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, but on the flipside, some of the Kentucky invaders might not be as good as they look on paper. 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 – PROSCHEMA (#4) (8-1) Scored a professional, stalk and pounce win when dropped in for a $75,000 claiming tag on April 27. The follow-up experiment on the turf didn’t work out so well. He lost four lengths at the start, was in tight between horses and did little running thereafter. Back on the main track and dismissed at 25-1 on June 1, he outperformed his odds by finishing a good third behind an odds-on winner. Tugging from the catbird’s seat early, he loomed boldly while still in hand on the turn for home. He tried hard down to the wire but simple couldn’t match strides with the top pair. Cut back to a one-turn mile on June 28, he inexplicably and surprisingly battled a contested pace and simply tired in the final furlong. Comment: Chasing glory at Saratoga versus taking down the condition at Indiana Grand or Ellis Park, he takes the blinkers off for new trainer Bill Mott. He posted a sharp five-furlong breeze in preparation for this. With blinkers on The Rock Says (#8) (3-1) squarely looms as the one to beat, but this guy fits with the next tier of contenders. TAPIT WISE (#1) (8-1) A non-threatening third over a sloppy track that favored off the pace types on May 4, he would fail to threaten in his follow up route. Three-wide on the first turn and four-wide thereafter, he was all in on the second turn and failed to respond. Comment: One of the few horses Tom Amoss took to Saratoga, he returns in a nine-furlong race off a two-month layoff. Willing to fade in the multi-race wagers and use only as an underneath type in the intra-race gimmicks. TIKHVIN FLEW (#2) (12-1) Returned from a seven-week break to finish a dull fifth on June 20. Clear at the back behind a fast pace, he only managed to pass a few tired horses late. Comment: He’s run some creditable races, but it looks like the owners have been a little ambitious with him. One more try before trainer Steve Asmussen pulls the plug and drops him into a high-priced claimer. Looks like an easy pass in the multi’s and a stretch in the intra-race gimmicks. Race 4 – HAY DAKOTA (#7) (4-1) Second best in a very average $40,000 turf claimer at Churchill Downs on May 1, this veteran six-year-old won on the claim and rise off a seven-week break last out. Chasing into an honest pace from the pocket as the lukewarm favorite, he eased out cleanly, got the jump on the late runners, and held firmly safe. It was an advantageous trip for sure. Comment: Former stakes winner fits favorably against this group and he might offer a little value. Must use in multi-race wagers and might be worth focusing on in intra-race bets at reasonable odds. YES I SEE (#13) (6-1) (main track only) Claimed for just $8,000 on April 5 at Oaklawn Park, this eight-year-old gelding stepped right up into an optional claiming/starter last out at Churchill Downs. Saving ground on the rail, he eased up closer on the turn for home, responded when asked, was hung four-wide and sustained his bid in a driving effort. Comment: If this race comes off the turf, it’s likely to completely fall apart. Others who would stay in might be more talented, but this old timer does have consistency on his side. Dope on the pace scenario and see where he might fit. Race 6 – DINAR (#10) (6-1) Off a troubled debut at Keeneland, where he showed some resiliency to be third, he stretched out to a one-turn mile for his follow-up go at Churchill Downs. After breaking alertly, he got stuck four-wide in a six-horse field, was three-wide as he advanced closer to the turn, had dead aim late and kept coming relentlessly, only to just miss. The winner that day (Hitch) was somewhat disappointing in his follow-up start at Ellis Park, but third-place finisher Scars Are Cool returned to break his maiden at Saratoga. Comment: Likely better than he looks on paper and chances are he outperforms his odds. Must consider in the multi-race wagers and might be worth focusing on in intra-race bets at reasonable odds. PICASSO (#6) (9-2) Live on the toteboard in his career debut on May 12, he would eventually float up to 5-1 in the field of 10. Near the back of the pack early behind a hot pace over what I would call a sloppy (not wet fast) track, he made a threatening move on the turn and sustained his bid while racing on the wrong lead. Comment: Appears to have some raw talent and I’m not sure the debut told us very much. In a race with an obvious contender (Free Enterprise) and some intriguing first time starters, I’d have to stretch to get to this guy in the multi-race wagers. I guess it all depends on your budget and ticket construction. Race 8 – COVFEFE (#3) (5-2) Bet down to odds of 2-5 against older off her devastating win at Pimlico, she was urged to the lead in the Roxelana Stakes, battled every step of the way through red hot fractions, dug in but gave way very late and was edged for second by Awestruck, who simply picked up the pieces in front of her. Race winner Mia Mischief wore her down that day, but disappointed in her follow-up start, finishing fourth as the 6-5 favorite in the Honorable Miss Stakes (G2). Comment: Likely to make the lead here, but Serengeti Empress (#1) (7-2) will turn up the pressure at some point. The seven-furlong distance might also be a concern. Can’t argue with using her, but personally I’d be willing to fade and take my chances. Race 9 – YOSHIDA (#7) (10-1) In his first start since finishing sixth in the Dubai World Cup (G1), he landed in the Stephen Foster on June 15. Off slowly losing some four lengths at the start, he made a threatening move into a tepid pace on the turn before flattening out late. Comment: Won the 2018 Woodward Stakes (G1) in his only previous start at Saratoga, but he did close over a racetrack and greatly favored off the pace types that day. I’m OK just using Thunder Snow (#4) (3-1) and McKinzie (#6) (7-5) for multi-race purposes, but would consider using this guy underneath in the intra-race gimmicks. Race 10 – GOT STORMY (#8) (3-1) Ran a winning race in the Churchill Distaff Turf Mile (G2) on May 4. Over a turf course that favored off the pace types, she stalked even fractions early on, made a bold move on the turn for home and spurted away in the stretch, only to be run over late by the deep-closing Beau Recall. Comment: A very productive three-year-old, she appears to have taken a solid step forward at age four. Rested and ready, she finds the perfect spot for her return. A must use and the horse to beat. DIVINE MISS GREY (#10) (6-1) Inexplicably bet down to odds of 3-1 in the La Troienne Stakes (G1), she proved to be no match. Pressing moderate fractions while four-wide, she simply did not go on. Comment: She has some turf influences in the pedigree, but has only run on grass twice. The connections would much prefer if the race came off the grass. If it stays on, she looks like an easy toss. PHOTO: Saratoga Race Course (c) Adam Coglianese Photography