Gene McLean's Picks

Sunday, August 28, 2022


1st: 10-4/9-1-3/2-6/7-8/5…Bad Decisions (10) gets the nod in the ole’ lid-lifter down at the “Pea Patch” on “Closing Day.” This 3YO son of Tiznow drops from the $30,000 level all the way to the $16,000 mark here. Drop should help this one find a softer spot and he does have a 2nd at Churchill Downs against much, much tougher. If he can rediscover that form? Look out. T Money (4) has been out 6 times already, but does have a 2nd and a 3rd on the resume. Is coming off a 4th place finish against the likes of these. Came lake in that one as the PT favorite and the runner-up has already come back to win the next time out. Don’t know the rider. But? In three mounts so far, has a win and a 2nd. Not bad for the apprentice. I bet the 10-4 across the board and then box these two in the exactas. I will key the 10-4 over/under the 9-1-3-2-6 in two smaller units.

2nd: 3-9-1/6-2-5/7-8-10/4…Urgent Fury (3) will move from the sod to the main track here for a barn operator having a superb meet. Wins with .19% making this surface switch. Gets a red-hot rider, who has teamed up with this trainer to go 2-1-1 in the last 7 outs. This one ran very well n the debut and could make the circle here, if he takes to the main surface. Giannis (9) will make the career debut and the barn operator wins with .24% in the MSW ranks. Breeding suits this distance and the barn is 4-0-1 in the last 12 outs. Works are spot on. Huge threat here. Pensacola (1) gets a tough draw for a first timer. But the barn has won with .20% of 143 starts this year and this one gets a really good gate rider up. Sire wins with .16% on first ask, too. I bet the 3-9 across the board and then box the top 3 in the exactas. I will key the 3-9 over/under the 1-6-2-5 in two smaller units.

3rd: 2-4-6/1-3/5…Impressed (2) was claimed three starts ago for $25,000 and now is back and offered up for $16,000 here. Should like this class drop and the barn wins with .19% when falling this much at one time. Gets a top rider up. David’s Gem (4) is another from the same barn operation as our top pick. This one drops in here, as well and gets a veteran rider to take the mount. Like the work on Aug. 17 at Churchill Downs. Has a win in three tries at this distance. Game Boy Benny (6) won the last time out and now will move up the charts here. rider can muscle them early and this one has some speed to use. I bet the 2-4 across the board and then box the top 3 in the exactas. I will key the top 3 numbers over/under the 1-3 in two softer units. 

4th: 5-7-10/1/4-9/8/2-3-6…Mullion (5) is a first timer for the barn of Brad Cox, who is winning at a .25% rate this meet — which is exactly the same percentage as he has for the year in 566 starts. The meet’s go-to rider is back from Del Mar and takes the ride here. The “Pea Patch” is another track where the turf meets the surf. Sorta. Sire wins with .16% on first ask. Dam has 2 winners from 2 starters and has already tossed a Stakes winner, as well. Nice works of late. Watch out. Single Ruler (7) has been working lights out here and while the barn only wins with .07% on debut, this one may be able to hunt. Dam of this one has 5 winners from 6 starters and a Stakes winner. Clear the Air (10) is a third first time starter that rates a big shot in here. This one is working well, as well, and the barn has won with 1 of 4 on first time. Dam of this one has a winner from 2 starters. Barn has won with .40% on sprints. I bet the 5 across the board and then box the top 3 in the exactas. I will key the top 3 numbers over/under the 1 in two smaller units. 

5th: 6-7/1-4/2-5/3…Twilight (6) has not been close of late, but drops to a career low price tag on this one, which is the 2nd start for the trainer. Barn wins with .18% of those kind. Comes off an extended layup, too, and the barn wins with .21% on the 2nd try back. Gets a top rider, who is winning at a .22% clip this meet. Works are spot on here, of late. Big shot. Moonshine Dreamer (7) had hit the board in 3 straight before the last outing. Was bumped and knocked off-stride at the beginning of that one and was never able to make the lead — which this gal prefers. Big time. Toss the last and this one fits nicely. I bet the 6-7 across the board and then box these two sternly in the exactas. I will key the 6-7 over/under the 1-4-2-5 in two smaller units.

6th: 5/10/3-7/4/1-6-8/9…The first “Key Play of the Day” comes here with Twice as Sweet (5). This 2YO daughter of Candy Ride nearly won the debut here on Aug. 5. Lead the entire way until the final jump. Returns here on the grass and the barn wins with .13% on the first turf try. New rider could help this one finish what she starts. Looks formidable on paper. I bet the 5 across the board and then box the 5-10 sternly in the exactas. I will key the 5 over/under the 10-3-7-4 in the exactas. More with the 10 than the rest. 

7th: 3/11/2-6-8-4/9-1/10…The second “Key Play of the Day” comes in back-to-back fashion and with Flight Fiercely (3). This 2YO son of Twirling Candy has run well in both career starts and nearly won last time out here on July 22. Returns as a beaten favorite here and the barn wins with .35% when going from two sprints into the first route race. Look out here. Could be a real good one. Barn wins with .26% on first route efforts. I bet the 3 across the board and then box the 3-11 in the exactas. I will key the 3 over/under the 11-2-6-8-4 in the exactas. More with the 11 — again.

8th: 5-9-6/1-7-8/3/4/2…The final race of the meet will be a 11/16-mile turf event for the MSW level and I ante up with Buehler’s Day Off (5). This 3YO gelded son of Anchor Down lost by just a neck when the race was shifted to the main track here on July 10. Has three 3rds in a row to begin the career and should enjoy a return to the sod. Grand Cay (9) travels to town from Saratoga to the “Saratoga of the South.” This 3YO son of Uncle Mo has a couple of 3rds over the grass dotting the resume. Comes from well off the pace and will need to get motivated a bit earlier than normal to catch the front runners. Classy pedigree, being from a Stakes-winning mare. Heeding (6) gets the blinkers for the first time and does have two very close 2nds out of the first 3 efforts. Toss the last one. Bumped at the start and never got engaged. Could improve here at some decent odds. I bet the 5-9 across the board and then box the top 3 in the exactas. I will key the 5-9 over/under the 6-1-7-8 in two smaller units.

Good Luck & All the Best / Gene





About the Author: 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 the vision for the site and still finds time to handicap races, interview trainers and keep his finger on the pulse of the industry, More About Gene.