Saratoga & Del Mar Scouting Report: Kentucky Horses for Aug. 6
After a couple of slow days for Kentucky invaders to start the racing week, there are many to evaluate on the Friday card at both Saratoga and Del Mar, including Next, who I like quite a bit in the National Museum of Racing Hall of Fame (G2) on grass.
Due to a complete revamp of the turf course, the Churchill Downs backstretch is completely vacant this summer, and many of those horses have taken up residence at Saratoga.
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.
#3 Laynlomakndough (10-1 ML) – Live longshot; sneaky A in multi-race wagers
After finishing fourth in grass starts at Gulfstream and Keeneland to begin her career, this sophomore daughter of Bodemeister tested the Churchill lawn on May 8. Covered up at the rail midpack while chasing moderate fractions over the nine-furlong distance, she was shuffled back off the turn for home. She rallied off heels late and just missed behind the winner, who simply got the jump on her over a turf course that favored off the pace types. Six weeks later in her first and only start on dirt, she was hung four wide on the first turn before settling in at the back of the pack. Chasing slow fractions while covered up at the rail, she got a dream run inside and got up for second behind the impressive gate-to-wire winner. She fits well enough as a maiden, and if she were to win, she could actually run back at the same level under the “non-winners of two races” condition.
#4 Answer In (9-5 ML) – Top win contender; A and possible single in multi-race wagers
This 4-year-old son of Dialed In ran twice during the Churchill Downs spring meet, and somewhat circumstantially, the results were very different. On May 27, he lost two lengths at the start over a racetrack that slightly favored speed. Racing in the clear while trailing early, he made a bold move while still in hand on the turn for home. Hung nine wide, he finished with energy, but simply had too much to do. He broke much better four weeks later, and sat an advantageous trip in the catbird’s seat behind a hotly contested pace. He gained momentum in hand while hung six wide on the turn for home, and rolled by in the stretch.
#7 Hot Anna (5-2 ML) – Gimmick player; willing to fade in multi-race wagers at a short price
Entered at this level for her career debut on June 24 at Churchill, she broke a bit awkwardly at the start but raced in the clear thereafter behind a hot pace. She stayed on late while not threatening the top pair.
#8 Cavalry Charge (12-1 ML) – Live longshot; sneaky A in multi-race wagers
This four-year-old gelded son of Honor Code took his game to a new level when switched over to the turf late last spring, and he ran the best race of his life last out when returning from a 9 1/2-month layoff. Away alertly, he went right to the lead and set moderate fractions. In hand on the turn, he responded when asked and drew off as much the best.
#1 Forty Under (8-1 ML) – Gimmick player; B in multi-race wagers
A graded stakes winner at age two, this lightly raced five-year-old Uncle Mo gelding recently returned off a year-plus layoff at Churchill. Breaking alertly from the rail in a deep field, he sat an advantageous pocket trip behind tepid fractions. He popped out in the stretch and stayed on well to finish third behind a classy foe who has since returned to score again.
#10 No Word (4-1 ML) – Gimmick player; willing to fade in multi-race wagers
Over a turf course that slightly favored speed at Keeneland on November 6, this son of Silent Name was sent off as the lukewarm 7-2 favorite against 13 rivals. Covered up at the rail while stalking a moderate pace over a turf course that slightly favored speed, he got a dream run at the rail. Incredibly, despite finishing ninth, he was only beaten two lengths. Todd Pletcher is great off the layoff, but this colt likely to be an underlay despite the outside post in what will be his first start against older horses.
#1a Empty Tomb (8-1 ML) (MTO) – Based on the weather forecast, this race will not come off the turf
Cut back to a one-turn mile on May 22 at Churchill, this five-year-old son of Speightstown made the lead through very moderate splits for the distance. He dug in when challenged, and held firm to the wire in what was an advantaged run. Ambitiously placed in the Stephen Foster (G2) in his follow-up start, he broke alertly and set an honest pace, but he was unable to finish with his classy rivals late.
#5 In Effect (20-1 ML) – Gimmick stretch; C in multi-race wagers.
Off an eight-month layoff on May 16 at Churchill, this son of Dialed In lost four lengths at the start. Trailing all 10 rivals early behind an even early pace while in the clear, he was hung six wide on the turn while passing a handful of beaten rivals. Dropped in for $75K tag in his follow-up start four weeks later, he once again broke slowly, losing two lengths. He made a bold move into an honest pace while in hand nearing the turn for home, rallied off heels at the top of the stretch, and got up right on the line in a performance worth noting. Somewhat ambitiously placed in the American Derby at Arlington last out, he chased tepid fractions, and closed with some energy late to be fourth at 20-1. This is an even tougher spot, and he’d do well to earn a minor award.
#7 Next (7-2 ML) – Top win contender – A and sneaky single in multi-race wagers
In his sophomore debut off a six-month layoff in the American Turf (G2) on Kentucky Derby Day at Churchill, this son of Not This Time spied a fast pace and put his head in front on the turf before faltering badly over a turf course that slightly favored off the pace types. Seven weeks later, he was supplemented to the War Chant Stakes, which scratched down to just four runners. He was hammered down to second choice very late in the wagering, and it was obviously very smart money. He cleared easily, set a slow pace, found another gear in the stretch, and won under a hand ride.
#3 Core Beliefs (15-1 ML) – Live longshot; A along with Night Ops in multi-race wagers
Following a major clunker in the Champions Day Marathon at Churchill last September, this six-year-old son of Quality Road disappeared for more than nine months. He returned to action on June 18, and ran even better than the third-place finish would indicate. He broke alertly, but was bothered on the first turn and hung four-wide. Stalking in the clear behind fast fractions, he made a bold move on the turn for home and was hung five wide. Bothered during his stretch rally, he evened out late in a race he expected to need to begin with and settled for third.
#4 Art Collector (3-1 ML) – Willing to fade in multi-race wagers
In his four-year-old debut off a 7 1/2-month layoff on June 25 at Churchill, this son of Bernardini was sent off as the 6-5 favorite in the Kelly’s Landing over seven furlongs. From the outside of nine gates, he broke out at the start, losing four lengths. He raced in the clear thereafter, but never made a serious bid into a legitimate pace. He stretches back out, but at a short price, he needs to prove himself to me all over again.
#6 Bourbon War (15-1 ML) – Gimmick stretch; stretch C in multi-race wagers.
A two-turn horse his entire career, this five-year-old son of Tapit returned in a seven-furlong race off a 14-month layoff on May 27 at Churchill. Covered up at the rail while trailing behind an even pace, he moved up in hand on the turn. He got a dream run and rallied at the rail, only to just miss. Stretched out to nine furlongs four weeks later, he broke alertly, enjoyed an advantageous, pocket trip and stayed on late to be third.
#7 Imprimis (3-1 ML) – Win contender; A in multi-race wagers
On April 3 at Keeneland, this classy, seven-year-old gelding broke through the gate pre-start, but ran a huge race anyway. He stalked an honest and contested pace while three wide, made a threatening bid on the turn and looked like a winner late, only to get outfinished late by Bound for Nowhere.
#3 Classy John (20-1 ML) – Gimmick stretch; stretch C in multi-race wagers
This Louisiana-bred has reinvented himself as a turf sprinter. On Kentucky Oaks Day at Churchill, he enjoyed a pocket trip behind a fast pace in the Turf Sprint (G2). He popped out off the turn and stayed on late to be third at 22-1. In the ungraded Mighty Beau five weeks later, he stalked a hot pace while in the clear, found his best stride in the stretch, and was getting to the winner late.
#8 Carotari (15-1 ML) – Gimmick stretch; willing to fade in multi-race wagers
Breaking from extreme outside post 11 in the Turf Sprint (G2) on Kentucky Oaks Day at Churchill, this five-year-old gelded son of Artie Schiller stalked a fast pace while in the clear, got shuffled slightly, and then rallied mildly through traffic. Five weeks later in the Mighty Beau, he pressed a fast pace, was all in on the turn and stayed on for third. His best effort is a notch below these.
#9 Partner’s Hope (9-2 ML) – Top pick win contender; A in multi-race wagers
In his first start back off a five-month layoff, this sophomore son of More Than Ready finished a troubled fifth of nine. Off four lengths slow, he found himself in a tight spot between horses early on. Steadied nearing the turn, he made a solid bid under a ride, only to be checked late. He finished a distant fifth, but only missed second by two lengths. There are turf influences in the pedigree.
#2 Jimmy Dan (12-1 ML) – Gimmick stretch; willing to fade in multi-race wagers
On May 13 at Churchill, this three-year-old gelded son of Kitten’s Joy raced in the two-path behind a fast pace and failed to make a dent. He ran a little better six weeks later, saving ground while covered up at the rail behind and even pace and failing to threaten thereafter. He takes a needed drop, and will need to run faster, even at this level.
#11 Complicate (AE) (12-1 ML) -- Gimmick stretch; willing to fade in multi-race wagers
In his first start back off a two-month layoff and only the second of his career, this gelded sophomore son of Lookin At Lucky the pace before finishing fifth of 11 in a turf route that absolutely fell apart late. He actually held OK considering. He faces a lot of class droppers here, and will need to take a solid step forward in order to be competitive.
#3 Runway Dreamer (6-1 ML) – Win contender; A in multi-race wagers
Off a seven-week break on May 21 at Churchill, this four-year-old daughter of Tonaist lost four lengths at the start and was very rank into the first turn. Hung four wide on the backstretch, he made a threatening move into a tepid pace, but flattened out and finished evenly thereafter. Dropped into a $25K claimer four weeks later, she broke alertly and stalked an even pace from the two path. She failed to threaten the winner, but outfinished her six other rivals for place over a turf course that favored speed.
#5 Mad Grace (6-1 ML) – Secondary win contender; B in multi-race wagers
Off awkwardly in her June 17 start at Churchill, this veteran six-year-old mare lost three lengths at the start. She stalked an even pace from the two path, made a bid while four wide on the turn and then evened out in the stretch.
#4 Shesgotattitude (8-1 ML) -- Fade
After wiring her career debut on April 8 at Keeneland, this homebred daughter of Tiznow was entered back to face the boys in the Kentucky Juvenile. She bobbled at the start, losing three lengths, raced near the back of the pack while in the clear behind a fast pace and rallied belatedly to finish a non-threatening fourth. Two months later on June 28, once again against the boys in the Bashford Manor (G3), she spied a hot pace while three-wide, and steadied a bit on the turn for home while beginning to tire. 8-1 on the morning line is being generous. Her price should be at least twice that.
#7 Sax (10-1 ML) – Fade
In her career debut on May 28 at Churchill, this daughter of Jimmy Creed lost three lengths at the start. Trailing behind a moderate pace early, she failed to make any sort of impact behind eventual Debutante winner Behave Virginia. Three weeks later in a sales restricted maiden special weight event, she broke much more alertly and flashed better speed. She battled through even fractions from what was a golden rail that day, and dug in gamely to defeat an average field. Not that It matters in a race where she appears to be overly matched, but I’m surprised by the addition of blinkers.