McLean’s Selections for the Fair Grounds on Sunday, Jan. 13

Day Results10-4-2-5
2019 Overall 6464/20-21-36
Win % of Top Pick31.25%
Payoff % of Top 3 Picks Overall40.10%
2019 Top Pick in the Money –40 of 6462.50%
Top Selection ITM / FG Nov-Mar 167-24368.72%
Top Selection Win / FG Nov-Mar 93-24338.27%
“Key Horses” @ FG Nov-Mar 49-23-11-446.94%
“Key Horses” in 2019 18-7-4-138.89%

1st: 9-5-11-(13)/3/2-1-6/7-4…Coworker (9) is 6-1 ML odds and could provide us with a nice payoff to start the day. This 3YO Goldencents colt ran well on debut here on Dec. 21 before tiring late and finishing third. Gets Lasix for the first time after that finish, and worked super here on Jan. 8. Love the combo and the dam of this one has thrown a turf winner, too. My choice at a price. Upset Special. The horse most likely to beat, though, may be War Treaty (5), who comes from the barn of Steve Asmussen. This one ran at this level last time out and ran second while wide into the final turn. Barn hits with .25% of those returning as a beaten favorite. Temple City Star (11) goes for a barn that does not do well on debut, but the trainer hits with .27% of those making the second start in the career. This one scuffled on debut at Keeneland in October, but has returned to work well and drops into the claiming ranks for the first time. Gets a top rider for this one, and sits at 8-1 ML odds, too. I bet the 9 to win/place/show and then box the 9-5 solidly in one exacta. I will key the 9-5 over/under the 11-3. I will key the 9-5 over (only) the 2-1-6-7-4.


2nd: 2-6-3-1/4-5/8…This is a wide-open affair for me, and I will definitely spread out wings to try and catch the horizontal plays – like the double, pick 3 and pick 4. Shang (2) will get a slight edge for the top spot from me, though. This 3YO son of Shanghai Bobby has run really well in the first two career starts and broke the maiden over the slop in the last out here on Dec. 8. Barn hits with .19% of those graduating to face winners for the first time. Calimambo (6) ran third in a Louisiana-bred Stakes event last time out and the winner of that one came right back to win the next time out. In 5 career starts, he has a nice 1-1-2 record on the resume. Brother Richie (3) is another who drops out of the Stakes company. Has run in five Stakes in a row. Has a third in that grouping. Would be surprised to see this one pushed to the lead early on, with the rider choice. Blinkers come off after one try. Trainer hits with .33% when losing the shades. I bet the 2-6 across the board and then box those two solidly in one exacta. I will key the 2-6 over/under the 3-1 in two more smaller vesions.


3rd: 7-6/8-3-1/13-9-11…The second of the four grass races carded on Sunday, and I will give a slight edge to Handsome Honey (7) in this spot. This one is a first time gelding and will get a significant class drop for the return, as well. Ran up against a monster who came back to be fourth here on Friday. Dam of this one has thrown 3 turf winners and 1 SW. Trainer hits with .32% with horses dropping into the claiming ranks for the first time. Must use for me. Sarcillo (6) has been running in the MSW ranks, too, and gets the plunge into the MCL level for the first time today. Barn hits with .17% of those running in the MCL ranks for the firsts time. Goes back to turf, where he did run a third at Indy Grand. Poppy Joe Rocks (8) is a must use for me, too, especially at the 10-1 ML odds. This one shifts barns and may get to the grass for the first time. The dam of this one has a winner from 2 starters and has a turf winner. Gets blinkers for the first time with the new barn, and he hits with .14% of those getting the shades. I look for big time improvement here. I bet the 7-8 across the board and then box the top 3 numbers in the exacta.


4th: 1-7-8/6/3-5/4…Grandezza (1) could provide a nice return on the dollar today, as well. This 3YO daughter of Scat Daddy goes for a barn that normally does not have them cranked all the way for the debut. This one ran 5th here on Dec. 22. But the barn also hits with .15% on the second career start and with .17% of those routing for the first time. Shifts to a power rider for this one is a good indication that this one could be ready. The rail has rendered .18% winners, too. My second Upset Special. The Steve Asmussen barn will send out Paradise Bay (7) for the first time in this spot. Barn hits with .18% of those making the career debut, but that number drops to .14% when they debut going a mile or longer. Dam has 5 winners from 5 starters, though, and 2 SWs already. Good genes. In Charge Annie (8) comes from the Brad Cox barn, and has 4 thirds in the first 5 starts. Play underneath? I do. I bet the 1-7 across the board and then box the top 3 numbers in one exacta. I will key the top 3 numbers over/under the 6 in two smaller versions.


5th: 8-1/2-(10)-6-9/4-5-7…Scarlet Flutter (8) will make the first start for a class trainer who knows how to get them ready and how to win races. Off to a slow start here this meet, but this Smart Strike filly looks ready to make and leave a mark. Has a 2-1-1 record in the first 7 starts for a farm that can breed pure runners. My pick. Good Move (1) won her first two career starts impressively for the meet’s top trainer, and then fell on some hard times. Ran poorly over a sloppy track in the G3 Miss Preakness Stakes last Spring and then was off 6 months. Barn does hit with .28% of those returning from this kind of a layup. I bet the 8-1 across the board and then box them solidly in one exacta. I will key the 8-1 over/under the 2-(10)-6-9 in two smaller versions.


6th: 3/2-1-4-5/6-7…My first Key Play of the Day comes right here with Cosmic Code (3). This 3YO Into Mischief filly has never been worse than second in her three-race career and looks much the best for this spot – with a top rider getting the call. Love the work this one sported on Dec. 13 before the last race. Solid. I bet the 3 to win/place/show and then key the 3 over/under all the other numbers I list above.


7th: 1-2-11/6-8-(13)-(1A)/3-9-10…The final grass race of the day, and I will focus my betting attention and strategy on the top 3 numbers in this sequence. Vincitore (1) is 5-1 ML odds and could offer some real value. This 4YO gelded son of English Channel is coming off a nose win to break the maiden last time out in August up at Arlington Park. Off since then, but the works indicate that he could be ready to provide some more excitement when facing winners for the first time today. Barn hits with .11% when moving up to that level. Thunder Mesa (2) may be the horse to beat, though, and comes in having faced much tougher company the last three races. Gets the drop into the claiming ranks for the first time and this barn hits with .18% of those. Top jock rides. Fra Mauro (11) goes for the barn of Brad Cox, and you have to respect any of these. Elevates up to face winners for the first time, and the barn hits with .30% of those graduating. Closed well as the fav to win here on Dec. 2. Wouldn’t be a shock. I bet the 1-2 across the board and then box the top 3 numbers in the exacta.


8th: 2-6/9-5/8-10-4-3-1…Pinch Assault (2) will be dropping to the basement bargain bin for this event, and should appreciate the class drop. Last time at this level, he won by nearly 4 at Evangeline Downs back in May of 2018. Will get a huge rider switch for this one, and the barn did win with .15% of 578 starters last year. Choice. Finishlikeapro (6) goes for a top claiming trainer who won with .28% of 1,499 starters last year. This one has two wins and a close second in the last three outs. Has a 2-1-0 record in 5 starts here, and gets a rider who has hit with .19% of the last 26 starts for this barn. Over the last two weeks, the duo of trainer/jockey have 3 wins in 8 starts. I bet the 2-6 across the board and then box those two solidly in one exacta. I key the 2-6 over/under the 9-5 in two smaller versions.

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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