by Joe Kristufek With Churchill Downs coming off perhaps their 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. In races with multiple horses with Kentucky ties, they will be listed in order of preference. RACE 3 – Sanford Stakes (G3) By Your Side (#5) (5-2) In what I felt was a key maiden special weight race on June 14, this big ticket ($240K) son of first-crop sire Constitution emerged victorious. He did benefit from a cozy, catbird’s seat trip, but I really like the way he rallied with resolve. Third-place finisher Verb did return to run a game third in the Bashford Manor (G3). RACE 5 Paper Clip (#2) (3-1) Live on the tote early in her seasonal debut on May 16, this sophomore daughter of Cairo Prince eventually rewarded her backers at odds of 7-2. Rating kindly in a perfect, pressing position, she responded when asked and drew away late. It was a slightly better than average race for the level. RACE 6 Enforceable (#4) (5-1) A credible second in her career debut on May 2, this two-year-old gray son of Tapit returned to finish third behind eventual Bashford Manor (G3) runner-up Rowdy Yates. Very reluctant to load into to the gate that day, he lost two lengths at the start and ground it out for show. He acts like a horse that wants to stretch out, but the lack of professionalism is a bit of a concern. Field Pass (#3) (3-1) Dismissed at odds of 13-1 in his career debut on June 21, this two-year-old son of Lemon Drop Kid got a clear run at the back of the pack, was roused inside off the turn and found his best stride late to be second. The winner 45-1. The pedigree suggest he’ll stretch out, but I’m slightly skeptical how good he is. RACE 8 First Wave (#7) (4-1) Reluctant to load the starting gate in her career debut on May 26, this well-bred three-year-old daughter of War Front lost five lengths at the start. Hung three-wide, she made a bold bid while still in hand on the turn but proved to be no match late for the odds-on favorite Vomba. That turf-intended sprint was run over a sloppy track, and the pedigree suggests that the move to the green will benefit her big time. RACE 10 Uber Kirk (#4) (5-1) This four-year-old son of Run Away and Hide is in the best form of his career. In a $50K starter on May 10 over a one-turn mile, he broke two lengths slow, enjoyed a clear trip at the rail, was loaded on the turn, cut the rail late, led and held safe. In the follow-up start over 6 1/2 furlongs on June 23, he once again sat a rail trip and finished like a train; unfortunately, the much-the-best favorite Explorer was long gone. The likely pace scenario looks legitimate and he should relish the seven-furlong distance. Where Paradise Lay (#2) (6-1) This sophomore son of Into Mischief looks good on paper, and he may actually be better than that. Two starts back on May 12, he broke outward out of the gate, stalked a hotly contested pace, advanced steadily in hand while three-wide and eventually got the job done. In the follow-up start on June 21, he had a nightmarish trip. Off slowly losing four lengths, he was in tight between rivals and steadied along while held up on the turn. He responded when asked, but simply had too much to do, and the winner was the talented, even-money favorite Super Comet. Quick Entry (#9) (20-1) This sophomore son of Point of Entry debuted last summer at Saratoga for Ian Wilkes and he’s run fairly well in all four lifetime starts. He has run since enduring a wide trip and finishing evenly in a grassy dash on May 10. He’s trained steadily all along, and perhaps Wilkes wanted to save this Mary Lou Whitney charge for Saratoga. He’s a half to the talented sprinter Viva Majorca and may have more to give. This is a tough task, but he is a longshot worth respecting. Ruler of the Nile (#7) (15-1) Purchased for a cool million at OBS March ’17, he actually dropped into a conditioned $8,000 claimer for his seasonal debut on May 27. He enjoyed a perfect pressing trip that day, but was pushed out five-wide on the turf for home before gutting out the win. The tag doubled off the claim in the follow-up start on June 14. He contested a hot pace while three-wide, led and held firm. He doesn’t show a published work since and this is obviously a much tougher task. I’d be shocked if he was overly competitive, but his early speed makes him an important pace player. El Asesino (#3) (10-1) Looks like a longshot on paper, and my notes do nothing to elevate that status. Two starts back on May 24, he lost three lengths at the start, rushed up to contest a hot pace, and then faded. He ran better in the follow-up start on June 9, battling a contested pace over a racetrack that favored outside closers before evening out to third. That was a much softer race than this one. Market King (#1) (15-1) Thrown to the wolves this past spring, he cuts back and dropped to this level last out, but failed to threaten. Breaking alertly from the extreme outside post 11, he was hung four than three wide the entire journey before flattening out late. He’s an average 3-year-old facing some tough older horses here and his longshot price should accurately reflect his actual chance to win. RACE 11 Derby Champagne (#4) (12-1) This six-year-old gelded son of Pulpit is not the horse he used to be, and after several dull performances in a row, it’s easy to question his desire to compete. Off a couple of lengths slow in both of his Churchill runs this past spring, he simply failed to make an impact. Perhaps cutting the claiming tag in half will help provide a much-needed spark. Gray Sky (#5) (15-1) Despite being bred for it, the six-year-old veteran son of Tapit has only run on turf once in his 47-race career, but he’s not listed as a main track only. He’s run some big races in his career, but his two recent efforts at Churchill leave much to be desired. He was outrun in both with no visible excuse. The only faint hope is that the turf will awaken. If you hate the race and you’re hitting the “all” button, and I wouldn’t blame you if you did, his number will obviously be included. Conqueror (main-track only) (#13) (5-1) A creditable fourth in a $25,000 claiming dirt route on April 27, he stepped up slightly on May 17 and failed to make any sort of impact behind a runaway, gate-to-wire winner. Claimed again, he drops down a notch off of a pair of easy half mile works. He looks like a horse who is headed in the wrong direction and needs the race. PHOTO: Saratoga (c) NYRA/Coglianese Photography