Saratoga Scouting Report: Kentucky Horses for July 22
Portilla defeated Played Hard sprinting in her career debut on Kentucky Oaks Day at Churchill. A lot has happened since, and now the two will renew acquaintances in an intriguing route allowance 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.
#3 Wicked Mad (2-1 ML) – Top win contender; potential single in multi-race wagers
This talented three-year-old Tapit colt has excuses for all three career starts. On May 29 at Churchill, he lost five lengths at the start and was far back early. He finished with some interest but his stablemate Beau Liam, who returned to win last week at Saratoga, was pounds the best. Dropped to this level in his follow-up start, Wicked Mad once again showed no early speed. Buried inside early but with a hot pace in front of him, he rallied through traffic and jumped off heels late, but fell short. He looks like a fantastic candidate for the blinkers he will wear today.
#6 Pregame (5-2 ML) – Secondary win contender; B in multi-race wagers
This sophomore son of More Than Ready has tried a little bit of everything in his six-race career. He ran twice during the Churchill spring meet, with the first of those efforts coming around two turns on turf. He broke five lengths slowly from the extreme outside gate in the field of 11 and was hung four wide. He made a threatening middle move and then flattened out. Cut back to a turf sprint for his follow-up start, he was hung three then four then six wide during the course of the journey and failed to make an impact. He drops in for a tag for the first time, but one could argue his dirt race at Keeneland in April is the best effort in his career.
#7 My Girl Steve (15-1 ML) (MTO) – Fade
In two starts at Churchill, this two-year-old daughter of Trappe Shot failed to make a positive impression. Checked out of it early, losing some six lengths, she was far back early in her April 28 start and failed to make an impact. Six weeks later, she was nudged along while in the clear, felt the whip early and often, and failed to respond. A one-paced sort, two turns could certainly help the cause, but not at this class level.
#4 Singita Dreams (4-5 ML) (MTO) – Top win contender; potential single in multi-race wagers
This five-year-old mare is winless from five starts this year, but she’s held her own against solid competition. In the first of her two Churchill spring starts on May 8, she was pinched out on the first turn and then got covered up at the rail while stalking tepid fractions. Switched out on the turn, she advanced steadily while three wide and was hung five wide off the bend before finishing a distant third behind the 3-5 front runner Crystal Ball. Cut back to a one-turn mile for her follow-up start, she enjoyed a clear, stalking trip behind an even pace. All in on the turn, she sustained her bid with a grinding run and just missed. If this race is taken off the turf, it’s likely to fall completely apart.
#1a Played Hard (3-1 ML) – Top win contender; A in multi-race wagers
This sophomore daughter of Into Mischief has run well in all four lifetime starts, three of which came at Churchill. On April 30, she found herself in a three-way speed duel through fast fractions. She put away those pesky rivals, but was nailed late by Portilla, who she will face again today. On May 28, she broke alertly but stalked the pace for the first time in her career. The fractions were fast and the leaders were battling, but this gal was hung three then five wide over an inside speed favoring track. She settled for third behind a very talented filly who has since returned to win again. Stretched out to two turns for the first time on June 20, she slowly crossed over from the outside post. Tugging a little early, she eventually settled on the front end through slow fractions. She responded when asked, and drew off to a dominating win.
#5 Portilla (6-1 ML) – Top win contender; A in multi-race wagers
In his career debut on April 30 at Churchill, she stalked a fast pace early and ranged up in hand. Hung five wide, she sustained her bid to the wire and got up in the final strides for a game win over a racetrack that did favor outside closers. Stretched out to seven furlongs in the follow-up start, she raced in the clear early while chasing a fast pace. Hung five wide on the turn for home, she finished evenly to the wire. She runs like a horse who should appreciate the stretch out, and the price should be square.
#1 Stop Shoppin Tammy (3-1 ML) -- Other half of the entry a gimmick player only if stands alone
In her first start back off a 9 1/2 month layoff last out at Churchill, she stalked a hot pace from the three path over the one turn mile. Advancing steadily, she was hung four wide on the turn. She had aim on the leaders, but failed to sustained her bid. She stretch out to two turns off the needed run should work in her favor.
#2 Longpants Required (8-1 ML) -- Gimmick stretch
In her first start back off a 5 1/2-month layoff last out at Churchill, this four-year-old daughter of New Year’s Day was covered up at the rail near the back of the pack early while chasing an honest pace. Blocked briefly at the top of the stretch, she split rivals and finished willingly to be fourth. The racetrack favored off the pace types slightly that day, and it was a weak race for the level.