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Homeracing

Saratoga Scouting Report: Kentucky Horses for July 11

Profile Picture: Joe Kristufek

July 8th, 2019

by Joe Kristufek With Churchill Downs coming off perhaps its strongest spring meet in history, the horses based in Kentucky should perform even better than they have in years past. Chances are, in many cases, they won’t get the respect they deserve. There is value to be had. That’s what I’m here for. For the entirety of the Saratoga meet, I will provide “scouting reports” for the Kentucky-based horses – good, bad and indifferent. Race 2 #12 Declined His “on paper” form entering this assignment is solid, and he might be even better than he looks. On May 27, he battled through even fractions and dug in gamely late, only to settle for second behind I Can Do Anything, who has since returned to finish a good third in a two-turn turf allowance. Third place finisher He’s Stylish stretched out to wire maidens in his subsequent effort. On June 15, he sat in the pocket behind honest fractions, was stuck in tight between horses on the turn and hung five wide before finishing with punch to cross the line a narrowly beaten third. He posted a useful work between starts and there’s no reason to think he won’t run another huge race. #4 Hurricane Jake Launched his career this past winter at Fair Grounds and held his own in a pair of competitive turf sprints. Stretched out around two turns at Keeneland in a sloppy track “off the turf” event, he made the lead and held on for second behind a very average winner. Off seven weeks, he returned on May 27 to finish an even fourth in a turf sprint at Churchill. He enjoyed a clear, two-path trip and simply evened out late. Perhaps a result of the venue change, it took him five weeks to post a work post-race. He gets Lasix for the first time here and is a candidate to outperform his odds. Race 3 #5 Verve’s Humor His winter route performances at Oaklawn were more than respectable, and the May 30 start at Churchill is an absolute toss-out race. On one of the rare days with a significant inside/speed bias, this deep closer was up against it from the word go, and slow fractions and a troubled trip sealed his fate. He hasn’t missed a beat in training, and now resurfaces over a nine-furlong distance he should relish. That being said, it doesn’t look like the early pace scenario in this one will work in his favor either. #7 The Rock Says He’s run well in all four lifetime starts, all routes, mixing it up between turf and dirt. On May 26 against 11 rivals, he gutted out a maiden breaker in the slop. The horses who ran second and third behind him did come back to win, but neither Morning Social nor Hitch were overly impressive in defeating short fields. Fractious in the gate on June 20, he enjoyed a perfect catbird’s seat trip behind the front running winner Rare Form before gutting out second over the lifetime hanger Mississippi. He should have a tactical advantage in what doesn’t appear to be the strongest race for the level, but I’m not sure nine furlongs is his best trip. Race 4 #2 Local Hero Marginally on the Triple Crown trail as a three-year-old, his high-knee action on dirt always led me to believe he might be a better horse on turf. He had run some sneaky good races on turf prior to his June 21 journey over the Churchill green for Mike Maker, a race in which he suffered a narrow defeat to his talented stablemate Clear for Action. He saved ground behind a hot pace that day, rallied six-wide on the turn and simply couldn’t get past the winner late. He posted a useful half-mile drill between starts and fits like a glove under today’s conditions. #8 Bemma’s Boy A recent claim, Maker’s other runner in here may be better than he looks on paper. He won his only turf start way back in November, and showed some resiliency in doing so. He’s run on dirt seven times since, but three of those were intended to be turf starts (washed off). His granddam is Grade 1-placed on turf, and it’s worth noting that Maker has had much better success with Jose Ortiz than Luis Saez, who rides his other runner Local Hero. #11 Indigo Yankee (main track only) His route effort on May 18 left much to be desired, but off a nine-month layoff, perhaps he needed the race. The follow-up performance over seven furlongs on June 28 was much better. He made a middle move to the pocket into an honest pace and finished willingly in a solid race for the $40,000 (beaten) level. He won over nine sloppy furlongs in his only previous start at Saratoga, and there is a chance of rain in the forecast. Race 9 #1 Abyssinian Sent off at odds of 6-5 in her May 11 start in the Mamzelle Overnight Stakes at Churchill, she battled a fast pace and led off the turn, only to be run over by a 35-1 shot in Change of Control. It was a solid, yet unspectacular performance, and now she’s tasked with running against males, including Call Paul, who may absolutely relish the trip. Race 10 #8 Encore Kitten She didn’t show much against maiden special weight rivals in the career debut on May 4, and then was bet down to the 2-1 favorite’s role when dropped into a claimer for the follow-up turf start on June 13. With honest fractions in front of her set by a run off leader, she enjoyed a perfect spying trip before rallying in the stretch. She lost a neck decision, but was caught in very tight deep stretch.  Overall, it was a very average race for the level, and she’s likely to receive more respect than she deserves here. For multi-race purposes, I’d be willing to fade her. #3 Going to Temple Exits the same race as Encore Kitten, and after losing roughly four lengths at the start, she did manage to pass tired horses in the stretch. She has a right to improve off that lesson-learning debut, but appears to be more of an “underneath” type here. #11 Lady Trish’s Dream She actually finished three lengths in front of Encore Kitten in their May 4 encounter, but after breaking three lengths slow over a yielding course seven weeks later, she failed to run a step. She does drop in for a tag for the first time off that needed race, Julien Leparoux stays aboard and Kenny McPeek is super dangerous when dropping horses in from maiden special weight to claiming. If you’re against the favorites and are willing to spread in multi-race wagers, I wouldn’t be completely against using her. Saratoga starting gate (c) Harold Roth/Horsephotos.com

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