Stakes caliber sprinters are set to match strides in Thursday’s featured 9TH race at Saratoga. Honest Mischief, who ran into a buzz saw in Volatile last out at Churchill, looms as the horse to beat, but there’s another in there I think might be capable of posting a slight upset.

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.

Race 2

#6 Thomas Shelby           4-1 ML

Off a 10-week layoff on May 24 at Churchill, Thomas Shelby was four-wide on the first turn before racing in the clear thereafter in a compact field through very slow fractions. Three-wide on the turn for home, he failed to provide any punch. Eight weeks later, he takes a significant drop off a forward series of drills, and he appears to be a secondary contender. Worthy of using, but leaning towards fade.

Race 6

#1 Balon Rose   8-5 ML

Off a six-month layoff on June 19 at Churchill, Balon Rose was sent off as the 9-5 favorite in a field of 10. Pinned on the rail in a bunched-up field while chasing pedestrian fractions, she was caught in very tight and was completely snatched up in the stretch, losing all chance. The $1 million yearling buy fits here too, but so do many others. If the 8-5 morning line is truly accurate, I’d rather fade than include.

#2 Wild Love      5-2 ML (MTO)

An even fourth sprinting off nearly nine months off on June 26 at Churchill, Wild Love returned four weeks later in a 9-furlong event against just six foes. She spied a slow pace while in the clear, took over on the turn, and was kept to task while extending the margin of victory to the wire. She won by daylight, but it was a weak field for the level. Should this race be taken off the turn, I’d be willing to single #4 Primacy against her in what would likely be a very short field.

Race 9

#3 Admiral Lynch             4-1 ML

In what was his second race back off a three-month layoff on June 25 at Churchill, Admiral Lynch pressed scorching fractions. He proved to be no match for the impressive, gate-to-wire winner late, but considering the splits, he too held very well to finish a clear second. He posted a pair of sharp works between starts, and there’s no reason to think he won’t run another big race. Honest Mischief is the horse to beat, but this guy represents a viable alternative to the favorite.

#4 Honest Mischief         8-5 ML

In his first start off a six-month layoff on June 6 at Churchill, Honest Mischief had the misfortune of running into Volatile, who nearly broke the track record while under wraps and will return to action as one of the favorites in Saturday’s Vanderbilt (G1). Racing in the pocket behind fast fractions, Honest Mischief cut the rail off the turn that day and loomed boldly. He proved to be no match for the winner, but he did hold on gamely for second. A worthy single, especially on a small budget or if you’re planning on spreading deep elsewhere.

#6 Captain Scotty             9-2 ML

On June 27 off a four-month layoff at Churchill, Captain Scotty sprinted on turf for the second time in his 15-race career. He pressed a fast pace, but was cooked on the turn by the leader, who would then go on to complete the gate-to-wire voyage. He returns to the main track for a barn that can surely turn his form around, but perhaps that trip to Saudi Arabia wasn’t a good idea. I’d be willing to take my chances against him.

Race 10

#6 Continuum   5-1 ML

A winner at first asking in an August maiden special weight event at Remington, he returned off a 10-month layoff at Churchill on June 26. Away awkwardly, losing a couple of lengths at the start, he raced in the clear at the back of the pack behind honest fractions and failed to menace. It’s tough to be confident in any of the favorites in this race, including him. Either single the Chad Brown runner #11 Financialstability or spread deep and hope for chaos.