Saratoga Scouting Report: Kentucky Horses for Aug. 8
Ontheonesandtwos and Wicked Halo, the two-three finishers from a very salty edition of the Debutante at Churchill, renew acquaintances in the Adirondack (G2). Wicked Halo gets a big post shift, which could give her the advantage.
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.
#2 Penny Saver (5-2 ML) – Likely underlay, willing to fade in multi-race wagers
Sent off as the 2-1 favorite against seven rivals in her career debut on June 18 at Churchill, this daughter of Super Saver enjoyed a clear stalking trip behind a fast pace over a racetrack that slightly favored speed. Closer nearing the turn while three wide, she drifted four wide at the top of the stretch and went on to finish a clear second behind the gate to wire winner Pretty Birdie, who has since returned to take the Schuylerville (G3). For the ones who should benefit from it, Kenny McPeek likes to stretch his two-year-olds out, even on grass. At first glance the turf pedigree is lacking with this gal, but her dam did win and was stakes-placed on the green stuff.
#2 Semble Juste (IRE) (4-1 ML) – Top win contender; A in multi-race wagers
Bred for grass on both side of the pedigree, this sophomore daughter of Shalaa has actually run two of her better races on dirt, and she’s entered for main track only here. Her first of two tries at the Churchill meet came at a mile on turf. She broke alertly, enjoyed an advantageous pocket trip, and finished evenly to be fourth of 12 behind a filly who has since come back to win again. Cut back to a one-turn mile on dirt last out, she broke well once again and enjoyed a perfect pressing trip through moderate fractions over a racetrack that favored speed. She took full command off the turn and was solidly best.
#1 Off We Go (3-1 ML) – Likely underlay, willing to fade in multi-race wagers
I’m very familiar with this sophomore filly from all of her runs in Kentucky and New Orleans. When asked to lead, she ran off in the Rachel Alexandra (G2) in her only two-turn try. She ran well in three of five sprint tries, but was sidelined on March 4 after a disappointing run in her turf debut. She draws the rail here fresh and, at a short price, I’d have to take a stand against her.
#1 Hendy Woods (6-1 ML) – Gimmick player; only use in multi-race wagers if willing to oppose the pair of Brown standouts
I’m very familiar with this four-year-old filly from her runs in Kentucky in New Orleans. She’s as consistent as they come, but I’m not sure how much more room before she hits the ceiling. Off an eight-month layoff on May 14 at Churchill, she sat a catbird’s seat trip behind a hot pace set by a solo leader. Closer on the turn while in hand, she took the lead mid-stretch and narrowly held safe. Four weeks later, she raced in the clear in the two path behind an even pace, was hung four wide on the turn, and raced evenly to the wire. She should enjoy an advantageous pocket trip, but Chad Brown’s two-headed monster looks tough to beat.
#7 Wicked Halo (7-2 ML) – Top pick win contender; A and potential single in multi-race wagers
Three weeks after her winning debut in the mud at Lone Star, this gray daughter of Gun Runner returned in the Debutante at Churchill. Bet down early in the wagering against a formidable field of foes, she floated up to odds of 5-2. From the rail post, she flashed natural speed and set a hot pace. Engaged in the stretch, she dug in gamely, but simply couldn’t go with the top pair late, finishing third in a race that was run 1 3/5 seconds faster than the Bashford Manor for the boys on the same day. After drawing the rail in her first two starts, she gets a major post shift that should work in her favor here.
#2 Ontheonesandtwos (5-2 ML) – Win contender; A/B in multi-race wagers
The big, strong daughter of Jimmy Creed debuted on May 13 at Churchill. Off two lengths slowly, she enjoyed a perfect pressing trip though honest fractions thereafter. She took over mid-stretch, and cleared late on the wrong lead. Six weeks later, in the Debutante, she broke alertly and stalked a hot pace from the two-path. She made a bold, four-wide move on the turn, had aim late, and kept coming, only to fall short behind an impressive winner. The Debutante was run 1 3/5 seconds faster than the Bashford Manor for the boys on the same day.
#1 J L’s Rockette (10-1 ML) – Gimmick stretch; fade in multi-race wagers
In her career debut on June 27 at Ellis, this $750K two-year-old in training purchase by Into Mischief was sent off as the 2-1 second choice against six rivals. She battled the lead through fast fractions from the rail, drew off in the stretch, but drifted late while tiring and just lasted. She faces a much tougher field of foes here and will need to improve considerably in order to be a factor.