Scully: Price plays for July 24
Del Mar, Race 1 (5 p.m. ET)
After a couple of turf efforts last fall, including a third at Santa Anita, #8 High Con (15-1) came back this year with a pair of dirt starts. She’s hooked some nice fields, losing to stakes performers Lady Aces, Pizzazz, and Plum Sexy, and the $325,000 Nyquist filly should appreciate the return to turf against a suspect cast of rivals on Saturday. Her speed is eligible to play well in an eight-horse field lacking frontrunners, and High Con has a chance to steal it with apprentice Jessica Pyfer.
Ellis Park, Race 6 (4:10 p.m. ET)
Twelve juvenile fillies are set for the five-furlong maiden test, and first-time starters from the barns of Steve Asmussen, Brad Cox, Dale Romans, and Brendan Walsh are fancied on the morning line. I’m keen on #1 Sunday Grace (10-1), who will make her second outing following a fifth in a June 25 maiden at Churchill Downs. Overlooked at 56-1, Sunday Grace showed outstanding speed from the gate to contest the pace before weakening to fifth in the stretch. Beaten six lengths by Pipeline Girl, a promising debut scorer for Tom Amoss, Sunday Grace shows a pair of works in the 29-day interim for Rey Hernandez, who is winning at a 20% clip this year. If she breaks from the rail, Sunday Grace may continue to improve with a strong showing on the front end.
Saratoga, Race 2 (1:41 p.m. ET)
After earning his first win on Thursday, Phil Bauer will send out #4 Pathetique (15-1) in a maiden special weight on the inner turf. The three-year-old filly missed the break when debuting in a turf sprint at Churchill five weeks ago, rallying belatedly for eighth, and I won’t count that effort against her – the $450,000 Uncle Mo filly is bred for two turns. She hails from a stamina-laced female family – her dam, a turf maiden winner, won a Grade 2 and finished second in a Grade 1 at two turns -- and Pathetique has cranked up her training in preparation, recording a pair of quick works (:47 4/5 and ::47) at Saratoga. Bauer, a 13% overall trainer, wins at 21% in the first route start and 18% in the second career start, and Pathetique rates as an intriguing prospect at expected long odds.
Saratoga, Race 7 (4:29 p.m. ET)
After needing three starts to figure things out, #1 Performing Arts (10-1) nearly overcame a less-than-favorable trip to break his maiden two back. The three-year-old ridgling kept advancing with a convincing one-length maiden triumph at Churchill on June 5, and the late runner can make it two straight on Saturday. By Dansili, Performing Arts counts graded stakes winners Oscar Performance, Oscar Nominated, and Award Winner as half-brothers, and the Brian Lynch trainee doesn’t appear to be facing the toughest group of entry-level allowance foes. He will be saving ground during the early stages with the hot-riding Luis Saez.