McLean’s Selections for the Fair Grounds on Sunday, Jan. 6

Day Results10-4-4-5
2019 Overall 2610-11-14-x
Win % of Top Pick38.46%
Payoff % of Top 3 Picks Overall44.87%
2019 Top Pick in the Money –17 of 2665.38%
Top Selection ITM / FG Nov-Mar 144-20570.24%
Top Selection Win / FG Nov-Mar 83-20540.49%
“Key Horses” @ FG Nov-Mar 38-20-7-352.63%
“Key Horses” in 2019 7-4-0-057.14%
Top Pick Show Payoff — 18 of 26($3.70)
Total Show Payoff / Year($5.40)

We had a productive day on Saturday, nabbing four winners out of the 10 race card. We also scored with exactas that returned $5.80, $13.70, $7.30, $19.50, $3.20, and $37.30 for each $1 wagered. Not bad return on the ole dollar.

Here is a closer look at Sunday’s card in the “Big Easy:”

1st: 2/4-3-5/6-1…My first Key Play of the Day comes in the inaugural event of the day, with Light Her Up (2). This Louisiana-bred, 5YO mare by Tizway has run in two State-bred Stakes events in a row. Ran sixth in both of those, but gets a huge class drop to $12,500 claiming ranks today. If you go back to this Spring, this one ran off four victories in a row — climbing out of the claiming ranks with a thunder. Now, she gets back to that level for the first time since winning here on Dec. 21, 2017 in the midst of her hurricane win streak. Has 4 wins in 9 starts here. Works are solid enough for this class. Trainer hits with .20% going to the gate for the third time off a layup, and with .28% overall in the claiming ranks. My pick. I bet the 2 to win/place/show and then key the 2 over/under the 4-3-5. I will key the 2 over (only) the 6-1 in a lesser version.

2nd: 1-2-8/3-6-4…The first grass race of the day will be contested at a mile and will be held for the fillies and mares. I will give a slight edge to the two inside horses — led by Tyron Summer (1). This one has hit the board in 5 of 6 lifetime tries and will be slipping into the claiming ranks for the first time. Barn hits with .13% of those. Has run over the sod once time before, running second at Indy Grand on Oct. 23. Gets a nice drop in class for this one, and she has the speed to be a contestant from the get go. Happy’s Reflection (2) ran behind our top choice in that Sept. 22 race at Indy. Came out of that one to break her maiden next time out on Nov. 7 at Churchill Downs. This will be the first trip over the grass, but the barn hits with .10% of those and with .11% of those switching from the dirt to the grass. Dam of this one has 4 winners from 4 runners, but no turf winners — yet. Twirlingontheedge (8) is a sentimental play for me. Won here on Dec. 9 to break the maiden at nearly 20-to-1 odds. I touted her that day. And, I will stick with a little here, despite the move up in company and facing winners for the first time. I bet the 1 to win/place/show and then box the top 3 numbers in the exacta. I will key the 1 over/under the 2-8-3-6-4 in two smaller versions.

3rd: 4-7/3-1-2…Memory Magic (4) gets the nod in this tilt, racing for the first time for a new barn after being claimed last time out off an impressive win. Ran away by nearly 6 in that run here on Dec. 2. Moves up in class after that one, but the new barn hits with .22% of those making the first start for the new connections, and with .19% of those making the third start off a layup. Gets a new rider today, but one that does well in these parts. Babaknowsevrything (7) gets a significant drop in class for the barn of Bentley Combs in this spot. The trainer hits with .32% of the runners in claiming races and with .21% of those routing. This one threw in a clunker last time out, but won two back at Churchill Downs when facing lesser company. Has 2 wins and a second in 4 tries at this distance, and gets a clever rider in the saddle. I bet the 4 to win/place/show and then box the 4-7 in the exacta. I will key the 4-7 over/under the 3-1-2 in two smaller versions.

4th: 9/7-6-1A-4/3…My second Key Play of the Day comes here with Fetching Fury (9). This one is dropping significantly in class, as well, and ran second against much, much better in the last out here on Dec. 6. Has hit the board in 3 of 4 lifetime tries, and the barn hits with .27% of those getting this kind of drop in the claiming ranks. Nice apprentice rider gets the call, and the weight allowance can’t hurt, as well. This one likes to push the pace and should be forwardly placed. Question is? Can she hold on for the distance, where she has a second in her only previous try. Against this level? I think she can and will. I bet the 9 to win/place/show and then key the 9 over/underthe 7-6-1A-4-3.

5th: 6-1-2/4/5…Never Even Called (6) gets a slight edge this MCL event going a mile over the main track. This 4YO gelded son of Giant Oak ran fifth last time out here on Dec. 14 against much better. Was way wide in that one, and will get a new rider for the assignment today. Barn hits with .38% of those making this kind of class drop. Wristlet (1) has hit the board in the last six tries — of which have come at this same level. Ran a tiring third going longer here on Dec. 6. Cutback in distance today could help. Lethal Move (2) has hit the board in each of the last two since arriving here on the grounds. Both at this same level. Has finished in front of and behind Wristlet in each of the last two. They look evenly matched. I bet the 6 to win/place/show and then box the top 3 in one exacta. I will key the top 3 numbers over/under the 4-5 in two smaller versions.

6th: 11-7/10-6-8-2-3/1…A 1-mile grass event does not lend itself to a great run from the outside post positions — more often than not — but I still will go with Hideaway Hero (11). This one is a true closer that may have been too close to the pace last time out when running over at Gulfstream Park in June. Now, moves West to the Cajun Country and drops in class for a trainer who has a 1-1-3 record in just 12 starts here this meet. If this one can regain the run he had in the Spring, he will be mighty tough in this spot. Barn hits with .21% of those away from the races this long. Wildscore (7) will be making the second start off a layup, and the barn hits with .17% of those. Ran a nice closing fourth here on Dec. 16 in the comeback effort. If that sharpens this one up a bit, he could be tough at a nice price, too. I bet the 11 to win/place/show and then box the 11-7 in one exacta. I will key the 11 over/under the 7-10-6-8-2-3-1 in two smaller versions.

7th: 6-5-3-2…Fair Shot (6) gets top billing in this one for me. This 3YO gelded son of Trappe Shot will be making his first start for new trainer Tom Amoss, who plucked this one out of a $15,000 MCL event here on Dec. 15. Barn hits with .27% of those making the debut for the new connections, and with .27% of those making the third start off a layup. Top trainer is off to a mighty good start here this meet, as well, and puts one of the top riders on the grounds in the saddle. Adds up for me. I bet the 6 to win/place/show and then key the 6 over/under the 5-3-2.

8th: 6-4-2/7/3-5-11-1…A nice MSW event that will be contested at 7.5-furlongs over the grass course today. I will give the slight nod to Tweezer (6) — the first time starter for the barn of Brad Cox. They hit with .21% of those making the debut, and with .25% of those running for the first time ever over the grass. This one has been training lights out here and cost $164,000 last May. Gets a top rider in the irons and may be tough to handle with a clean break. On the Muscle (4) goes for a top barn, as well, and they hit with .21% of those making the first career start over the sod. This one has worked well here, too, and gets a rider who has hit with .14% of the last 21 rides for this barn. Please Sit Down (2) is another from the barn of Brad Cox. Ran fifth here in a grass sprint. Now, stretches out. Should improve off the last out, when off to a horrid start. Look for better. Could it be another Cox 1-2 finish? I bet the 6 to win/place/show and then box the top 3 numbers in the exacta. I will key the 6 over/under the 4-2-7 in two smaller ones.

9th: 1-1A/9-2/4-7-10/8-5-6…One of the two parts of the entry will most likely be scratched, since the trainer named the same rider on each. If I had my preference, I would go with Whoz Talkin Now (1A) from the barn of Karl Broberg. This one has hit the board in each of the last 7 races and has a couple of wins mixed in that group. Has only 1 win in 21 starts here, though. The entry mate is Brother Pops (1). Drops significantly in class for this one, if he stays in, but this one is 0-for-18 here at the Fair Grounds. Still, they look the best in this group. I bet the 1A-1 to win/place/show and then box the 1-1A with the 9-2. 

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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