Saratoga and Del Mar Scouting Report: Kentucky Horses for July 24
Caramel Swish could be a favorite to lean on and Shady McGee is a longshot to consider on a Saturday Saratoga card jam packed with Kentucky invaders. At Del Mar, Count Again looks to have a live shot at a square price in the Eddie Read (G2).
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.
#5 Prime Time Player (6-1 ML) – Gimmick player; C in multi-race wagers
Sent off as the lukewarm 2-1 favorite against seven $75K maiden claiming foes on May 27 at Churchill, this sophomore son of Ghostzapper lost two lengths at the start and was forced to stalk an even pace over a one-turn mile. In the clear, he made a threatening move while in hand on the turn. Hung five wide, he had aim late and eventually grinded his way to the victory against what was a very average field for the level. Fits well here at this condition, but he has to answer the nine furlong question.
#4 Pathetique (15-1 ML) – Live longshot; Sneaky A in spread scenario in multi-race wagers
Sent off at odds of 12-1 against 10 rivals sprinting on turf in her career debut five weeks ago, this well-bred daughter lost all chance when breaking 10 lengths slow at the start. Far back on the turn, she did finish with a little bit of deceiving energy. She posted a pair of sharp works since, and the pedigree screams route and Phil Bauer has excellent stats in the applicable categories.
#3 Cantrell Hill (4-1 ML) – Willing to fade
Three wide while chasing an even pace over a route of ground two back at Churchill, this five-year-old gelded son of More Than Ready lost ground on and off the turn in what was somewhat of a dull performance. Cut back to seven furlongs for his follow-up start, he stalked a fast pace and slowly advanced into a pocket position. The rail opened up for him on the turn and he got up in just the nick of time in what was an advantaged run against an average field for the level.
#11 Six Pack (8-5 ML) (MTO) – Top pick win contender; A in multi-race wagers
Battled into submission in his May 9 sprint start in the slop, this sophomore son of Flatter dropped in for a tag for the first time on June 13. After breaking alertly, he stalked fast fractions while four wide over a racetrack that slightly favored off-the-pace types. He loomed five wide on the turn while still in hand, swept to the lead and drew off as the odds-on favorite. Should this race get washed off the turf, he looks as good as any.
#4 Clairiere (9-5 ML) – Top win contender; single in multi-race wagers
Covered up at the rail in the Kentucky Oaks (G1), she was ridden along on the turn. She stayed on well late, but was caught for third in the final jump. Seven weeks later, in the Mother Goose (G2), she stumbled badly at the start, stalked pedestrian fractions and then was hung five wide on the turn. She sustained her bid for third, but the winner got an advantaged trip and the jump on her. Will very much appreciate the move back to two turns, and she has a post and fitness edge on Malathaat.
#1 Malathaat (2-5 ML) – Obvious win contender, but willing to single Clairiere
Sent off as the 5-2 favorite in the Kentucky Oaks, this royally-bred daughter of Curlin did not disappoint. Squeezed at the start, she lost three lengths. Three wide most of the journey, she was hung five wide on the turn for home. She had aim late and won a game, neck decision over Search Results. Many hoped she would take on the boys in the Belmont, but she lost a little weight after the Oaks win, according to trainer Todd Pletcher
#2 Maracuha (6-1 ML) – Fade
Dismissed at odds of 37-1 in the Kentucky Oaks, she ran like a horse who was overmatched. Covered up at the rail while chasing an even pace early on, she only managed to pass a few beaten horses in the stretch. She hasn’t run since, and outside of a runner-up finish in the Gazelle (G3), she’s been very average.
#8 Volcanic (6-1 ML) – Secondary win contender; A/B in multi-race wagers
Bet down to 8-5 favoritism against six rivals in his career debut on June 4, this son of Violence stalked a fast pace from the rail. Hung seven wide on the turn, he finished best despite a pronounced tail swish. The horses who ran third and fifth both returned to win at Woodbine and Indiana Grand respectively.
#4 Chileno (9-2 ML) -- Secondary win contender; A/B in multi-race wagers
Bet down to even-money as part of an entry against nine rivals in his debut, this two-year-old son of Gun Runner was hung three wide the entire trip. Four wide on the turn, he threatened at the top of the stretch, only to even out late to be fourth. The winner that day closed from well off the pace at 13-1, and the runner-up returned to win a slowly run maiden special weight sprint at Ellis Park.
#3 Bourbon Heist (10-1 ML) – Gimmick player; B/C in multi-race wagers
Bet down to 7-2 in a field of 11 in his career debut, this son of Practical Joke broke alertly and settled into a stalking position. Four wide on the turn for home, he would finish evenly thereafter. Not often do you see Ian Wilkes-trained debuters take that much action, but the Bourbon Lane Stables owners may have had something to do with that. His runners do often improve second time out though.
#11 Southern Sense (30-1 ML) (AE) – Fade
Sent off at odds of 13-1 in his career debut against ten rivals, this son of Street Sense lost four lengths at the start. Ridden along in the two path thereafter, he failed to make an impact.
#2 Shady McGee (30-1 ML) – Live longshot; A in multi-race wagers
Extremely rank and out of control in his April 23 run at Keeneland, this gelded son of Zoffany found himself in a claustrophobic position on the backstretch and he did very little running thereafter. Dropped into a $30K (N2L) claimer at Churchill in his follow-up start, he tugged at the jock while covered up at the rail early, but eventually settled to stalk an even pace. He made a slingshot move on the turn, rallied off heels, then fired in the stretch while greenly finishing on the wrong lead. The connections thought enough of the effort to jump him all the way up into the Mystic Lake Derby at Canterbury. Pinched back at the start losing six lengths, he trailed early on behind moderate fractions. He made a bold move on the turn, was hung seven-wide and threatened in the stretch, only to flatten out just a bit late. The lack of speed signed on is a concern, but this guy is better than he looks, and take note that Tyler Gaffalione rode him two starts back.
#7 Calibrate (6-1 ML) – Secondary win contender; A/B in multi-race wagers
This son of Distorted Humor made three starts during the Churchill Downs spring meet, the first two of those sprinting on dirt. On May 1, he was hustled out of the starting gate and enjoyed a perfect, pressing trip through fast fractions. He tired on the turn for home and finished an even fourth. He stalked a hot pace from the pocket in his follow-up start and raced evenly to the wire. Outside of the impressive winner Aloha West, that was a very weak race for the level. Stretched out to 1 1/16 miles last out, he broke alertly, sat a dream trip behind a hotly contested pace, had aim and was getting to an equally advantaged winner late in what was also a less than stellar first-level allowance field. Now he’ll try turf for the first time and there are some grass influences in the pedigree.
#1 Performing Arts (10-1 ML) – Gimmick player; B in multi-race wagers
Covered up at the rail on May 16 at Churchill, this Dansili ridgling stalked an even pace. He got a dream run at the rail, rallied, and just missed behind the 2-1 front running winner. Three weeks later over a “firm” turf with plenty of give in the ground, he found himself in tight into the first turn. He raced in the clear in the two path thereafter while stalking an even pace and advanced steadily. Four wide on the turn, he edged in front at the top of the stretch and held firm late.
#8 Naked On the Beach (12-1 ML) – Live longshot; A in multi-race wagers
He ran what looks to be a decent fourth in his career debut at Keeneland, but major traffic trouble likely cost this daughter of Malibu Moon a better placing. Five weeks later at Churchill, she endured an awkward run into the first turn, and subsequently clipped. She did very little running thereafter, but can you blame her? Off nine weeks, she resurfaces under the care of Norm Casse, who is in the midst of the best year of his young training career.
#6 Caramel Swirl (5-2 ML) – Top pick contender; A in multi-race wagers and gutsy single possibility
Taking the blinkers off, this daughter of Union Rags put in a breakthrough performance on April 9 at Keeneland. She stalked a slow pace while four wide, moved up in hand on the turn, quickly cleared under mild urging, won by more than 10 lengths with something left and still galloped out nicely. That monstrous effort earned her a crack in the Eight Belles (G2) at Churchill for an otherwise conservative trainer in Bill Mott. She broke out from the extreme outside post in the field of 12 losing five lengths. Three wide throughout, she made a threatening move into a hot pace while four wide, but faltered. She’s rested and very ready for this.
#8 Flash Magic (7-2 ML) – Secondary win contender; B in multi-race wagers
Previously trained by Bob Baffert in Southern California, this half-sister to Good Magic was bred to be a good one. Second in all three starts as a two-year-old, she recently returned off an eight-month layoff to score a sharp maiden breaker at Churchill. Away alertly, she battled a fast pace from the rail and responded when asked, and drawing off to a convincing win. This is a much tougher task, but this Stonestreet filly appears to have some upside.
#9 Mucho Macho Momma (8-1 ML) – Gimmick player; C in multi-race wagers
I’m very familiar with this daughter of Mucho Macho Man from her races in Kentucky and New Orleans. Over a one-turn mile two back, she stalked a fast pace while three wide and put a head in front off the turn, only to lose a tough decision to an off the pace type who benefitted from the way the track was playing. She ran a very similar race over a wet fast track in her follow-up start at the same distance. In tight between early while stalking hot splits, she eventually got a dream run at the rail before losing a tough battle late.
#7 Zainalarab (4-1 ML) – Gimmick stretch; C or fade in multi-race wagers
In her three-year-old debut off a 7 1/2-month layoff, this daughter of War Front was stuck inside between horses while three wide early on. Chasing an even pace over a racetrack that favored outside closers. She stayed on late to finish second behind the Louisiana-bred Australasia, who was undefeated at the time. She’s been away another 11 weeks, and based on pedigree you would think this filly would eventually stretch out.
#4 Sweet Workout (20-1 ML) – Gimmick stretch
I’m very familiar with this filly from all of her runs in Kentucky and New Orleans. Hung three and four wide throughout her 1 1/16 miles turf voyage at Churchill on May 8, she advanced steadily into a moderate pace nearing the turn for home. Fanned seven wide on the bend, she raced somewhat erratically in the stretch and evened out late. She got her first and only dirt try in her follow-up start three weeks later. Tugging early while stalking a slow pace, she got stuck in tight between foes. All in on the turn, she faltered thereafter in what was a dull effort overall. Claimed out of that race for $30K, she resurfaces back on turf in an ambitious spot.
#3 Lil Town Sis (3-1 ML) – Gimmick player; willing to fade in multi-race wagers
Off slowly losing four lengths in her career debut on May 8, she found herself far off a fast pace early on. She got a dream run at the rail off the turn for home, rallied to finish a distant third, and galloped out with continued momentum. Bet down much more significantly to favoritism in her follow-up start, she once again spotted the field four lengths at the break. She steadied along early while chasing an honest pace from last, and rallied belatedly to finish a distant fourth behind a runaway winner, who has since returned to score again.
#2 Sponsored (4-1 ML) – Win contender; A in multi-race wagers
Far back early in his debut, this gelded son of Runhappy rallied belatedly to finish sixth of 12 at odds of 26-1. Claimed out of that debut in a surprising move, he resurfaced at the same level at Churchill two months later. Bet down to odds of 4-1 with blinkers on this time, he lost four lengths at the start and stalked a slow pace. Six wide on the turn, he split horses late and got up for third. The horse who won that day has since returned to finish second in a first-level Ellis allowance. The stretch out to two turns could work in his favor.
#4 Brimage (15-1 ML) – Fade
Bet down to 8-5 favoritism against an average field of $50K maiden claiming foes on debut, this daughter of American Freedom lost four lengths at the start. Ridden along at the rail while stalking a slow pace, she inched closer on the turn, had aim in the stretch, and ran on to finish second behind the frontrunning winner. Claimed out of that race, she resurfaces in what appears to be a loaded maiden special weight event.
#4 Count Again (5-1 ML) – Win contender; A in multi-race wagers
This lightly-race six-year-old gelded son of Awesome Again invaded Churchill Downs for the Old Forester Bourbon Turf Classic (G1) on Kentucky Derby Day. Dismissed at odds of nearly 17-1, he got pinched out at the start, losing four lengths. Covered up at the rail while stalking a slow pace, he stayed on late to finish a respectable fourth. He ran the best race of his career over the Del Mar turf course, and the pace in front of him today should be an honest one.
#1 Vintage Print (20-1 ML) – Gimmick longshot; C in multi-race wagers
This $1.8 million yearling buy returned off a 9 1/2-month layoff on May 1 at Churchill. Off slowly losing four lengths, he settled near the back of the pack behind honest fractions early on, and closed ground late without threatening over a grass course that favored off the pace types. In his follow-up start at the same level, he chased an even pace while in the clear. All-in on the turn, he sustained his bid to the wire, only to be outfinished by a 44-1 longshot winner. He adds blinkers to this, and it’s worth noting that Adam Beschizza is named to ride.
#8 Dramatizer (30-1 ML) – Gimmick stretch; fade in multi-race wagers
I’m very familiar with this three-year-old daughter of Exaggerator from her all of her runs in Kentucky and New Orleans. In her Churchill start on May 6, she lost four lengths at the start and sat at the back of the pack behind slow fractions. She advanced steadily into the turn for home and was hung seven wide. She sustained her bid and just missed behind a filly who has won twice since and is perfect from four starts.
#8 Chewy Chewy Good (8-1 ML) – Gimmick stretch; willing to fade in multi-race wagers
Dropped into a $10K (N2L) claimer at Churchill on May 27, she was bet down to odds of 6-5 in what was a weak field for the level. She chased an honest pace while three-wide, was all in on the turn, and faltered in what was a dull effort. Claimed out of that race, she steps up a notch off a two-month layoff.