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 – TENCH (#5) (5-1)
On June 23 over a sloppy Churchill racetrack that favored speed, he made the lead through moderate fractions and got away off the turn. He dug in gamely, only to get nailed right on the finish line.
Comment: Trainer Tim Hamm doesn’t run many horses at Saratoga, but this one certainly fits. He’s run second in all three starts on dirt and has worked extremely well locally on turf in recent weeks. Real Money and Ahead of Plan are the horses to beat, but the potential price on this guy makes him inviting. He’s a sneaky use in the multi-race wagers. Take a look at him in the paddock and post parade before making any intra-race decisions, but he’s certainly worth a look.
Race 7 – YELLEN (#9) (5-1)
Not often do you see a Wesley Ward-trained two-year-old debuter sent off at 9-1 in a grass sprint, but this daughter of Fed Biz was. She got a perfect pressing trip through moderate fractions, but gave way at the top of the stretch.
Comment: She only shows three short and easy published in the last two months. Takes a logical drop in class and this doesn’t appear to be a very strong race for the level. She won’t offer any value and I would bank that one of the first timers is better. Fade.
Race 8 – BULLETIN (#7) (5-2)
Off three consecutive wins to begin his career, including the Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint, he was the 1/9 favorite in the William L. Walker Stakes on April 27. Instead of clearing, he was forced to battle the lead through honest fractions, and you knew he was in trouble from the start. He gave way in the deep stretch in what was a very average field for the level and we haven’t seen him since.
Comment: Based on the totality of his resume and the connections, he’s likely to be an underlay in what will be his two-turn debut. He has route influences on the dam’s side of the pedigree, but there’s a chance that he peaked as a two-year-old. He fits well under the conditions, but I’m willing to take a stand against him.
Race 9 – AND SEEK (#3) (6-1)
On May 4 at Churchill, this three-year-old colt was close up over a sloppy track through moderate fractions and was steadied a bit late while evening out. The track did favor off the pace types that day, so the effort was likely better than it looks. Very live on the toteboard on May 30 over a good track that was severely inside speed bias, he lost three lengths at the start, sat in the catbird’s seat, grinding along late and was beaten less than a length. He enjoyed a perfect, pressing trip through moderate fractions in the Iowa Derby, was all in on the turn, steadied briefly while tiring and faded off the scene thereafter.
Comment: Tries nine furlongs for the first time, and based on the way he ran in Iowa last time, I’m not sure he wants to go that far. There are some talented horses in this field that do. An underneath type here (at best) and willing to fade in the multi-race wagers.
PHOTO: Saratoga starting gate (c) Harold Roth/Horsephotos.com