As the racing analyst at Churchill Downs, it’s my job to provide information you can’t necessarily read in the past performances. I keep detailed track bias, pace and trip notes for every race, every day, and that information can prove to be quite valuable, particularly when horses travel from one circuit to another.
For the entirety of the Saratoga meet, I will provide “scouting reports” for the horses who raced in Kentucky in their most recent start.
#3 Dooley (20-1 ML)
With New York racing shut down longer than Kentucky, the connections decided to send this state-bred to compete against open company at Churchill, and as you can see by the running line, that didn’t go so well. The pace was hot and he got outrun at every call. He’s much better than that on his best day, the return to state-breds should help, and the form has certainly been darkened.
#2 Figure of Speech (3-1 ML)
Off since her third place finish in the Spinaway (G1) at Saratoga, she was bet down to 3-1 in a field of 12 in her return race at Churchill. Off slowly losing three lengths at the start, she rushed up into the pocket while chasing honest fractions over a fair playing racetrack. She failed to threaten while not pushed on late, and looked like a horse who needed the race. The longshot winner that day was Sconsin, who returned to finish second in the Beaumont (G3) this past Saturday at Keeneland.
#3 Palace Avenger (2-1 ML)
Solid yet unspectacular as a 2-year-old, she took her game to a new level in her sophomore debut at Churchill last out. Away alertly, she battled through honest fractions and held on to finish second behind the talented Dos Vinos over a racetrack that slightly favored off the pace types. Third place finisher Club Car returned to dominate her follow-up start before finishing a strong second behind Dos Vinos last week. If Palace Avenger runs back to her last start, the rest of these, including the two Chad Brown runners, will be forced to compete for minor awards.
#5 Valetta (5-2 ML)
She ran decently in two starts at Churchill, losing to well meant Chad Brown horses. On May 12, she broke alertly in a full field of 12, was tugging from the pocket into a fast pace, and evened out late to finish fourth over a racetrack that slightly favored wide and off the pace runners. Adding blinkers for her June 20 start, she veered out at the start losing three lengths, raced three-wide, and failed to make a serious impact in the stretch, finishing fifth of 12. Valetta switches barns, cuts back in distance and takes the blinkers off for this. There’s a lot going on here for a filly who is what she is. In a race full of first- or second-time starters, I’m willing to fade this gal if she’s the sort of price the morning line is promising.
#6 No Bad Days (12-1 ML)
Off a 10-week layoff on May 23 at Churchill, he broke alertly, pressed into a fast pace while three-wide, and tired on the turn behind the 2-5 favorite over a racetrack that slightly favored wide and off the pace. The horse who ran second broke his maiden at Keeneland this past Saturday. With the cutback to a turf sprint off a needed race with Rosario, he could grab a piece of this at a price.
#3 Beautiful Memories (6-5 ML)
Bet down to odds of 2-5 in her career debut against 10 rivals, she was reluctant to load the starting gate, but broke alertly. Nudged a bit in the stretch, she switched leads cleanly and was geared down late. Yogurt, the horse who ran second that day, did break her maiden sprinting on turf at Keeneland, but the rest of the filed wasn’t much. She has some talent, but today’s race should provide a much, much, much, much, MUCH tougher challenge.
#5 Sunny Isle Beach (15-1 ML)
In a $75,000 maiden claimer, she debuted against a field of nine foes who may not have been worth that much collectively. Sent off at 3.40-1, which is chilly for a Wesley Ward first timer, she broke slowly, losing three lengths at the start. Three-wide on the backstretch, she was hung 6-wide on the turn before rallying through traffic and eventually down to the rail, where she got up in the final jump. If she wins today, I won’t.
#8 Hopeful Princess (2-1 ML)
Super live on the toteboard on debut for trainer John Hancock, she lived up to that respect in the race. Alert away from the starting gate against eight foes, she got a perfect spying trip behind the speedy Mad Maddy, wore down that talented foe gamely late, and galloped out best. Steve Asmussen, who trains Mad Maddy, now conditions this Not This Time filly following a private purchase by Stonestreet Stables. I like the talent and tenacity she showed on debut, and the outside post here helps the cause. THE ONE TO BEAT.
#9 Katzarelli (30-1 ML)
Facing elders in a $50,000 starter, he was in the clear early while chasing an even pace. He made a bold move on the turn, but was absolutely stymied behind a wall of horses, losing all momentum before finishing evenly thereafter. You would guess the strategy here will be to sit back and make one run late, which he will. He’d need to improve significantly to win, but at 30-1 in the ML, the gelding’s worth including at the back-end of the gimmicks.