Saratoga Scouting Report: Kentucky Horses for July 15
Happy opening day at Saratoga!
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.
#4 Wagon Boss (7-2 ML) – Win contender
This eight-year-old gelding ran twice during the Churchill spring meet, finishing an even fifth over a one-turn mile behind the much the best winner Exulting before following up with a narrow win on the drop into a $16,000 claimer over 1 1/16 miles. In that June 3 event against just five rivals, he enjoyed a perfect, pressing trip through even fractions before proving narrowly best over Charlie’sarchangel, who he will face again today. Trained by Michelle Giangiullo, a former assistant to Tom Morley, he drops slightly in price but faces a very similar, yet deeper, field of foes. Speed figure-wise, he’s very consistent, and versatility should work in his favor. With Joel Rosario aboard, he’s likely to attack from a little bit further off what should be an honest pace.
#5 Charlie’sarchangel – Gimmick player
This five-year-old gelding ran twice during the Churchill spring meet, finishing a dull fifth behind the red hot Colonelsdarktemper over 1 1/16 miles in advance of a second place run behind Wagon Boss in a $16,000 claimer over the same distance last out. Live on the tote that day, he made the lead and set reasonable fractions, only to be worn down late while racing on the wrong lead. Claimed away from Ten Strike, who now owns Wagon Boss, Charlie'sarchangel is now trained by Robertino Diodoro. His previous two efforts were uncharacteristically flat, so the performance was encouraging.
#9 Speedometer (9-5 ML) – Win contender/potential single
Sent off at odds of 3-1 in her career debut on June 18 at Churchill, this half sister to the precocious and talented Nitrous flashed sharp speed but was forced to check into a pocket position early. She chased the front running 4-1 winner Pretty Birdie in the stretch, but was very green in doing so, flopping leads and appearing to lose focus before checking in third. Steve Asmussen’s two-year-old second time starters performed well at Churchill this spring, and this raw talent has an opportunity to do the same.
#7 Zmuda (6-1 ML) – Gimmick player
Dismissed at odds of 18-1 in her June 25 debut at Churchill, this Kenny McPeek-trained daughter of Violence raced three-wide early. She made a steady advance into a hot pace, and ran on willingly to finish a creditable fourth of 11. That wasn’t the strongest race for the level, but McPeek has exceptional numbers with two-year-old second-time starters.
#2 Pout (20-1 ML) - Fade
A hard ridden fifth of eight on debut at Keeneland, this Nick Zito-trained Dialed In filly broke slowly and raced wide on the turn in her follow-up run at Churchill on May 13, and once again failed to threaten, finishing sixth and last. Ontheonesandtwos, the impressive winner that day, returned to finish a very good second is a swift edition on the Debutante at Churchill. The addition of blinkers could help here, but it’s tough to envision her making a serious impact.
#4 Skyro (15-1 ML) – Live longshot
This three-year-old gelded son of Verrazano ran twice at the Churchill, sprinting on dirt both times. Off a 3 1/2 month layoff on May 9, he opened up super live on the toteboard before floating up to odds of 7-2 in a compact field of five $50,000 maiden claimers. Last early but not far off the pace while 3-wide, he made a bold move on the turn while still in hand, and proved solidly best late. He resurfaced four weeks later in a $50,000 starter, and he closed into a hotly contested pace to finish fourth of 11, beaten only two lengths at 13-1. The second foal out of the Hard Spun mare Tiz Ro, his half sister Majestic Ro by Lea won a two-turn turf race, and the dam herself is a half to former Arlington Million winner Jambalaya. There are plenty of grass influences in the pedigree and trainer Brian Lynch has fantastic stats in the applicable categories.
#6 Point Me By (6-1 ML) – Live price shot
Dismissed at odds of 14-1 against 11 maiden special weight rivals in his career debut, this sophomore son of Point of Entry stormed home to a visually impressive turf sprint win. Three-wide early, he was ridden at the three-sixteenths pole before being hung six-wide on the turn. He leveled off nicely in the stretch, and proved much the best late. All three of his dam’s wins came around two turns, and two of those were on turf.
#3 Lady Secret (5-2 ML) - Vulnerable
Sent off as the well-backed 3-2 second choice in her career debut at Churchill on June 4, this daughter of Union Rags enjoyed a perfect, pressing trip only to be held at bay by the favored, gate-to-wire winner Tizaplenty. She was four lengths in front of the filly who ran third in what was a professional performance. The filly who beat her that day returned to finish a best of the rest fourth in a very strong edition of the Debutante at Churchill. Cox doesn’t force the issue with his babies early in the year, so you can expect the better ones to just start surfacing. There are several intriguing first time starters entered here, and although this filly ran well on debut, she’s no slam dunk to hit the board, let alone win.
#11 Jazzy Lady (6-1 ML) – Value play
Hammered down to 3-5 odds when dropped into a $30,000 (nw2) on May 31 at Churchill, this four-year-old daughter of Cairo Prince gave her many backers some anxious moments before eventually getting the job done. In tight between rivals while stalking a tepid pace, she was blocked and then shuffled back a the top of the stretch. She rallied off heels late, and proved much the best in an effort that was even better than it appears on paper. This is tougher test, but the price should be square.
#3 Business Model (5-1 ML) – Win contender
Off a 7 1/2 month layoff in what was his three-year-old debut, and first run on Lasix, this son of Candy Ride ran a monster race over a one-turn Churchill mile. Settled near the back while racing in the clear, he advanced steadily, was hung four-wide on the turn and then rolled home to win smartly. The pedigree suggests that today’s nine furlong distance should be well within his scope and he looks to have a very bright future.
#2 Southern District (4-1 ML) – Win contender
In career start number three and his first on dirt on May 14 at Churchill, this sophomore son of Union Rags was hammered late in the wagering against just five rivals. He stalked a tepid pace while 3-wide and was urged to get even more involved at the three-sixteenths pole. He made a bold move on the turn and drew off as much the best late, and he as the look of a horse who should relish the added distance.
#7 Mr. Tip (15-1 ML) – Live longshot
Claimed for $20,000 on February 24 at Gulfstream, this four-year-old son of Mr Speaker has done a little bit of everything in his 16-race career, but two turns on dirt looks to be his best game off his most recent run at Churchill. Sent off at odds of 4-1 in that $50,000 starter over 1 1/16 miles, he lost ground early and trailed by some ten lengths past the opening quarter mile. The pace was honest, but the main track favored speed that day, and this guy was hung seven-wide on the turn for home before grinding his way to victory. He’ll fly way under the radar here, and is worth including as a borderline A/B in the multi-race wagers.
#10 Bourbon Thunder (15-1 ML) – Gimmick price shot
This 3-year-old gelded son of Quality Road overcame major trouble to win a $50,000 starter over seven furlongs two back at Keeneland. Off slowly in his follow-up start at Churchill over a one-turn mile, he was hung four-wide most of the trip, six-wide on the turn and then stayed on to be third. He’s better than he looks on paper, but out of Stormy Atlantic mare and based on his past performances, I’m skeptical that nine furlongs will suit him as well.
#6 Yearn for Victory (10-1 ML) – Gimmick stretch
In his second career start and first around two turns, this sophomore son of Bayern benefited from an easy lead over a Churchill main track that favored speed. He set an honest pace, but the company was very average. He held safe that day and galloped out best. Lightly raced, he may still have some upside, but he’s going to need to prove it to me.
#9 Claytnthelionheart (10-1 ML) – Gimmick stretch
Just a two-time winner from 20 lifetime starts and he hasn’t gotten his picture taken since 2019. He was second, beaten a nose, behind the lone speed winner two back at Churchill, and then followed up with a troubled third behind another front runner last out. Nine furlongs suit him well and both of his career wins have come at Saratoga, but he’s got plenty of hang in his recent game. I wouldn’t be surprised to see him spice up the gimmicks.
#4 Dack Janiel’s (10-1 ML) – Fade
A three-time winner last year, he hasn’t run nearly as fast in 2021. Overmatched by the monster marathoner Lone Rock in his first start of the year, he finished a dull fourth in his follow-up start. He bounced back in his third run of the Churchill meet last out, finishing a creditable second behind the 10-1, gate-to-wire winner Harvard in what wasn’t the strongest race for the level. The waters are much deeper here, and he doesn’t have the right running style to even earn a slice here.
#11 Camp Hope (20-1 ML) – Fade
This son of Summer Front showed some promise as a two-year-old, but his sophomore debut was unimpressive. Off two lengths slow, he made a moderate middle move into a hotly contested pace, but flattened out in what was a very average race for the level. He can improve, but this is a much, much tougher race, and the outside post doesn’t do him any favors.
#1 Pretty Birdie (7-2 ML) – Win contender
Trainer Norm Casse had a fantastic Churchill meet with his juveniles and this gal might be as good as any of them. Sent off at odds of 4-1 against seven rivals on debut, she was a bit reluctant to load the starting gate, but she broke alertly, showed sharp, natural speed, set a fast pace, ran as straight as a string down the stretch, and drew off smartly.
#9 Cartel Queen (12-1 ML) – Gimmick price shot
A distant second on debut in front of just two rivals at Keeneland, this daughter of Cairo Prince returned to post a professional win against a very average field at Churchill. She sat a pocket trip behind a fast pace, rallied off heels, and ran by late. She’s posted fast works since, and adds blinkers off a win, interestingly enough.
#3 Pipeline Girl (8-1 ML) – Gimmick stretch
Bet down to 9-2 against 10 rivals in her debut, she sat a pocket trip behind a fast pace, was five-wide on the turn, and sustained her bid all the way to the wire to get up in time. They crawled home, so you can’t give her too much credit.