McLean’s Selections for the Fair Grounds on Thursday, Dec. 6

Day Results9-4-3-7
2018 Overall 1835679-654-807
Win % of Top Pick37.00%
Payoff % of Top 3 Picks Overall38.87%
Top Selection ITM / FG Nov-Mar 27-3772.97%
Top Selection Win / FG Nov-Mar 18-3748.65%
“Key Horses” @ FG Nov-Mar 8-6-2-075.00%

We are off to a nice, refreshing and summer-breeze like start down at the Fair Grounds in New Orleans. After the first 37 races, we have picked 18 winners and our top selection has hit the board 27 times. That’s a win percentage of 48.65 and “On The Board” number of 72.97. Not too shabby.

On Sunday, we not only had 4 winners on the 9 race card, but we also hit for exactas that returned $4.40, $21.70, $11.60, $10.40, $19.20, $18 and $9.90 for each $1 played.

I don’t know the chances of us being able to continue that hot streak, but we are surely going to try. Here is a closer look at today’s card:

1st: 3/9-6/5-8/1-7…The first Key Play of the Day will come in the first event of the day. Room to Finish (3) is a 4-5 ML favorite, and figures to have her own way in this group, if she is anything close to what she was while racing on the West Coast. The Louisiana-bred daughter of Giant Oak not only travels back from Del Mar, where she closed to be second in her last out in MSW company, she will be facing state-reds only for the first time. The work at Keeneland in November was very solid and she simply stands out in this group. She appears to be a deep closer on the grass, though, and will need some racing luck and some room in the stretch. If she gets it, though, she should motor past these as if they are standing still. I bet the 3 to win and then key the 3 over/under the 9-6-5-8. I key the 3 over (only) the 1-7 in two smaller versions.

2nd: 7-2/3-4-1/5-6…Trainer Joe Sharp, who is having an outstanding year with .23% winners from 451 starters, plucked Mr. Macfadden (7) from the claiming ranks last time out. Ran fifth at Churchill Downs in that one, but was second and third the two races before. Now, this 3YO gelded son of Bernardini — who’s cost $250,000 as a 2YO in May of 2017 — will get a drop again. The barn hits with .21% of those running for the new connections for the first time, and with .23% of those dropping off the claim. Winner of the last race has already come back to win, as well. Figures to rally very late in these proceedings and will need clear sailing to get up by the wire. Latrobe’s King (2) comes from the highly regarded barn of Tom Amoss. This 3YO son of Candy Ride cost $200,000 as a Keeneland September Yearling two years ago. Ran well before tiring in the last one. Now, returns as a beaten favorite and the barn hits with .29% of those. Love the work here since the last beat, and should be solid for a barn/jockey combo that have teamed up for a 3-0-1 record in their last 4 races together. Take heed. I bet the 7-2 across the board and then box those 2 solidly in one exacta. I will key the 7-2 over/under the 3-4-1 in two smaller versions.

3rd: 6-4-1/5-2-7/9…This is the second of four grass races to be contested on Wednesday, and this one has drawn a well-bunched group for the 1 mile event. I will give a slight edge to Jing (6), who will get the saddle from the Brad Cox barn. This trainer is off to a spectacular start here, with 8 trips to the winner’s circle after the first 25 races. This one will get the drop into claiming company for the first time, and the barn hits with .27% of those. Trainer hits with .29% of those running in grass races, and with .31% of those contesting the claiming ranks. Gets a top rider who has scored with .29% for this barn over the last 7 rides. Adds up for me. Dhaffera (4) will get a nice change of scenery today, as she will make her first start East of the Mississippi since she was relocated from Ireland to Santa Anita to begin this year. Ran a tiring 8th in the last race at Santa Anita on Nov. 3. Pushed the pace — like she wants to do — before tiring in that one. Now, she moves here and drops into the claiming ranks for the first time ever. New trainer hits with .07% of those making the barn debut, but this one stands out on paper and will be making the second start today off a layup. Hot rider gets the call. A big shot here if breaks well. Fetching Fury (1) could spice up the odds rack with 6-1 ML odds, that could drift North by PT. Trainer is off to a solid start here and the rider is a top apprentice with a world of talent. This one broke the maiden on debut, and will not get the grass for the first time. Trainer hits with .21% of those making the first start over the weeds. I bet the 6 across the board and then box the top 3 in one exacta. I will key the 6 over/under the 4-1-5-2-7-9 in two smaller versions.

4th: 6-1A-1/5-3/2-4…Sweet Pea Mama Ve (6) will drop into the claiming ranks for the first time today, and the barn hits with .22% of those kind. This one has made just one start since March, and that was a dull effort against much better at Evangeline Downs on Aug. 4. Off the races since then, but the barn does hit with .14% of those returning from this type of a layup. The works have been good of late, and the rider hits with .22% for this barn over the last 9 starts. Interesting. Both Cinnamon Diva (1A) and My Pepper Ann (1) have a chance to hit the board in this one, too. The duo both like to close from off the pace, and will need a little help on the front end to set it up for them. But…The former is dropping way down the class order and will be making the second start off a short layup. Ran 5th in the last out, but won the three before against tougher. The latter is moving up and has won two in a row and three of the last 4. Both get solid rider assignments and can hit the board. I will be the 1A-1 entry across the board hoping to score on both counts. I will box the entry with the 6 in the exacta. I will key the 1-6 over the 5-3 in a smaller version.

5th: 6-5-4/3-7/1-2…Because It’s Time (6) was claimed for $8,000 last time out by a top conditioner in these ranks. Will elevate this one to $15,000 today, but he figures to fit with these kind. The barn hits with .23% of those making the debut for the new connections, and with .19% of those making the third start off a layup. The new rider has hit with .21% of the last 14 mounts for this barn, and this one is versatile enough to push the pace or close from off of it. A shot here. Junket (5) will be dropping down a notch for a top barn operation, who hit with .25% of those coming back from this type of a layup. The winner of the race two back came right back to win again and this one will be running for a career low price tag. May wake up at this level today. Stand and Cheer (4) ran a really nice second three starts back and has a second and a third in 4 previous runs here. Gets a top rider in a major jock switch. Should have first run from a stalking position, if he is good enough. I bet the 6-5 across the board and then box the top 3 numbers in the exacta.

6th: 12-6/9-7-10/1-5-3-2…The third grass race on the card today, and I will go to the far outside to select my top pick — Pour Girl (12). This one will have to negotiate a better trip from an awful post at this 1-mile distance, but gets a top rider for this barn. Jock has won with .29% of the last 14 rides for this barn, and comes in with three top 3 finishes out of the last 4 races — all against much tougher completion. Will start for a career low level today and this one is a prime claim candidate in here. She has hit the board in 12 of 26 lifetime starts and has a 1-1-1 mark in 6 starts this year. Looks the best if she can get the trip. Havinfunyet (6) has won two in a row and has three seconds in a row before that. She has hit the board in 9 of the last 10 outs. Has 5 wins in 8 tries over this grass course. Should be right at home at this distance, too. Has 5 wins and 3 seconds in 10 tries at the 1-mile. The one to beat. I bet the 12-6 across the board and then box those two solidly in one exacta. I will key the 12-6 over the 9-7-10-1 in one smaller version.

7th: 8/3-1-6-4/7-5-2…My second Key Play of the Day comes here with Parade Blue (8). This 5YO Speightstown gelding is dropping into the claiming ranks for the first time ever, and will be making his first start for a new barn outfit, as well. The trainer hits with .21% of those making the barn debut, and this one has a nice third this year against much tougher at Churchill Downs back in May. If he can rediscover that form, he will be very salty in this grouping today. Gets a top rider, to boot. I bet the 8 to win/place/show and then key the 8 over/under the 3-1-6-4. I will key the 8 over (only) the 7-5-2 in a much smaller version.

8th: 11-13-7-1/10-6-8-3/9-2-12-4-5…The final grass affair of the day, and this one will be contested at the sprint distance of 5.5-furlongs. I will go to the extreme outside and pick up my top two selections in this MSW event, and I really can’t separate the two. Philosophy (11) is a 2YO colt that I put on my “Horses to Watch List” after the first time out at Keeneland in October. Had a very, very rough start to that one, and the jockey appeared to be asleep at the break. Now gets a new rider, who is having a super start to this meet and has hit with .20% of the last 10 rides for this barn. Over the last week, this rider has put up a 4-3-1 mark in 12 starts. Watch out. Jabbar (13) is another who should improve with a solid beginning today. This one comes from the barn of Tom Proctor, who is an outstanding horseman. This son of Into Mischief is a home bred and nearly won the last time out at Laurel. If he can duplicate that effort, he may be tough from a stalking position. Both will need clean breaks this time. I bet the 11-13 across the board and then box those two solidly in one exacta. I will key the 11-13 over/under the 7-1 in two smaller versions.

9th: 9-2-8/6-7-10…Today’s finale is a MCL event for Louisiana-breds only, and I will give a slight edge to Wind Zee (9) in this spot. This one is the 9-5 ML favorite, and could be a bit vulnerable, but the race two back at Evangeline Downs was very solid against open company. Now, she gets a drop to a career low price tag and will face only state-reds. Jockey has won with .22% of the last 9 starters for this barn, and the work her on Nov. 17 was spot on. Charlotte’s Wish (2) ran at this level last time out here on Nov. 22 and ran a solid second. This will mark the second start off a layup, and the barn hits with .12% of those kind. This one has three seconds in a row and should be salty in this spot today. Casey’s Doll (8) figures to have a shot, too. Ran third two times back at this level before catching an open field last time. No threat in that one, but gets a new rider that should help and the barn does hit with .14% of those making the second start off a layoff, as well. I bet the 9 to win/place/show and then box the top 3 numbers in the exacta. I will key the 9 over/under the 2-8-6-7-10 in two smaller versions.

Good Luck & All the Best/Gene

Going to the three-eighths pole, I went to go around Javier [Castellano, aboard New Money Honey, No. 3] and he went out so I had to travel a little bit wider from the five-sixteenths pole to the quarter-pole,” said Velazquez. “It cost me a little bit down the lane to get her back into rhythm. She switched leads late but when she final did, she gave me that spur down the lane to get down there in time. She’s a very good filly. She just has to put it together at the start and break better, but she’s definitely talented.”

John Velazquez, Rider of the winner Sistercharlie
  • 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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