Saratoga Scouting Report July 17: 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.
#5 Bundibunan (7-2 ML)
Off a three-month break on June 19, he sat a clean trip near the back of the pack in a strung-out field through slow fractions. Gaining momentum on the turn, he was hung eight-wide before finishing strongly to be third behind a solid winner while on the wrong lead over a turf course that slightly favored off the pace types that day. He takes the blinkers off, stretches out, and fits well.
#7 Counter Offer (10-1 ML)
On the past performances, the turf course is rated firm for the race he exits, but in reality, a huge rain storm hit just before the race, and the grass was more on the boggy side. He showed no speed out of the gate behind an even pace, was far back nearing the turn while picking up momentum off the turn nine-wide before finishing best in the middle of the course. Chances are the course condition aided his run while compromising others at the same time.
#4 The Rock Says (3-5 ML)
Dropped in class off a nine-month layoff, he was sent off as the 1-2 favorite over a sloppy, one-turn mile. In the clear against just four rivals, he was all in on the turn and failed to match strides with the runaway winner before getting caught late for second. Claimed out of that race, he resurfaces in this 9-furlong event with blinkers on. He might not be as good as last year, but does look like a standout with these.
#5 Ghost Game (10-1 ML)
Stretched out to a one-turn mile for the first time on June 5, he was bumped slightly at the start and raced four-wide throughout behind an even pace before finishing willingly for third over a racetrack that favored speed. He’s improved slightly with each start, but the pedigree doesn’t inspire 9-furlong confidence.
#3 Persian Queen (10-1 ML)
Overmatched off the bench on May 22, she dropped in class five weeks later. Following a stumble at the start, she enjoyed a perfect, pressing trip over a fair playing track, but proved to be no match for the favored Tom Amoss-duo. She returns to the Martin barn and takes another drop in class, but will need to show more to pose a threat, even with these.
#1 Catch a Bid (9-2 ML)
Off an eight-month layoff, she broke alertly from the extreme outside post, cleared easily, and set the slowest pace in the history of racing for 1 1/16 miles on turf last out, and I’m not exaggerating -- :51 3/5. She controlled the action over a fair playing turf course, and won comfortably while never being asked. Despite the ease of the win, she still ran fast. She might have the most upside of the four Brown runners entered here and should be in line for an advantageous, pocket trip.Off an eight-month layoff, she broke alertly from the extreme outside post, cleared easily, and set the slowest pace in the history of racing for 1 1/16 miles on turf last out, and I’m not exaggerating -- :51 3/5. She controlled the action over a fair playing turf course, and won comfortably while never being asked. Despite the ease of the win, she still ran fast. She might have the most upside of the four Brown runners entered here and should be in line for an advantageous, pocket trip.
#1 Estilo Femenino (20-1 ML)
Over a sloppy track on May 16, she chased an honest pace from the rail before passing tired horses late to finish a distant fourth behind the champion Monomoy Girl over a racetrack that favored speed. She would do well to grab a minor award here as well.
#2 Risky Mandate (9-2 ML)
Off a 10-month layoff last out, she was sent off at odds of 8-5 against nine rivals. Severely compromised when breaking five lengths slowly from the rail post, she chased a fast pace from near the back of the well-bunched field early on before making a bold, six-wide move on the turn. She followed home the winner, Unique Factor, who as also compromised at the start, in the middle of a drying out racetrack that favored wide and off the pace types. There are more positives than negatives. Risky Mandate should run big, but will it be good enough?
#6 Joy Epifora (12-1 ML)
Off a 6 1/2-month layoff and in what would be her first start in the U.S., she was entered to compete over a mile of turf, but the race was washed over to one-turn on the main track. Against just five rivals, she chased into a controlled pace from the pocket and crossed the finish line a clear second while lugging in late. She’s a versatile performer who could sneak a share here late, but chances are she wants more distance to work with.
#10 Please Flatter Me (8-1 ML)
Off a 10-month layoff, she sat an advantageous trip from the catbird’s seat over a sloppy 7-furlongs while chasing a fast pace. She proved to be no match for the monster Guarana, but to her credit, she did run on willingly for second. Seven furlongs might be her preferred distance, she’s well drawn outside, and chances are she’ll take a step forward off a race she expected to need. Indian Pride looks tough here, and a couple of the others appear to have more upside than this gal, but she should run her race, and appears to be worth including in the gimmicks.