Day Results 8/1-4-4
2019 Overall 1,545 1,545/537-556-685
Win % of Top Pick 34.76%
Payoff % of Top 3 Picks Overall 38.36%
2019 Top Pick in the Money –1,004 of 1,545 64.98%
Top Selection ITM / TP Holiday 57-104 54.81%
Top Selection Win / TP Holiday 34-104 32.69%
“Key Horses” @ TP Holiday 11-6-1-0 54.55%
“Key Horses” in 2019 226-89-44-22 39.38%

We had only one win upon the return to racing after the annual Christmas extravaganza. Only one, single, lump of little coal. Not much to cheer about as Santa made a victory lap before entering the winner’s circle of the North Pole.

But…

There’s always a “but,” right?

In this case, a good one. A very good one.

On Thursday night, we did manage to finish with a bit of a flurry. And, not the snowflake kind, either. In the 7th race, we hit the exacta that returning a whopping $90.30 for every $1 wagered. In the 8th and final, we hit our “Upset Special of the Night,” which paid out a handsome $26.80 for each $2 played across the board and hammered the last exacta that returned $43.80 for each $1 played.

Sweet Home Alabama. Or something like that.

Turned a dismal performance into a night of jubilation.

Turned coal into gold.

Turned bad into good tidings of good joy.

Here’s a closer look at Friday’s card, as we attempt to keep the good times going:

1st: 2-8/9/4-6-7…Sofia’s Slugger (2) comes from the barn of Larry Rivelli, who has won with .32% of the 411 starters in 2019. This one ran at this level here on Dec. 6. Led the entire way until the wire, when caught late. Returns for the same 1-mile distance and should benefit from a bullet work at Hawthorne on Dec. 17. If the leading rider can milk a little more ground out of this one and relax a bit on the lead, he should prove tough to catch this time. Jackpot Kitten (8) is a 2YO daughter of Kitten’s Joy, who will take on the boys in this one. Ran against open company here on debut Dec. 12. Came with a rush to be 4th after a disastrous beginning. Was 6-wide in that affair. The barn hits with .22% of those running in the MCL ranks and with .17% of those making a route distance for the first time. I bet the 2 to win/place/show and then box he 2-8 in one exacta. I will key the 2-8 over/under the 9 in two smaller versions. I will key the 2 over/under all the numbers in two more, as well.

2nd: 9/3-7/6-5/4…The first Key Play of the Day comes here with Champagne Bling (9). This 4YO Too Much Bling filly will be dropping to the bottom after running a competitive 4th here on Dec. 14 against much tougher. Barn hits with .30% when dropping this much at one time, and with .23% of those making the 2nd start after a claim. Should be very tough at this level, for a barn operation having a very solid Holiday Meet. I bet the 9 to win/place and then key the 9 over/under all the numbers listed in the exactas.

3rd: 8-2-3/10-1/4-6-9…I Saw Her First (8) made a solid impression here on Dec. 4 when running for this barn operation for the first time. That was the first start in two months and now will get the meet’s top rider back in the saddle — again. Moves up a class order, and the barn hits with .33% of those kind. Also will be making the 2nd start off a layup, and the trainer scores with .22% of those. Looks to fit very well with this group at 5-1 odds. Barton Hall (2) didn’t run a step here on Dec. 18, but if you toss that one, she has three 3rd-place finishes in a row against much tougher. Barn hits with .20% of those dropping this much in one swoop. Gets a top rider here this meet. Will be closing in the deep stretch. Her Giant (3) has a second in only previous run over the all-weather surface. That came here on Dec. 5. Was very wide that day and now gets a new rider in the irons. Pilot certainly could help this one here. I bet the 8 to win/place/show and then box the top 3 numbers in one exacta. I will key the top 3 numbers over under the 10-1 in two smaller versions.

4th: 2-3-5/6-7/8-9…Shorely (2) was calimed last time out on Nov. 7 at Churchill Downs. Was distanced that day and now returns with a huge drop in class. Barn hits with .17% of those making the first start after a purchase. The drop is concerning. To be sure. But the work here on Dec. 19 was OK. In 7 previous starts, has a 2-2-1 resume. If OK, this one could bounce back with a big effort. Worth a shot here. Hooray for Harvey (3) was claimed last tim out and the new barn operation hits with .12% of those making the debut for the new connections. Barn also hits with .19% of those that go from a sprint, to a route, and back to a sprint. In only previous run here, had a nice second. Could be a tough out in this spot. Midland (5) will drop in class for this event tonight. Barn hits with .17% of those moving from the dirt to the all–weather surface. Dragon Drew (6) is a former Stakes winner for Buff Bradley. Ran a very tough 3rd last time out. Look for more tonight with the experience now over the all-weather. I bet the 6 — take note — to win/place/show. I key the 6 over/under all the numbers listed. I go solid on the 6.

5th: 6-4-(13)/12-2/1-10-7/11-3-8-(14)…Yellen (6) is a 2YO Fed Biz filly owned by the CJ Thoroughbreds group. This one was purchased for $60,000 at the KEE April 2YO Sale in 2019. Had an OK run over the sod at KY Downs two starts ago. Most pedestrian in the other tries. Drops in class for this one and the barn its having a super meet here with .36% winners from the first 14 starters. Look for a run out of this one. The same barn will also send out Seagal (4)  in this one. This is a 2YO daughter of American Pharoah and cost $162,000 to purchase at the OBS April Sale. Ran well on debut, but the last two were ho-hum. Work here on Dec. 14 was lights out, though. Look for this one to show up tonight. I bet the 4 — take note — to win/place/show and then box the top 3 in one exacta. I will key the 6-4 over/under the 12-2-1-10-7-11 in two smaller versions.

6th: 5-8/7-9-6-3/4-10-1-12/11…King of Fortune (5) has two 3rd place finishes to show for the first 3 starts of the career. Was the beaten favorite last time out here on Dec. 4. Instead of finishing that work, backed away at the end of a 11/4-mile event. May relish the back-up to a 1-mile distance today. The barn hits with .22% that return as a beaten favorite. Barn also scores with .21% of those that run over the all-weather. Red Sorrell (8) is another from the same barn as our top pick. This one has made 10 lifetime starts, with 3 seconds and 2 thirds. Distances against much tougher at Churchill Downs last time out. Gets a new rider, who just so happens to be the meet’s top jockey. Look at the work here on Dec. 14. Nice. I bet the 5-8 across the board and then box those two solidly in one exacta. I will key the 5-8 over/under the 7-9-6-3-4 in two smaller versions.

7th: 3-12-1/9-(13)/6-4-10/5-11-8…Psalmody (3) will get her second start over the all-weather surface tonight after running a distant 3rd here in a Stakes event on Dec. 6. Gets a nice drop in class for this one, and if she can find her forward at Belmont — when she won on Sept. 15 — she will be a tough out in this spot. Gets the meet’s top rider up. Comes off a powerhouse work in late November. Jockey has 6 wins in the last 22 rides. Heads up. Coco Channel (12) has a win in two previous runs here. Ran 5th in the G3 Mint Julep Stakes at Churchill Downs in June, and was beaten less than 4 by Mom’s On Strike. Like the work at KEE on Dec. 5. Chance. True Dream (1) has a win over this track in only previous run here. Barn hits with .25% of those moving from the dirt to the AW. Deep closer will need some room late, but could be a threat at the wire. I bet the 3-1 across the board and then box the top 3 numbers in one exacta. I will key the 3-1 numbers over/under the 12-9-(13)-6-4-10 in two smaller versions.

8th: 12-10-6/9-14-8…Tonight’s finale is a wide, wide, wide open affair, but I will give a slight edge to News Box (12), despite the outside post position. This 4YO gelded son of Ice Box looked to be a winner in the last out when he tried at the wire. This will be the second try over the AW and that should help. Dujac (10) is my Upset Special of the Night. This 7YO gelding ran poorly here last time out, but that was the first try since June. Ran well for a bit and then tired. Now, this one gets the meet’s top rider and if you look three starts ago, this one nearly won against much, much better. Either real good or real bad. I’m going with real good night at a price. Stately Oak (6) faltered in the last outing. But the three races before that one were all very good efforts. Has a 2-1-1 mark in 9 starts over the AW and won here in Dec. 2018. Like the way this one comes in. I bet the 12-10 across the board and then box the top 3 numbers in the exacta. I will key the 12-10 over/under the 6-9-14-8 in two smaller versions.

Good Luck & All the Best / Gene