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.
#15 Tikhvin Flew 5-2 ML (MTO)
In his second start off a 7 1/2-month layoff on May 28 at Churchill, Tikhvin Flew was hustled away from the starting gate to sit a perfect spying trip behind an even pace. He drew even on the turn, but raced on the wrong lead and was erratic in the stretch, finishing a flat fourth. Three weeks later over a sloppy one-turn mile, he was bumped at the start and was once again hustled away from the gate. He was three wide on the backstretch and four wide on the turn before finishing a distant fourth of five. He’s a bit of a fraud, but with little to no chance of this race coming off the grass, it likely won’t matter today.
#2 Victory Boulevard 2-1 ML
Off a two-month layoff on May 17 at Churchill, Victory Boulevard lost four lengths at the start, sat at the back of the 11-horse field early while in the clear, and rallied belatedly to split the field. He fits well in this short field, but appears to be more of a top candidate for second than the win.
#6 The Great Dansky 1-1 ML
In his first race off the Brad Cox claim on June 12 at Churchill, The Great Dansky bobbled at the start, losing four lengths. He rushed up into the pocket while tugging hard behind a hot pace. The short comment says he “steadied’ at the eighth pole, but I saw it as more of a dream run. He finished up evenly in what was a solid race for the starter $50K level. He’s trained sharply since, drops into a win spot and is well drawn outside. Looks like a stone cold single to me.
#1 Mad Maddy 5-2 ML
In her career debut on May 21 at Churchill, Mad Maddy broke alertly, made the lead through fast fractions, was roused and she dug in late, only to lose a narrow decision to Hopeful Princess, who returned to finish a decent third in the Schuylerville (G3). In her follow-up start four weeks later, she was stirred up on the track pre-race and then broke a bit slow, losing a couple of lengths at the start. Hung four wide on the backstretch, she was five-wide on the turn, had aim, but hung a bit late from those early efforts, losing a narrow decision to a 38-1 debuter. American Pharoah’s progeny have been good on grass, but this gal is probably not as good as she looks on paper, and she might be worth taking a stand against as the likely favorite.
#9 Cousteau 3-1 ML (MTO)
Bet down to even-money in his career debut at Churchill on June 19, Cousteau broke last in the field of seven, losing three lengths at the start. He rushed up three-wide into a stalking position, advanced steadily, made a threatening bid on the turn, and then evened out late in what has turned out to be a very key race for the level. The winner Jackie’s Warrior may have been the most impressive 2-year-old winner the entire Churchill meet, and the runner-up Dayoutoftheoffice returned to upset the Schuylerville by open lengths. It’s highly unlikely that this race will be taken off the turf, so let’s keep tabs on him for later.
#2 Eye of a Soldier 6-1 ML
The final start of Eye of a Soldier’s 2-year-old season came in the Jessamine (G2) at Keeneland, where she was out the back early from an outside post and rallied belatedly into an honest pace over a turf course that favored outside and off the pace. She’s a tough read off the bench, but this doesn’t appear to be the strongest race for the level.
#6 Witez 4-1 ML
Off a three-month layoff on May 31 at Churchill, Witez broke alertly and enjoyed an advantageous, pocket trip behind tepid fractions. Held up slightly on the turn, she kicked nicely in the stretch, finishing second best behind Crystal Cliffs, who would return to finish second in the Regret (G3). She too ran back in the Regret, and from an outside post she stalked an even pace while racing in a claustrophobic position. Hung five-wide on the turn, she failed to provide any punch in the stretch over a course that slightly favored speed. The 1x is a better gauge of her ability than the Regret. She looks salty to me in this spot.
#7 American Mandate 3-1 ML
Off a two-month break on June 28 at Churchill over a wet fast track, American Mandate broke alertly and got a clear, pressing trip into a fast pace. He ran well, but fell short, which is his storyline more often than not. He finished second (where else) in his only previous try on grass and (pre-scratches) he appears to be third best in this one.
#4 Amani’s Eagle 15-1 ML
Following a disappointing performance over a wet fast track at Churchill on May 16, Amani’s Eagle was much better when stretched out to 1 3/16 miles in his follow-up start. In a perfect, pressing position through moderate fractions early on, he took over on the backstretch while in hand. Nudged at the top of the stretch, he drew off and won under wraps. The speed figure didn’t come back very fast and he faces a much tougher task in this one. That being said, the arrow is pointing up and the price will be right. Might be worth a spread to him if you’re more narrow in some of the other races in sequence.
#5 Beau Luminarie 6-1 ML
Stretched out around two turns for the first time in a 9-furlong allowance race on June 26 at Churchill, Beau Luminarie broke slowly, losing two lengths at the start. Moving on the turn into a moderate pace, he was hung seven-wide, but he managed to sustain that bid and was slowly getting to the winner late before galloping out in front. He certainly answered the distance question in a positive way. With a better break he should be more forwardly placed, and there’s no reason to think he won’t run another big race. At 6-1 in the morning line, I’m a fan.
#4 Mr Dumas 12-1 ML
On May 21 at Churchill, Mr Dumas enjoyed a dream trip, pressing in the clear through moderate fractions before taking the lead at the top of the stretch and holding safe. Five weeks later, he once again found clear sailing, this time into fast fractions. Five-wide off the turn, he ran on willingly, but the 15-1 front runner forgot to stop. He faces a much tougher field here, and appears to be up against it.
#3 Dreamonmebaby 15-1 ML
Over a sloppy 7 furlongs on June 4 at Churchill, he made a steady advance to the pocket while chasing fast fractions, but failed to punch home, splitting the field of 12. Claimed out of that race, he steps up slightly and stretches out on turf for the first time. The first four races of his career came at Oaklawn, where they have no turf course, so it’s not surprising that he hasn’t tried it yet. He could be sneaky at a big price.