Saratoga & Del Mar Scouting Report: Kentucky Horses for July 30
Led by Winter Pool, who I like quite a bit in race seven, Friday could be a big day for Kentucky invaders at Saratoga. Eyes On Target and Mud Pie also look like serious, square-priced contenders in race eight on the grass.
Due to a total 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.
#6 Risk Manager (9-2 ML) – Win contender; A in multi-race wagers
On May 7 on the Churchill turf, this three-year-old son of Lookin at Lucky was sent off as the 9-5 favorite against nine foes in an age restricted $50K claimer. In tight between horses early while stalking a slow pace, he ranged up four-wide nearing the bend. He absolutely blew the turn, hanging himself 12-wide. He was still good enough to rally for second. Claimed out of that race, he resurfaces in a logical spot off an 11-week break. Trainer Danny Gargan is enjoying a solid meet.
#8 Blue Cat (7-2 ML) -- Win contender; A in multi-race wagers
Off a puzzling non-effort on May 13, this three-year-old gelded son of Big Blue Kitten dropped in for a claiming tag for the first time four weeks later. Stalking closer to the early pace than he had in any of his previous four starts, he sat a pocket trip behind a slow fractions over a turf course that slightly favored off the pace types on the day. He split foes off the turn, cut the rail, and got up gamely for the win. He returns in a very logical spot here.
#2 Convection (12-1) – Intriguing longshot; A/B in multi-race wagers
Off a dominant win against $30K maiden claimers on debut at Keeneland, this sophomore son of Commissioner stepped up into a $50K (nw2) claimer at Churchill. Facing five rivals as the 7-5 favorite in the slop, he was hustled out of the gate. He sat an advantageous, catbird’s seat trip behind an honest pace, ranged up four-wide while still in hand on the turn, and proved best late. Claimed out of that race, he was entered back in a first-level allowance that was washed off the turf. Off two lengths slowly, he sat near the back of the pack behind a hot pace, but did no running thereafter. He’s posted a trio of pointed works since and fits very well under today’s conditions. I find it interesting that Tom Amoss once again enters back on turf, which leads me to believe he's seeking out a kinder surface.
#4 Kasim (6-1 ML) – Willing to fade
Off seven consecutive turf starts to begin his career, this three-year-old son of Munnings was washed off the grass for his May 28 run at Churchill. Facing six rivals as the lukewarm 5-2 favorite over a wet fast track, he got caught in tight between horses early while chasing a fast pace. He made a mild bid on the turn and then faltered. Claimed for $50K, he returns to turf two months later. He fits, but doesn’t appear to have much upside.
#10 Coach Bahe (5-1) – Win contender; A in multi-race wagers
Off a two-month layoff on May 15 at Churchill, this four-year-old gelded son of Take Charge Indy broke alertly. In tight between horses early while stalking a moderate pace over the one-turn mile trip, he made a bid on the turn, was hung five-wide, and then flattened. Cut back to a sprint in his follow-up start, he broke alertly from the outside post. He stalked a hot pace while hung three then four-wide, made a bid, and evened out late. He cuts the claiming tag in half for his third start of the form cycle, and the seven-furlong distance should hit him right between the eyes.
#7 Tokamak (5-1 ML) – Win contender; A in multi-race wagers
Bet down to odds of 4-1 against eight rivals in his career debut on June 18 at Churchill, this Bal a Bali colt broke slowly, losing two lengths. He stalked a slow pace and enjoyed a clean run thereafter, rallying off heels to finish third. A less than obvious candidate to add blinkers off just the one career run, he could be eligible to take a major step forward.
#6 Winter Pool (9-2 ML) – Top win contender; A in multi-race wagers
Off a 10-week layoff in what was just his second career start on May 7 at Churchill, this four-year-old gelded son of Curlin added blinkers. Over the one-turn mile trip, he pressed a fast pace and won comfortably despite absolutely blowing the turn for home and hanging himself seven-wide. Five weeks later, he stretched out around two turns for the first time. Majorly compromised early when checked out of it, losing some six lengths, he raced in the clear thereafter while chasing an honest pace over a racetrack that favored speed. He made a bold move six-wide on the turn, and led in deep stretch, only to be caught late. Both of his races at Churchill were better than they look on paper, and take note that Chad Brown sticks with Ricardo Santana Jr. here.
#2 Hombrazo (5-1 ML) -- Gimmick player; B/C in multi-race wagers
Off a 6 1/2-month layoff on May 13, this four-year-old ridgling was entered in a $20K (nw3) claimer. Facing five rivals in that seven-furlong sprint, he stalked a slow pace while in the clear, swung five-wide on the turn, and ran on without threatening. Stretched out to 1 1/16 miles off the Joe Sharp claim for the follow-up start, he enjoyed a perfect spying trip through honest fractions over a main track that slightly favored speed. Roused off the turn, he took command and was kept to task until very late. Seemingly out of nowhere, he ran easily one of the best races of his career, and I’m admittedly skeptical that he can repeat it.
#9 Runnin’ Ray (3-1 ML) – Gimmick player; B/C in multi-race wagers
Eligible under the waiver provision when entered in a $20K (nw3) claimer off a nine-plus month layoff on June 12 at Churchill, this five-year-old gelded son of Street Sense found himself in a paceless race against six rivals. He broke alertly, set an honest pace, was still in hand on the turn, and responded under a strong hand ride before being eased up late. Somewhat circumstantially, it was an impressive performance, and I must admit I was a little surprised by the 3-1 morning line.
#11 Tiz Rye Time (12-1 ML) – Gimmick stretch; fade in multi-race wagers
Following two dull efforts in long races on the Churchill grass, this four-year-old son of Tiznow cut all the way back to a one-turn mile on dirt. Dropped to $30K (nw2), the lowest level of his career, he showed better speed and sat an advantageous, pocket trip behind a hot pace. Shuffled back a bit, he had dead aim in the stretch and rallied nicely.
#7 Beachwalker (8-1 ML) -- Fade
This four-year-old gelded son of Street Sense ran three times at the Churchill Downs spring meet, with the first two of those coming on grass. In both turf runs, he sat near the back of the pack in slow-paced events and only managed to pass a few tired horses late. Switched over to dirt and dropped into a $50K (nw2) claimer last out, he broke a couple of lengths slowly and was stuck in tight between horses, once again chasing tepid fractions. He made a bold move while five-wide on the turn and then evened out.
#10 Southern Passage (6-1 ML) -- Fade
Following an overly ambitious run in the Florida Derby (G1), this sophomore son of Super Saver answered the bell four times at the Churchill Downs spring meet. A bit of a plodder, he did finish fourth of seven in the Matt Winn (G3), but sent off as the 2-1 favorite in his follow-up start at this level, he enjoyed a dream run at the rail behind an honest pace and failed to make a impact.
#1 Eyes On Target (6-1 ML) – Win contender; A in multi-race wagers
This three-year-old ridgling debuted in a nine-furlong turf race at Churchill on May 13. Off slowly losing four lengths, he raced in the clear while chasing a fast pace over a turf course that did favor late-closing types. Closer on the turn while still in hand, he advanced steadily and was hung six-wide on the turn for home. He had aim late, but could not get past a stubborn winner. Bet down to 4-5 favoritism in his follow-up start six weeks later at the same distance, he made the lead from an inside post and set an even pace. He responded when asked, and dug in like a pro to get the job done. The added distance shouldn’t be an issue, and with an alert break, expect him to be forwardly placed.
#3 Mud Pie (8-1 ML) – Win contender; A in multi-race wagers
This four-year-old son of Morning Line ran some deceivingly good turf races on the Kentucky circuit last year. On November 12 at Churchill, he was slammed at the start, losing four lengths and valuable position. At the back while well in hand, he was shifted out five-wide on the turn and was hung seven-wide at the top of the stretch before racing evenly to the wire. Off a seven-plus month layoff on June 24 in Louisville, he broke out at the start, losing three lengths. Chasing a moderate pace, he made an early move while three-wide and stayed on to finish second behind a sharp, gate-to-wire winner. He ran like a horse who needed the start, and he’s proven over a distance of ground on turf. Expect even better today.
#5 Actuary (20-1 ML) – Wild card longshot; C in multi-race wagers
Bet down to odds of 5-1 off an eight-month layoff in his North American debut, he broke slowly, losing four lengths. At the back of the pack while in the clear trailing a slow pace, he only managed to pass a few tired horses late. He’s run well over elongated turf distances overseas, and perhaps the first race off the boat was being used as a tightener.
#4 Exult (10-1 ML) – Fade
On May 22 at Churchill, this five-year-old gelding lost three lengths at the start. Covered up at the rail while last early behind a tepid pace, he found his best stride late but simply had too much to do. Four weeks later at the same level, he had much more honest fractions in front of him. In the two-path near the back of the pack, he rallied off heels at the top of the stretch while on the wrong lead and rolled by late. This is a much tougher spot, and he’s not proven over elongated distances.
#3 Harvard (6-1 ML) – Gimmick player; C in multi-race wagers
Racing at his fourth different venue in as many starts last out at Churchill, this son of Pioneerof the Nile faced older horses for the second consecutive time. Dismissed at odds of 10-1 against just five rivals, he made the lead and set an even pace over the nine-furlong distance. He thwarted challenges in the stretch, held firm, and galloped out best. He’s undefeated in two starts since adding blinkers, but he won’t get an easy lead again.
#7 Dynamic One (4-1 ML) – Gimmick player; willing to fade
Off a mirage of a second in the Wood Memorial (G2), this son of Union Rags got bumped at the start of the Kentucky Derby (G1). Rank and stuck in tight between horses early, he was hung five-wide thereafter and was never a factor. He’s still eligible for a first-level allowance, but this race is logical enough for his return for top connections. Based on name recognition, he’s likely to be an underlay.
#6 Melting Snow (2-1 ML) – Win contender; A in multi-race wagers
Following five winter starts at Oaklawn, this sophomore daughter of Dialed In landed in an age-restricted $40K claimer at Churchill on May 27. Sent off at even-money against five rivals over a racetrack that slightly favored speed, she enjoyed a perfect, pressing trip through honest fractions, took full command off the turn, and extended the margin of victory to the wire. Off two months following the claim, she returns at the same level here.
#5 Sometimes Always (4-1 ML) – Secondary contender; B/C in multi-race wagers
This three-year-old gelded son of Morning Line did a little bit of everything in three starts during the Churchill spring meet. Five-wide on the first turn, he faded badly in the slop on April 28, and three weeks later in a turf route, he made the lead and set slow fractions from the inside post, but faded midway through the turn. Cut back to a dirt sprint on June 19, he got involved in a three-pronged battle for the lead while stuck between horses as the 8-5 favorite. He put a head in front at the top of the stretch, but was run over late by a horse who was 0-for-8 coming in.