Sunday’s featured race at Saratoga is the $100,000 Birdstone S. over 1 3/4 miles on dirt. Moretti, who takes the blinkers off for Todd Pletcher, looms as the horse to beat.
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.
#4 Guana Cay 6-5 ML
In what was her career debut on July 10 at Keeneland, Guana Cay sprinted on a good turf course that slightly favored speed. She enjoyed a perfect pressing trip early, then lost some ground. She came again while four wide on the turn, but evened out late. It was a spotty performance for a filly who is certainly bred to handle the added ground of today’s assignment. By Air Force Blue, I find it odd that she’s entered for the main track only. Perhaps he likes his other runner #4 Uyuni long on grass?
#5 Curlin Grey 9-5 ML
On May 21 at Churchill, Curlin Grey was out the back early, sitting a rail trip behind a slow pace. He advanced steadily, finished willingly to be second, and galloped out with the odds-on winner Frost Or Frippery, who has been virtually unbeatable of late. He faced that same rival in the follow-up start on June 27 and got a very similar trip, but this time he failed to fire. He fits well and the distance suits. Tough not to use, but difficult to single.
#4 Bluegrass Parkway 7-2 ML
On November 17 over a wonky Churchill turf course that favored off-the-pace types, Bluegrass Parkway raced in the clear in a strung out field while chasing a slow pace. He cut the rail off the turn and rallied, finishing a clear second behind a solid winner. He returns in a perfect spot off an 8 1/2 month layoff here for a trainer who does well off the bench. Both of the favorites have better speed and a recency edge, but there should be a solid enough differential in price to give this guy some consideration.
#2 Spun d’Etat 6-1 ML
Bet down to odds of 5-2 as the second choice in her career debut at Keeneland on July 8, Spun d’Etat broke alertly, stalked an even pace while three wide and stayed on late without seriously threatening in what wasn’t the strongest race for the level. The pedigree says she wants to go longer. I’m willing to take a pass on her today.
#8 Right to Freedom 8-1 ML
In her career debut on July 12 at Keeneland, Right to Freedom pressed into an honest pace while in tight between horses. She threatened briefly while in the clear turning for home, but then flattened. Based on pedigree the move to dirt might help, but I’m guessing this race is won by one of the bigger ticket first timers with fast works.
#2 Tactician 4-1 ML
Off a three-month layoff on May 22 at Churchill, Tactician was in tight between horses early while chasing an honest pace of a loose leader. He found momentum once free, was hung eight wide on the turn, and finished well under a hand ride for show when hopelessly beaten for the win. He puts the blinkers back on and jumps up slightly in price first off the claim. The barn does well in the applicable categories and 9 furlongs on dirt should suit him well, but this guy has only worked three times since raced. Mixed signals, but I’d lean towards using.