Day Results 8 / 1-3-4
2021 Overall 102 102 / 30-35-40
Win % of Top Pick 29.41%
Payoff % of Top 3 Picks Overall 34.31%
2021 Top Pick in the Money Overall — 58-102 56.86%
2021 Top Selection ITM / TP 45-80 56.25%
2021 Top Selections Win / TP 22-80 27.50%
“Key Horses” @ TP 11 / 6-2-0 54.54% Win / 72.73% ITM
“Key Horses” in 2021 16 / 9-2-0 56.25% Win / 68.75% ITM

It was a rather dismal display of handicapping prowess on display by Team McLean on Friday night. We managed one win out of the eight races carded. Worse yet? Our top pick hit the board in only one race out of the eight that went postward.

Dismal.

Display.

We will try to do better tonight. And, as bonus coverage, we will add our selections for the Pegasus World Cup races, too. Here’s hoping we can cash a few tickets for today:

(My happy place to handicap)

Turfway Park:

1st: 1-11/5-10-(13)/6-7-9-8…Bantu (1) shows up in the bargain bin for the first time and drops from the $12,500 level all the way to the $5,000 ticket here. Barn has not won a race in — well, whenever. But this one does pick up a veteran rider who can negotiate a good trip and the class drop alone should make competitive in this environment. So Caught Up In U (11) breaks from the other extreme of the gate, but may be the horse to beat. This one ran 2nd at this level here on Jan. 2. Steady performance as the PT favorite, and the barn wins with .08% of those returning as a defeated fan’s choice. Does have two seconds in 5 tries over this track, and should improve with the 2nd shot off the layup. Barn wins with .10% of those. I bet the 1-11 across the board and then box those two in the exacta. I will key the 1-11 over/under the 5-10-13-6-7-9-8 in two smaller units. If you are looking to play the Pick 5? I may suggest two tickets. One with the 1-11 hooked, and the other using the “all button” here.

2nd: 6-8/2-4/5-1/10-11/7-9…Perfectly Majestic (6) drops significantly for this encounter tonight, for a barn that is doing a solid job here all meet long. After 38 mounts to date, the barn has a 4-4-1 record and a win rate of .11%. Last time out at this level? Won easily and impressively on Dec. 17. Bit off a little too much class last time out. Now, returns. Same rider as who got the win, too. Stalk and pounce type. Look out here. Kikinboy (8) could add some value to the exotics. This one drops in class, too, and the barn wins with .13% when getting this much relief. Was claimed two races ago for this price tag. Ran a good third that night against a horse who came right back to win the next outing, too. Like this rider switch. Chance. I bet the 6 to win/place/show and then box the 6-8 in one exacta. I will key the 6-8 over/under the 2-4-5-1-10-11-7-9 in two smaller units, and then key the 6 over/under the “all button” in two smaller. In the Pick 5? I can key the 6 in one and then spread out in the smaller ticket and use the 6-8-2-4-5-1-10-11.

3rd: 5-7-12/1/6-2-10/3-11…Smoothie (5) was claimed last November for a whopping $40,000. Has not run since and shows up tonight in a MCL event for $7,500. Need a bigger truck? Alarms sound all over the place here, but this 3YO gelded son of Upstart is getting Lasix for the first time and goes for a trainer who knows where to slot them and how to win races. Lots of races. Works are OK here and gets a red-hot rider, who is winning with a .25% clip over this strip. Have to respect. Artie’s Lady (7) ran third here at this same level last time out for a solid barn operation. Gets Lasix for the first time, too, and the barn wins with .24% when going from a route to a sprint and with .23% of those returning as a beaten favorite. Must use for me. Town Agenda (12) went extremely wide into the first turn last time out. Lost all chance with the wide trip and now returns to a sprint. Barn wins with .26% when cutting back from a route. Gets Lasix for the first time, as well. I bet the 5-7 across the board and then box the top 3 in the exacta. I will key the top 3 numbers over/under the 1 in two smaller units. In the Pick 5? I use the top 4 numbers on one ticket and the top 3 on the other.

4th: 5-3/6-10/9-8/1-2-4/7…This is a very nice claiming event for the $30,000 price point. I give the edge to Nic and Zoe (5). This one is coming off a MCL win at Arlington Park and must face winners for the first time tonight. Has not been out since September, either. Two strikes. But this one won over the AW by nearly 8 after facing much tougher in NY and the trainer is winning at a .26% clip here this meet. The work sessions over this strip are spot on. Spot. On. And, the rider has won with .23% of the last 26 mounts for this barn operation. Adds up for me. Las Ramblas (3) could spice up the odds rack here, too. This 4YO daughter of Karakontie has not been close of late. But she has been facing much, much tougher. Ran 5th in the Bourbonette Oaks here last March. Training very sharp for this return to action and the barn wins with .14% of those away from the gate this long. May need one. But fits with this drop in class. I bet the 5 to win/place/show and then box the top 2 in the exacta. I will key the 5-3 over/under the 6-10-9-8-1-2-4 in two smaller units. In the Pick 5? I go with the 5-3 on one ticket and spread to the 5-3-6-10 on one.

5th: 3-12-6/2-9-1/11-7/(14)-(13)-8…Another interesting field assembled for this MCL event that will be contested at the 1-mile distance and the asking price of $30,000. I’ll go with I’ll Make It Coach (3), who just missed here on Dec. 10. Ran third that night, but lost by less than 1/2-length and was closing fast. Winner of that one came right back to win the next outing, too. Work at KEE on Jan. 16 was solid, and a top rider takes the reins again. Look out. Bee Fast (12) drops into the MCL ranks for the first time for trainer Jack Sisterson. Ran a solid race last time out when in the MSW company here. Should improve with the class drop, and the barn is looking for the first TP win of the meet. Celestial Spin (6) came with a nice late run last time out and just missed catching our top pick in that one, too. Barn wins with .13% when routing for the 2nd time and picks up the services of one of the top riders here. Beware. I bet the 3-6 across the board and then box the top 3 in the exacta. I will key the 3-6 over/under the 12-2-9-1-11-7 in two smaller units. In the Pick 5? I use the top 3 numbers on one, and cut back to the 3-6 on the other. Got to mix/match for an affordable ticket.

6th: 9-6-1/1A-3/5-7-4-2…What a nice field of 3YOs that have been assembled here. I will go to the outside and saddle up with Medicine Tail (9). This one nearly won here at this same level on Dec. 18. Now, he will get the Lasix for the first time, and the barn wins with .17% of those. Second try off the layup, and the barn wins with .23% of those kind, too. Has not run a bad one yet, and has faced the likes of Cazadoro, Whisky Double and Pico d’Oro. Look for this one to take control early and try to hold them off. Twirling Mamba (6) ran up against the highly-touted Mandaloun last time out. Fired on all cylinders until he ran out of gas in that one. Barn wins with .29% of those that go from the dirt to the AW, and that is with a sample size of 28. The Predicament (1) moves up to face winners for the first time after drawing off here on Dec. 31. Has never missed the board in 7 starts and the addition of blinkers has seemed to help. Will be a tough out, too. I bet the 9 across the board and then box the top 3 in the exacta. I will key the top 3 over/under the 1A-3-5-7 in two smaller units. I will key the 9 over/under all the numbers listed in two smaller.

7th: 11-1-4/7/3-9-10/5-8/2-6…Lil’s Song (11) nearly won here last time out on Dec. 31, when running a very game 2nd. Just couldn’t get past the eventual winner that night. Cuts back to a sprint here, though, and the barn wins with .17% of those. Over the AW, the barn wins at a .21% rate. Gets a nice rider switch, and the works here are spot on. Catch a Thrill (1) is another from the barn of Mark Casse. This one shipped up from Gulfstream Park to run 4th here on Jan. 7. Chased and faded in that one. Should benefit from that effort and the barn wins with .17% on the third start off the layup. Gets a huge rider switch, and this jockey has won with .22% of the last 18 mounts for the trainer. Chance. Southern Mama (4) moves up to face winners for the first time after a huge 4-length win here on Jan. 1. Works are solid. Have to consider. I bet the 11 to win/place/show and then box the top 3 in the exacta. I will key the top 3 over/under the 7 in two smaller units, and then key the 11 over/under the 1-4-7-3-9-10-5-8 in two smaller.

8th: 2-4/6-3-7-5/11-10-8-1…La Negra Noche (2) gets the nod in the nightcap. This 4YO filly has not been out since she was claimed for $16,000 last September up at Arlington Park. Shows up tonight for $7,500. This one does have a 1-1-3 mark in 7 starts over an AW surface and goes for a red-hot trainer here this meet — winning at a .30% clip. Be interesting to see if she can return to her previous form, for if this is simply a fire sale. Tumbadora (4) drops from the $30,000 level to the $7,500 ranks tonight. Should benefit from that massive drop, and the barn wins with .20% when getting this kind of relief. Barn picked up its’ first win of the meet this week and this one has the look of a contender, too. Chance. I bet the 2-4 across the board and then box those two in the exacta. I will key the 2-4 over/underthe 6-3-7-5-11 in two smaller units.

Pegasus World Cup:

Turf Invitational: This is the more wide open of the two, and usually offers some real value. So, I go value shopping here. Trainer Todd Pletcher looks loaded — with a threesome that could take the show. The top two out of his barn is Colonel Liam and Largent. And, both of them have a real chance to power all the way to the wire. But I go with the third entry out of the Pletcher powerhouse — Social Paranoia. This one looks to be on the improve, and his win over the ground at Kentucky Downs last year was super impressive. Those graduates go on to win major races. And, I love the odds on this one with Luis Saez getting the mount. I bet Social Paranoia across the board and then box the three Pletcher horses in one exacta. I will key Social Paranoia over/under the “all button” in two smaller units.

World Cup Championship: I go with Knicks Go on top. This guy was super talented as a 2YO. After all, he won the Breeders’ Futurity at Keeneland. But it wasn’t until he was converted over to the barn of the brilliant Brad Cos that the colt started to truly hit his best stride. His win in the Breeders’ Cup was amazing. Perhaps the most impressive race of the two days. He looks bigger. He looks stronger. He looks quicker. He looks like a super horse in the making. I think he strides on out today. Distance? He answers that question. Code of Honor is a very good horse, too, and he does some of his best running for the HOF trainer over this track. Look for him to showcase a late run. Mr Freeze runs well fresh for trainer Dale Romans, and the horse is fresh. Could hit the board at a big price. I bet Knicks Go to win/place and then box these top 3 in the exacta. I will box Knicks Go and Code of Honor solidly in another.

Good Luck & All the Best / Gene