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.
Horses are listed in order of preference, with a short comment playability notation in the wrap.
Race 2 – CARRIZO (#6) (8-5)
This daughter of Paynter made a very nice impression in just two starts as a two-year-old, but she has gone the wrong direction this season. Following a pair of disappointing runs at Oaklawn, she dropped into a $50,000 nw2. Bet down to 8-5 favoritism, she failed to take advantage of an advantageous pocket trip and finished an even fourth. She cuts her tag in half off the claim and faces strictly three-year-olds here.
Comment: This is easily the softest field she’s ever faced, but she’s tough to trust. I’d be more inclined to spread than single.
BRONCO SALLY (#4) (9-2)
Seven of this gal’s nine career runs have come around two turns on turf. Cut back to a one-turn mile on good dirt last out, she looked poised to run a big race, but instead she flattened under a heavy drive. In what will be her first start for a new barn, she drops in class and is back with strictly three-year-olds.
Comment: Not sure seven furlongs is her jam, but she may be a contender by default in what appears to be a weak race for the level.
DESTINY OVER FATE (#7) (4-1)
This sophomore daughter of Drill ($4,500 sire) was purchased for the lofty sum of $150,000 as an Ocala April ’18 two-year-old in training. Her form is spotty and her most recent run is nothing to get excited about. In what was a very average race for the level, she raced evenly all the way around the track while hung three-wide throughout. The pace was moderate and the track did favor inside speed, so the effort was likely better than it looks on paper.
Comment: It’s tough to get excited about her, but it’s tough to count completely her out in a race with more questions than answers. Worth using with a deep spread and hope approach.
Race 4 – GETOFFMYBACK (#5) (5-1)
California-bred ran some big races earlier in his career, but his last two efforts leave much to be desired. Off a seven-week break last out at Churchill, he chased the lone speed through controlled fractions before backing out tamely on the turn for home.
Comment: Looks like a safe toss here.
BOLITA BOYZ (#7) (6-1)
Finished in front of Getoffmyback in their recent encounter, and much like that stablemate, this eight-year-old appears to have had better days. He finished with a little energy in that June 21 race but somebody had to be third and this contest looks much tougher than that one.
Comment: Looks like a safe toss here.
Race 5 – KIAWAH SUNSET (#2) (5-1)
Bet down to 8-5 favoritism off a runner-up debut at Belmont Park, this daughter of Uncle Mo would check in a disappointing fourth. She broke a step slow that day and was hung four-wide throughout. Six-wide on the turn, she would even out late behind a 32-1 winner in what I felt was an average race for the level. She takes the blinkers off and races on dirt for the first time in this one.
Comment: First-timers Finite (#6) (5-2) and Mrs. Danvers (#7) (7-2) look promising but far from overwhelming. I’m not a big fan of this gal, but she almost looks like a “must use” by default.
Race 6 – TACTICAL PURSUIT (#1) (10-1)
A tired sixth after pressing a fast pace two starts back in a beaten $40,000 claimer, he cut that tag in half last time out and wired the field. He set slow fractions that day while in hand and responded when asked. It looks like he was claimed out of that race with the intention of getting him back on turf.
Comment: He’s done some of his best work on grass, but I don’t think he’s the same horse now as he was back then. An underneath player at best here.
CLEAR FOR ACTION (#7) (7-2)
Dropped into a $40,000 beaten claimer when Ken and Sarah Ramsey were chasing the Churchill Downs owners title (wound up tied with Maggi Moss and Calumet Farm), this upstart four-year-old ran his eyeballs out to defeat stablemate Local Hero, who has already won at this Saratoga stand. Forced to break from post 10 of 12, he fought the jockey early while pressing a hot pace from the rail. He led off the turn and dug in gamely to score.
Comment: He fits like a glove under these starter allowance conditions, but with other speed signed on, his chances will improve immensely if he can settle in just off of it.
Race 7 – CAPE ANGEL (#2) (10-1)
A former $30,000 maiden claimer, this guy ran some promising turf races last season. In his seasonal debut on June 21, he was covered up on the rail behind an honest pace, urged at the three-eighths pole, he put forth a sustained bid and actually found his absolute best stride very late in the game.
Comment: He won over 1 3/16 miles over the Keeneland turf in October and he has the look of a horse who will relish marathon distances moving forward. He’s sneaky at a nice price here.
NEEPAWA (#4) (15-1)
Ontario-bred has won twice on turf and he may still have some upside. Two back over 1 1/2 grassy miles at Keeneland he was comprised at the start and may have moved a bit prematurely. Notice Krewe Chief was second that day which a much cleaner go. Last out he could not have hated the slop any more than he did, but a bullet work in advance of this signals a return to form.
Comment: Looks like more of a gimmicks contender, but if you’re spreading deep in multi-race wagers, he might be more useable than he looks.
KREWE CHIEF (#1) (15-1)
His last three turf starts, all at distances of nine furlongs or greater, have been very productive. Unfortunately for him, four of his last five outings have come on dirt. Last out in the slop when putting the blinkers back on, he gutted out second behind a deep closing winner.
Comment: His form has been darkened, but this race came up tough for the level. I don’t see him as a top contender. It all depends on how deep you want to go.
MIDNIGHT TEA TIME (#6) (10-1)
A two-time winner, but in one of those races he could have easily have been disqualified and in the other he defeated just three rivals, all of whom hated the slop. He showed very little off a 10-week break last out, failing to make a dent in a fast-paced, off-the-turf race.
Comment: He’ll appreciate the move back to turf but might be worth more consideration over a sloppy track with a decimated field. As a grass race, this one looks too tough for him.
Race 8 – HE HATE ME (#6) (10-1)
This improving four-year-old trained smartly going into his last start, but after enduring at three-wide trip while stalking into a fast pace, he fell a head short to the graded caliber Mr. Crow.
Comment: Fired a bullet work over the Saratoga training track in preparation for this. He’s never been better, but is it good enough against this tough group. The risk might be worth the potential reward.
HONORABLE TREASURE (#4) (12-a)
He got good after adding blinkers the tail end of 2018. The trip to Dubai was a disaster, but he bounced back nicely off a four-month layoff to edge a deep and talented, full field of foes last out. After stalking a fast pace, he made a sharp middle move that he actually sustained to the wire.
Comment: This is a tough race, but this guy is two for three at Saratoga and his arrow is back pointing up. Worth considering at a price.
Race 9 – WINTER SUNSET (#3) (6-1)
An even third behind the classy Concrete Rose in a salty edition of the Edgewood (G3), she wound up chasing Hard Legacy all the way around the turf last out in the Regret (G3). She enjoyed a perfect spying trip behind that front-running winner through moderate splits and she simply could not get past. Third place finisher Varenka, who was likely best that day, returned to win a salty turf allowance last week at Saratoga.
Comment: Chad Brown holds a trio of aces here (ho hum). If you’re willing to stretch beyond those, this gal is useable.
Race 10 – GOOSE DRANK WINE (#1) (8-1)
Creditable efforts at a similar level in his last two starts. Two back he raced in the clear behind a contested pace, was hung six-wide on the turn while under urging and evened out. Last out he enjoyed an advantageous pocket trip, was ridden while five-wide on the turn and sustained his bid while trying hard for third behind a logical winner. Nine furlongs should suit him.
Comment: If you’re not inclined to single Ranger Up (I might be), this guy is certainly useable.
SUPER SILVER (#4) (12-1)
Finished a half-length behind Goose Drank Wine in their May 10 encounter and he did contest a hot pace in a race he expected to need that day. Tugging while in tight between foes over a one-turn mile in the follow-up start, he would wind up third behind a legit pair for the level. Last out on turf, he was checked on the first turn, was tugging while in tight and then raced evenly thereafter.
Comment: He should be forwardly placed here, but it appears as though the early fractions will be honest. Tough to imagine him sealing the deal over nine furlongs. More of an underneath player.
CLAYTNTHELIONHEART (#7) (30-1)
Makes just the fifth start of his career and second this year. Endured a traffic-filled trip over a sloppy track in a race he expected to need last out. His dam is a half to Grade 1 winner Appealing Zophie.
Comment: Needs to run faster in order to contend with these, but also enters this race fresher than most and with excuses. Gimmick price shot. Multi-race bomber, if you’re against Todd Pletcher.
PHOTO: Saratoga (c) NYRA/Adam Coglianese Photography