Saratoga & Del Mar Scouting Report: Kentucky Horses for July 29
Although there’s not too much to get overly excited about on the boutique meet Kentucky invader scene today, a couple of the qualifiers could make an impact, including First Premio, who takes a class drop at Del Mar.
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.
#9 Troubling Moon (9-2 ML) --- Gimmick player; C in multi-race wagers
A dirt horse most of his career, he switched over to turf in October and he enters today’s assignment on a 10-race losing streak. In his May 23 start at Churchill over a turf course that slightly favored speed, he saved ground from a stalking position early on and raced evenly to the wire. This is a softer spot, but he needs to do more.
#1 Secondary Market (6-5 ML) – Top win contender (other half of entry is stronger); single in multi-race wagers
When last seen on Thanksgiving at Churchill in a deep race for this level, this four-year-old filly finished second as the 5-2 favorite. Over a racetrack that slightly favored off-the-pace types, she spied the early leader from second through fast fractions. She took over off the turn and drew clear, only to be run over by a deep 17-1 closer.
#6 Regal Retort (9-2 ML) – Somewhat logical alternative to singling the entry
Off an 8 1/2-month layoff on May 23 at Churchill, this five-year-old mare lost six lengths at the start. Far back early over a racetrack that slightly favored speed, she started to make up ground into hot fractions on the far turn. She gained momentum and was hung eight wide on the turn, and then rallied belatedly to finish fourth behind the odds-on favorite. Cut back a furlong in her follow-up start four weeks later, she broke much more alertly and sat a pocket trip behind a fast pace. She popped out mid-stretch, and grinded at the front-running winner late, only to lose a tough decision. Jungle Juice, the 11-1 winner that day, was returning on less than a week’s rest, and third-place finisher and odds-on favorite Regan’s Edge competed in Wednesday’s stakes instead of opting for this much easier spot.
#10 Bonkers (5-1 ML) – Win contender; A in multi-race wagers
In career start number nine at her seventh different venue last out, this four-year-old filly dropped in for a tag for the first time. Bothered on the first turn, she was hung three wide while stalking an even pace throughout. She made a bid off the turn for home, only to flatten out late behind a logical winner. She drops another notch, and when in doubt in races such as this, leaning on Mike Maker is often a good idea.
#9 Salino (6-1 ML) – Secondary win contender; B in multi-race wagers
In her lone start as a two-year-old in late November at Churchill, this daughter of Vancouver ran a deceivingly-good fourth. Away alertly from the rail, she sat a pocket trip behind an honest pace early, then was shuffled back behind a tired rival on the turn. She got a dream run up the rail following the trouble, finished evenly, but galloped out best in what was a spotty effort. Off six months, she stretched out on turf for her June 6 engagement. Hung out in extreme outside post 12, she was hung four wide on the first turn. She stalked a runaway leader from the second flight through honest fractions and finished evenly to be fifth, but do take note that she narrowly missed the place spot behind the eight-length, gate-to-wire winner. Rained off the turf for her most recent start at Ellis, she showed speed and made the lead over her five rivals through tepid fractions, only to give way on the turn. She drops in for a tag for the first time and returns to turf with darkened form here.
#1 Sum Kinda Pretty (9-2 ML) – Gimmick player; C in multi-race wagers
A wide sixth on debut at Fair Grounds in her career debut, this sophomore filly returned seven weeks later at Churchill. Rained off the grass, that April 28 start was contested over nine furlongs in the slop. There was a long delay in the paddock and only five horses competed. The pace was slow, and this gal sat a pocket trip. Done on the turn, she did re-rally slightly for show. She dropped in class and returned to the lawn four weeks later. After breaking alertly, she was taken back off the tepid pace to sit a pocket trip over a turf course that slightly favored speed and raced evenly to the wire.
#14 Never Content (4-1 ML) (AE) – Gimmick stretch; willing to fade in multi-race wagers
Dropped in for a claiming tag for the first time in career start number six last out at Churchill, she stalked a tepid pace while in the clear as the tepid favorite. In chase mode on the turn, she actually lost a little ground in the stretch and finished a non-threatening fourth. Should she draw into this field, the extreme, outside post doesn’t do her any favors.
#5 Coal Shaft (5-1 ML) – Gimmick player; willing to fade in multi-race wagers
Dumped into a $10K maiden claimer on May 27 at Churchill, this sophomore filly found herself in a super soft spot, and the bettors responded by hammering her down to odds of 2-5. Over a racetrack that slightly favored speed, she made the lead through honest fractions at the one-turn mile trip. In hand on the turn, she was roused and kept to task in the stretch, only to be geared down late as the margin of victory lengthened. Claimed out of that race, she doubled her tag in the follow-up start and set a smoking hot pace over a racetrack that slightly favored off the pace types. Cooked on the turn, she faded to finish a distant fourth of six.
#6 First Premio (3-1 ML) – Win contender; A in multi-race wagers
On Kentucky Derby Day at Churchill, this veteran seven-year-old gelding ran a monster race to win. Off nine lengths slowly over the one mile trip, he raced in the clear near the back of the pack behind an honest pace over a turf course that slightly favored closers. He gained momentum on the turn, and put in a slingshot move while six wide. He rallied on the wrong lead, but got up in time with today’s pilot Umberto Rispoli aboard. Sent off as the even-money favorite at the same level last out, he enjoyed a much more favorable trip, only to disappoint and finish fourth. Away alertly, he pressed even fractions but failed to kick on. Despite the slow pace, the winner closed from last at 44-1. This is a much softer field than what he faced in Louisville.
#3 Cecile’s Chapter (7-2 ML) – Win contender; Co-A with #2 in multi-race wagers
Off the Mike Maker claim on May 6 at Churchill, this sophomore filly stalked a slow pace. Hung five wide on the turn for home, she put in a solid rally, albeit on the wrong lead, only to just miss behind a filly who has yet to lose from four lifetime starts. That was a good effort, but it’s interesting to note that there was a voided claim. Four weeks later, she returned at the same level and was once again sent off as the defined favorite. She sat stalking trip in the catbird’s seat behind an even pace, had aim off the turn and led briefly, only to be run down late by a deep closer.