Kristufek's Saratoga Scouting Report: Aug. 1 Kentucky Horses
As the racing analyst at Churchill Downs, it’s my job to provide information you can’t necessarily read in the past performances. I keep detailed track bias, pace and trip notes for every race, every day, and that information can prove to be quite valuable, particularly when horses travel from one circuit to another.
For the entirety of the Saratoga meet, I will provide “scouting reports” for the horses who raced in Kentucky in their most recent start.
#4 Windcracker 4-1 ML
In his career debut on June 27 at Churchill, Windcracker was bothered at the start, losing three lengths. In the clear in the two-path while stalking a contested pace, he was hung five-wide on the turn and sustained that bid to the wire, finishing a solid third behind the 7-5 favorite. In a race full of promising first-time starters, this guy has experience to lean on. For multi-race purposes, I’d likely use this guy and a couple of the under-the-radar debuters.
#6 King Cause 10-1 ML
Off an 11-week layoff on May 25 at Churchill, King Cause broke alertly and was covered up at the rail early while stalking a slow pace. In traffic on the turn he steadied and got shuffled back. He rallied off heels and was stuck in tight down the stretch but he still ran on nicely to finish second behind a talented and advantaged, front-running winner. He’s better than he’s ever been and it’s legit. At 10-1 in the morning line, he’s a must-use in the multi-race wagers and a horse that I look very forward to playing on his own.
#2 Searing Chase 6-1 ML
Bet down to odds of 9-2 in a field of 12 in his career debut on July 8 at Keeneland, Searing Chase stalked a fast pace in a strung-out field while in the clear. He made a bold run while five-wide on the turn, but failed to sustain the bid. I have mixed feelings about this big ticket item, who did not make his first start until late in the 4-year-old season. #3 Dreams of Tomorrow looks like a viable single, but if you’re against him, spread fairly deep and include this guy.
#2 Motion Emotion 20-1 ML
In the June 27 Fleur de Lis (G2) at Churchill, Motion Emotion lost a couple lengths at the start, enjoyed a perfect spying trip behind a fast pace, and finished a distant second to Midnight Bisou while under a hand ride late. As expected, Serengeti Empress made the lead, but she was not good on this day and the rest of the field was weak to begin with. This gal’s chances of turning the tables are slim, to none.
#3 Midnight Bisou 2-5 ML
Away from the races four months following her fantastic second -place run in the Saudi Cup, Midnight Bisou went to the post as the odds-on favorite in the Fleur de Lis at Churchill, and she did not disappoint. Racing in the clear behind a fast pace while three-wide, she made a monster move on the turn and rallied to the lead while still in hand. She took full command and was eased at the sixteenth pole. She’s an obvious single in the multi-race wagers, with #6 Point of Honor having the only true chance to possibly give her a run for her money.
#3 Cool Bobby 5-1 ML
In what was his second race back off an 8 1/2 month layoff, Cool Bobby pressed a fast pace over a sloppy, one-turn mile. He cleared in hand on the turn, responded when asked and was kept to task until late, when he was then eased under the wire. He defeated only four rivals that day and the odds-on favorite did struggle, but it was an impressive performance nonetheless. He more than earned the class hike and 7 furlongs should be right up his alley. Must use.
#7 Everfast 2-1 ML
In what was his second start back off a seven-month layoff on May 23 at Churchill, Everfast was stuck in tight between horses early in the one-turn mile Blame Stakes. Chasing a fast pace, he loomed boldly on the turn, stuck a head in front down the stretch and dug in gamely, only to lose a narrow decision to the deep-closing Owendale over a racetrack that favored that type of runner. Seven weeks later he tried turf for the first time in the Maker’s Mark Mile (G1) at Keeneland. Off to an awkward start, he sat an advantageous, pocket trip over a turf course that slightly favored speed, but failed to kick late in what was a very ambitious spot. He returns to the main track, and based on his effort in the Blame, today’s 7-furlong distance should suit him well. Also a must-use.
#8 Modern Science 7-2 ML
Bet down to 5-2 favoritism in his career debut on July 4 at Ellis, Modern Science trailed a slow pace while far back in last. In no hurry, he eventually rallied between horses while three-wide off the turn to grab the show dough. The turf rail was out 24 feet, the course favored speed, and this was certainly a lesson-learning experience for this $400,000 son of top turf sire Galileo. The Ellis Park running line will turn some people off, but he must be considered armed and dangerous in this one.
#10 Habitus 3-1 ML
In his career debut on July 9 at Keeneland, Habitus broke slowly, losing five lengths. Last early in a strung-out field of 12 while chasing an honest pace, he was hung four-wide on the turn and then rallied stoutly down the stretch. It was a promising debut, and he should certainly handle the added distance. He’s a must-use, and you might be able to lock down the race by using 8 and 10.
#8 Reigning Spirit 5-2 ML
In his second career start off a nine-week layoff on May 31 at Churchill, Reigning Spirit was off slowly, losing two lengths at the start. Chasing a slow pace near the back of a tightly bunched pack, he was hung four-wide before finding himself in tight at the rail in the stretch. He eventually won the place battle behind an advantaged, gate-to-wire winner over a slightly forward course. In the follow-up start four weeks later, he was bothered at the start, losing valuable early position. Racing in the clear near the back of a strung-out field while chasing a fast pace, he was hung six-wide on the turn and followed the winner home while finishing well. That winner returned to take a first-level turf allowance at Ellis in his very next start. The distance suits and he fits well with these, but at 5-2 in the morning line I certainly wouldn’t lean on him.
#1 By My Standards 9-2 ML
In the Stephen Foster (G2) on June 27 at Churchill, By My Standards was not aggressively ridden away from the gate and was shuffled a bit behind a slow pace while three-wide early. He made his move at the top of the stretch, followed the winner home, and was clearly second best. In perhaps what was the best effort of his career, he proved to be no match for Tom’s d’Etat. I’m not sure how that narrative changes today.
#5 Tom’s d’Etat 6-5 ML
Off a 10-week break in the Stephen Foster on June 27 at Churchill, Tom’s d’Etat broke alertly and fell into a perfect, pressing trip through slow fractions. He responded when asked and drew off impressively under a mild hand ride. At the age of seven, his continued improvement has been nothing short of extraordinary. He’s proven at Saratoga and is well drawn on the outside with an honest pace expected in front of him. If he holds his form, the rest of these are running for second.
#10 Miss Gossip 12-1 ML
Off a 7 1/2-month layoff on May 28 at Churchill, Miss Gossip raced in the clear in a well-bunched pack while chasing an honest pace and she sustained her bid to the wire. Three weeks later in a similar spot, she sat on the rail near the back of the pack behind a contested pace, was clear on the turn and hung seven-wide and finished well. She has a win on the Saratoga turf course and is in excellent form. I think either #2 I’llhandalthecash or #7 Dalika, both of whom ran monster races sprinting on turf at Churchill, will win this, but at 12-1 in the morning line, this gal offers value.