(Gene McLean with Diamond Solitaire / Photo by Holly M. Smith)

Total Day Results 8 / 2-0-4
2021 Overall 1,820 1820 / 683-645-852
Win % of Top Pick 37.53%
Payoff% of Top 3 Picks Overall 39.93%
2021 Top Pick in the Money Overall — 1,230-1,820 67.58%
2021 Top Selection ITM / TP 18-32 56.25%
2021 Top Selections Win / TP 12-32 37.50%
“Key Horses” @ TP 2 / 0-1-0 00.00% Win / 50.00% ITM
“Key Horses” in 2021 275/ 124-62-24 45.09% Win / 76.36% ITM
“Longshots of Day” @ TP 5 / 0-0-2 00.00% Win / 40.00% ITM
“Longshots of Day” @IGR (11-11-21) 21/4-1-0 19.095% Win / 23.81% ITM
“Longshots of the Day” @ SAR (8-28-21) 4/0-2-0 00.00% Win / 50.00% ITM
“Longshots of the Day” @ KY Downs 19/2-1-2 10.53% Win / 26.20% ITM
“Key Horses” @ Breeders’ Cup 2/1-0-0 50.00% Win / 50.00% ITM
“Longshots of the Day” @ Breeders’ Cup : 2 / 1-0-1 50.00% Win / 100.00% ITM

Managed just a couple of winners on Thursday night’s card. And, one of those came in the first offering. After that? Slim pickings.

Did have three Exactas, and one of those rendered a handsome $45.70 and another $19.70 for each $1 played correctly. We did play correctly. We did play more than the minimum. Thank goodness.

We are hoping to up our ante and our game a bit after a chilly start to this meet. We are winning with an OK percentage on the front end. Just not nailing down much in the exotics, as of yet.

Tough place to handicap.

Tougher place to win.

But that makes it worth it, too, when you do manage a good night at the oval.

Here’s our looks for Friday Night’s Lights:

1st: 4/5-6-8/7/3-2-1…The first “Key Play of the Night” comes in the ole’ lid-lifter here over the Tapeta and at the “new and improved” Turfway Park. And…it comes with Lapis Storm (4), a 5YO Stormy Atlantic mare, who is coming in off a very nice win at Hawthorne Park in the last go. In 8 tries over an AW surface, this one has a 4-1-1 mark and is a perfect 1-for-1 at Turfway Park. The barn wins with .33% of the 424 starters this year, and with .41% of those trying to repeat in the claiming ranks. Looks fastest. Can she hold on? I will be the 4 to win/place/show and then key 4 over/under the numbers listed. More with the 4-6-8-7 than the rest.

2nd: 10-1-5/7-6/8-3/9-2-4…Overthought (10) has hit the board in the last four outings and has 2 seconds and 2 thirds in the first 5 starts. Barn is winning at a .21% clip in 602 starts this year. Gets the hottest rider in NA up. Through the first 17 mounts this meet, this guy has an 8-1-1 record. That factors out to a .47% win percentage. Will be coming late. Stay tuned. Slim Slow Slider (1) goes for the barn of Wesley Ward, who normally tears them a new one at this track and during this meet. This 2YO is a first-time gelding, and may appreciate the mind correction. The barn introduces a new rider here, and that is not unusual. Be interesting how this new pairing goes. Barn wins with .34% over the AW. Meataball (5) could add some spice to the odds rack here. This one drops from the $25,000 asking price to the $15,000 level here. Makes the first start for the new barn operator, too. Gets an experienced hand on the reins and this 2YO gelding does have a 2nd and a 3rd in 4 tries over the AW. Chance. I bet the 10-1 across the board and then box the top 3 in the exactas. I will key the top 3 numbers over/under the 7-6 in two smaller units.

3rd: 11/5-12/1-4-8-9/2-10/6-7-(13)…The second of our “Key Plays of the Night” comes here with the outside posted Lilac Girl (11). This 3YO daughter of Quality Road comes from a great breeding tradition. The dam was Stakes-placed and is by Dynaformer. That should enable this one to adjust to the AW with no issues. Has debuted with two very impressive 2nds at Belmont Park to begin the career. Both of those came over the grass and this one flashed both speed and spirit. Could be a huge winner in this spot, with the meet’s leading rider up for the guidance. I bet the 11 to win/place and then key the 11 over/under the 5-12-1-4-8-9-2 in two smaller units. I will key the 11 over (only) all the numbers in one more try.

4th: 2-9/1-6-7/4/3-8…Lend It Tewmey (2) is a clever name, and this 3YO colt looks poised to finally break the maiden and move to the winner’s circle for the first time. Has 3 seconds and 2 thirds in the first 9 starts. Will drop to half the asking price here and an all-time lowest tag. Should be a huge favorite, but should run a huge effort, too. Pro Bono (9) may be a bit over-bet in this spot. This 3YO gelding ran poorly here on Dec. 2. Drops to half that price here, and this barn wins with only .08% when it does that. Rider is winless this meet, too. Does have some speed. But he needs to be able to finish what he starts. I’m skeptical here. I bet the 2 across the board and then key the 2 over/under the 9-1-6-7-4 in the exactas. 

5th: 6-8-3/(13)-1-7/2-10-(14)/9-11…My Lily Mae (6) is my first “Longshot Special of the Night.” This one is listed at 8-1 in the ML, according to my great friends over at Brisnet.com. But this 2YO daughter of Sky Mesa should be made for the AW. Ran 2nd by a skinny neck on debut at Churchill Downs. That was way back in May, though, and the barn does coach them to a .19% win rate off the layup. I like the rider choice and I will favor this one. Storm Kiss (8) is the horse to beat, for sure. This 2YO daughter of Quality Road will be making the career debut for a top connection here. Trainer has won with .29% this year and with .30% with first time starters. Works are spot on over this track, too. Have to use this one. Just have to. Looks spot on here. I bet the 6-8 across the board and then box the top 3 numbers in the exactas. I will key the 6-8 over/under the 3-13-1-7-2-10-14 in two smaller units.

6th: 3-4-11/9/2-7/5-6/1-8-10…Moonlight Rain (3) goes for the barn of Mark Casse, and ships in for this Tapeta try after running over the AW up at Woodbine, in Canada. in 13 previous tries over the AW, this one has a 4-2-2 mark. But? Zero-for-4 across the board here. Hmmm. Interesting. Gets the meet’s top rider for the first time here and is coming off a very solid two races in a row. Mixed signals, but got to figure this one has a shot. Bethabara (4) goes for my great friend Michelle Lovell. Ran a nice one against much, much tougher at Churchill downs last time out. Barn wins with .20% when dropping this much at one time and with .18% of those going from back-to-back sprints into a route race. Dance the Day Away (11) will have to negotiate a trip from the outside. Last time the one broke from this post position, it was here on Dec. 19 a year ago. Ran awful and beaten many that day. But that was a long time ago, and in 7 previous runs here, this one does have 2 wins. Ran well at Presque Isle last time out, and does have 7 wins in 16 tries over the AW. I bet the 3-4 across the board and then box the top 3 in the exactas. I will key the top 3 numbers over/under the 9 in two smaller units. 

7th: 3-2-5/8-10/1-9-11-12/6-7…Salty as Can Be (3) is a very solid price in the ML, and I absolutely love the way this daughter of Into Mischief comes into this fray. This one cost $850,000 to purchase at the Fasig-Tipton August Sale in 2019. Has won $104,000 int the career so far. But has only 5 tries. This will be the 4th try in a row over the AW. Has a win and a third in the first 3. Last time out, this one was a better-than-looks 4th in a Stakes at Woodbine. Trainer wins with .21% over the AW. I’m in. Empress Eleanor (2) is likely to be the PT favorite. This one goes for a barn that wins with .16% when going from the turf to the AW surface. Ran 4th last time out at KEE. But this one had hit the board in 4 of the previous 5 outs, including a couple of wins. Has talent. Will run. Big shot. I Hear You (5) ran in the G3 Dowager last time out. That was a bit ambitious, to stay the least. Ran 10th in that affair and was no threat after the first half of that marathon. Cuts back to more realistic distance and terms here. Gets a good rider up and this one has talent. Will try the AW for the first time. If she can adapt? Chance. I bet the 3-2 across the board and then box the top 3 numbers in the exactas. I will key the top 3 numbers over/under the 8-10 in two smaller units. 

8th: 1-7/3/2-6-11-5/4-8…The night’s finale is a toss-up, IMO, between the top three numbers. A little edge goes to Aftermath (1), who comes in for trainer Larry Rivelli. Drops from the $25,000 claiming ranks to the $7,500 level here. Ran 2nd last time out, too. If she brings her game down from Chicago? Look out. Gets a top rider up, who has won at a .25% clip for this barn over the last 60 days. I get on board here. Beartoe (7) will drop from the $50,000 ranks all the way to the $7,500 tag. That’s a huge amount of class relief. But…this one may need it all. Has run two horrible ones in a row against much, much tougher. Connections bred this son of Union Rags. Not much to show for their effort, so far. But? Chance with this class drop. I bet the 1 across the board and then key the 1 over/under the 7-3-2-6-11-5-4-8 in the exactas. 

Good Luck & All the Best / Gene