd: 7-6-3/1-5-2…Stellar Magic (7) will drop to the lowest claiming level after a non-competitive try against much tougher last time out at Delta Downs. The last time at this level, though, she ran a decent third over a sloppy track, which she may not have preferred. Trainer hits with .11% when making this type of a drop, and picks up the services of a very talented rider. Paper Doll (6) ran second at this level last time out here on Nov. 17. Tired late in that one and couldn’t muster a late drive. Has a 2-3-0 record in 11 starts this year, and should be able to stalk and pounce in this spot. Cherry Twist (3) has 2 wins in 8 starts this year and will be coming off an effort where she ran well before spitting the bit in the deep going last time out. Barn hits with .16% of those running over the dirt. I bet the 7 to win/place/show and then box the top 3 in one exacta. I will key the 7 over/under the 1-5-2 in two lesser versions.

4th: 6-5-7/1A/2-4-3…This is a nice MSW event going 1 mile over the sod course here, and I will give a slight edge to Fra Mauro (6). This one comes from the barn of Brad Cox, who is off to a terrific start here this meet. Barn won 5 of the first 19 starts, and added to that tally on Saturday. This one ran third last time out when negotiating a muddy track at Churchill Downs. Now will move to the turf, and the barn hits with .33% of 195 that have made that surface switch this year. When moving up the ladder from a MCL event to a MSW level, the barn has scored with .25% of the 12 that have made that move up the ladder. The work on Nov. 24 at Louisiana Downs was terrific. Gets the barn’s top rider here, and this one looks salty in this spot. Non Regrette (5) has raced 8 times already, and is still looking for that first win. But he has 3 seconds and a third. Was 5-wide in the last out and stalled in the late going. Gets a rider switch to a hot jock today, and could find the circle after this one. Piocho (7) will be making the second grass start for a top trainer. Barn has hit with .21% in the first 24 saddle jobs here this meet. Ran well in the career debut and then was off for a year. Ran OK after that extended layup and now will make the second start off a layup and the barn hits with .19% of those. Dam was a SW and has thrown a turf winner from 7 starters and 1 SW already, as well. Has a real chance if he can improve off the last try. I bet the 6-7 across the board and then box the top 3 numbers in the exacta. I will key the top 3 numbers over/under the 1A (if that one stays in this race).

5th: 5-2-1-6…A MCL event for Louisiana-breds, and I will give a slight edge to Purple Heart Road (5). This one will make the start for my great friend and long-time New Orleans resident Louie Roussel. The barn has two seconds in the first three starts here this meet, and has won with .17% of 132 starts this year. This one ran well last time out when dropping down the claiming ranks, and will get another drop today. Jockey knows how to win races, and the work here on Nov. 25 was nice. Saint William (2) will be dropping out of the MSW ranks into the MCL level for the first time, and the barn hits with .24% of those. Gets the same rider back and the work here on Nov. 28 was a bullet and noteworthy. Simply Gucci (1) goes for a cold barn, but will be dropping all the way from the MSW ranks into the MCL level for the first time today, too. Ran OK for the first half of the debut run before tiring. Barn does hit with .17% of those making this kind of a class drop. I bet the 5 to win/place/show and then box the top 3 numbers in one exacta. I will key the 5 over/under the 2-1-6 in two more smaller versions.

6th: 4-2-1/6-3-1A/9-7-8…This is another grass event, and I will spread out a tad in the horizontal plays. Maid of Iron (4) will be my top play, dropping out of a $75,000 claimer into one for $30,000 today. Barn hits with .13% of those making the first grass start, and with .14% of those routing for the first time, too. Gets a top rider back in the saddle after a dismal performance at Churchill Downs on Nov. 11. Early speed in that one, but folded up quickly and completely. I think she could run much better over the turf, what with the dam having thrown a turf winner and with 6 winners out of the first 8 starters. Look for improvement here, and I love the 5-1 ML odds. Vortices (2) will get back to the sod today for my good friend, Buff Bradley. She caught a very soft grass course two back and didn’t like that. Ran over the dirt last time out and didn’t fare well there, either. But the race three back was very good against much, much tougher competition. If she can find that form again today? Could be tough in this spot at a nice price. Tschudi’s Girl (1) gets class relief, as well. Ran OK before tiring late over a fast dirt track last time out. Gets the grass for the first time today and the barn hits with .17% of those. Shortens up a bit, too, and that should help with the stamina. Dam has a winner from 2 starters and the barn hits with .20% in the MCL ranks. I bet the 4-2 across the board and then box the top 3 numbers in one exacta. I will key the 4-2 over/under the 1-6-3 in two smaller ones.

7th: 5/7-3/4-8-2/1-1A-6…Turner Time (5) will be making a huge, huge, huge class drop in this one — all the way from $40,000 to $5,000. Makes one pause and wonder what the heck is up; or, what is the heck is wrong. But no matter how you cut this one, he figures to have his way with this group if he runs answers close to the race he ran three back when winning at Ellis Park in a nice allowance event. Will get the barns #1 rider here., and the work here on Nov. 25 was very nice. Barn hits with .31% when making this drastic of a class drop, and I suspect that the connections are just look ing for the win and to lose this one in the claim. I bite. I bet the 5 to win/place/show and then key the 5 over/under the 7-3-4-8-2. I will key the 5 over (only) the 1-6. My second Key Play of the Day.

8th: 8-7-6-3/4-5-9/2-1…The last grass race of the day, and I will spread out in this event to see if I can catch the late Pick 5 carryover. I will give a slight edge to Sunset Wish (8) in this 1-mile event over the grass course. This one broke the maiden last time out at Penn National, and will now get the Lasix for the first time. The barn wins with .24% of those that are getting the anti-bleeder medication for the first time and that is with 33 runners. Gets a top grass jockey in the irons and this 2YO daughter of Malibu Moon comes from a dam who has thrown a turf winner from 4 starters. The trainer/jockey duo have teamed up for a 3-3-2 record over the last two weeks. Like this one. Community Watch (7) is another who broke the maiden last time out and will now face winners for the first time. Has moved from the barn of HOFer Shug McGaughey to Tyron Benoit (?), but the new barn has hit with .15% of the first 41 starters. And, the barn has won with 2 of 3 that have moved from maiden class to face winners for the first time. Like the work here on Nov. 24. Gets a top rider. A chance at 6-1 ML odds. Noble Love (6) and Martian (3) both warrant a long look in here, too. I bet the 8-7 across the board and then box those two in the exacta. I will key the 8-7 over/under the 6-3 in two smaller versions.

9th: 5-3/2-4-1…Mr. Nasty Time (5) has raced 11 times this year with only one win. But the 3HO son of D’Wildcat has 3 seconds and 2 thirds to also show on the resume, and has hit the board in three of the last four outs and four of the last six. Like the new rider up today, and the barn does hit with .12% of those switching from a sprint to a route event. Iron Grip (3) ran OK last time out before tiring at the end of that 1 mile event. Will get back to facing only LA-breds today, and that should benefit this one. Has run here 8 previous times with only 1 second and 1 third to show for the efforts. Weidenbachers Gent (2) picks up a nice rider switch for this one, and the barn does score with .16% of those routing. Lost to Iron Grip five races back by less than 1 lengths. Figures off that one. I bet the 5 to win/place/show and then key the 5 over/under the “all button.” 

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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