Saratoga Scouting Report: Kentucky Horses for July 21
Saratoga Scouting Report: Kentucky Horses for Wednesday, July 21, 2021
The Kentucky presence isn’t quite as pronounced on the Wednesday Saratoga card, but there are a few intriguing runners, including 12-1 shot Core Beliefs, who could make some unexpected noise in the featured ninth event.
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.
#6 Copa (7-5 ML) – Willing to take a stand against
I’m very familiar with this three-year-old gelded son of Liam’s Map from all of his runs in Kentucky and New Orleans. Claimed out of a win for $40K two starts back at Keeneland, he returned in a $50K starter last out, stretching out to a one-turn mile in the process. Cooked in a hot pace, he gave way tamely off the turn. He takes a sizeable drop and puts the blinkers back on off a 10-week break. I just don’t trust him.
#10 Take the Backroads (9-2 ML) – Win contender; A in multi-race wagers
Running under the same sales restricted maiden special weight conditions in her debut, this two-year-old daughter of Will Take Charge was sent off as the 9-5 second choice against just four rivals. Off five lengths slow, she rushed up to press an even pace while three wide. Hung four wide on the turn, she had aim late but hung in the stretch, getting the worst of a three-horse photo. Inside speed was good on the day, so she did race against the bias.
#6 Let’s Be Clear (7-2 ML) – Secondary win contender; B in multi-race wagers
Exiting the same race as Take the Backroads, this daughter of Munnings was sent off as the 4-5 favorite. After breaking three lengths slow in the five-furlong dash, she settled in at the pocket on a solid rail day. Ridden along, she rallied off heels four wide on the turn for home and surged late to just miss behind an 8-1 front-running upsetter.
#7 Absam (7-2 ML) – Top win contender; A in multi-race wagers
This four-year-old son of Hard Spun ran a pair of solid races over the Churchill Downs turf course this spring. On May 6 over nine furlongs, he lost four lengths at the start and sat near the back of the pack early behind pedestrian fractions. Hung four wide while advancing in the middle of the turn, he was hung seven wide off the bend, made a bid and then evened out. Cut back to 1 1/16 miles on June 24, he raced in tight between horses while stalking an even pace and then stayed on late without threatening the sharp, front-running winner. He drops in for a tag for the first time here and looks as good as any.
#10 Win d’Oro (6-1 ML) – Gimmick player; C in multi-race wagers
I’m very familiar with this horse based on all of his runs in Kentucky and New Orleans. In his lone try at Churchill this spring, on May 20, he sat near the back of the pack traveling 12 furlongs behind a super slow, galloping pace. Covered up, he was held up on the turn but raced evenly thereafter. He doesn’t possess any positional speed, and the prospects for a contested pace in this one appear slim.
#16 Prime Time Player (8-1 ML) (MTO) – Win contender; A in multi-race wagers
Sent off as the lukewarm 2-1 favorite against seven $75K maiden claiming foes on May 27 at Churchill, this sophomore son of Ghostzapper lost two lengths at the start and was forced to stalk an even pace over a one-turn mile. In the clear, he made a threatening move while in hand on the turn. Hung five wide, he had aim late and eventually grinded his way to the victory against what was a very average field for the level. If off the turf, this race is likely to fall apart. This colt is very average, but he’d find himself in an advantageous spot.
#4 Core Beliefs (12-1 ML) – Live longshot
Following a major clunker in the Champions Day Marathon at Churchill last September, this six-year-old son of Quality Road disappeared for more than nine months. He returned to action on June 18, and ran even better than the third-place finish would indicate. He broke alertly, but was bothered on the first turn and hung four wide. Stalking in the clear behind fast fractions, he made a bold move on the turn for home and was hung five wide. Bothered during his stretch rally, he evened out late in a race he expected to need to begin with and settled for third.
#5 Empty Tomb (6-1 ML) – Gimmick player; C in multi-race wagers
Cut back to a one-turn mile on May 22 at Churchill, this five-year-old son of Speightstown made the lead through very moderate splits for the distance. He dug in when challenged, and held firm to the wire in what was an advantaged run. Ambitiously placed in the Stephen Foster (G2) in his follow-up start, he broke alertly and set an honest pace, but he was unable to finish with his classy rivals late.
#6 Trident Hit (12-1 ML) – Gimmick stretch
Following a non-threatening effort in the slop on May 9 at Churchill, this four-year-old son of Trident Hit returned with a solid win. After breaking alertly, he was in tight between early before settling into a clear, stalking position behind a slow pace. Hung five wide on the turn for home, he had aim late and eventually grinded down the longshot front runner to get the job done. This is a much tougher spot.
#7 American Dubai (10-1 ML) – Gimmick stretch
Following a string of less-than-average performances, this classy eight-year-old ran his best race in ages on April 24 at Oaklawn. Ambitiously placed in the Blame S. at Churchill in his follow-up start, he ran much better than expected. He led while in hand through tepid fractions, and didn’t give way until very late. A similar performance here wouldn’t be good enough.