by Joe Kristufek
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.
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.
Destiny Over Fate (main track only) (#9) (6-1)
This sophomore daughter of Drill ($4,500 sire) was purchased for the lofty sum of $150,000 as an Ocala April ’18 two-year-old in training. Her form is spotty and her most recent run is nothing to get excited about. In what was a very average race for the level, she raced evenly all the way around the track while hung three-wide throughout. The pace was moderate and the track did favor inside speed, so the effort was likely better than it looks on paper.
Comic Kitten (#2) (15-1)
This promising daughter of Kitten’s Joy was bet down to 5-2 favoritism in a competitive field of 10 on May 18. In tight on the first turn, she was forced to chase an even pace thereafter and never really made an impact. She failed to resurface the rest of the Churchill meet, but has trained solidly all along. She’s sure to offer an inviting price in a race that came up super tough for the level.
Belle Laura (#4) (8-1)
After enjoying an advantageous, pocket trip, this daughter of Mucho Macho Man would finish an even fourth behind her stablemate Hard Legacy in the Regret (G3) on June 15, marking trainer Norm Casse’s first career stakes win. This isn’t a graded contest, but it appears to be every bit a tough on paper.
Varenka (#11) (3-1)
Super live on the toteboard as the 9-5 favorite against 10 rivals in the Regret (G3), she would finish third, but she was probably best. In tight between rivals early on, she was forced to close into a moderate pace set by the eventual winner Hard Legacy. She rallied strongly though traffic, but the trip and flow were against her. There’s no reason to think she won’t run just as well today. A little racing luck would help.
RACE 9 – Coronation Cup Stakes
Lyrical Lady (#2) (8-1)
Your guess is as good as mine. She’s run two huge races on a fast track, and tired badly on off-going in a pair of graded events. Now she tries turf, which she’s bred for. Her most recent run came in the Eight Belles (G2) on May 3. She couldn’t keep up with the monster Break Even, whom she faces again here, and had to be eased. She shows only a pair of half-mile works in the last nine weeks and you’d have to think she’ll need the race, although trainer Steve Asmussen doesn’t usually operate this way.
Bohemian Bourbon (#3) (12-1)
This versatile daughter of Midshipman won an off-the-turf, first-level allowance on June 6. Live on the tote, she eventually floated up to odds of 3-1 in the field of eight. Racing in the clear three-wide, she made a bold move on the turn while still in hand. Hung six-wide off the bend, she responded when asked and got up in time. That wasn’t the strongest race for the level, but her form indicates she has even more to give on turf. Chances are she’ll outperform her odds, but in a tough race with faster horses, she’ll need to take a substantial step forward. She might.
Midnight Fantasy (#7) (15-1)
The gray daughter of Midnight Lute is in line to bank a lot of cash…against Louisiana-breds. She’s never run on grass, but was intended to last time out. Husted away from the gate in that off-the-turf event, she would eventually hold on for second behind Headland, the winner of six of her last seven starts. Midnight Fantasy wore blinkers in her last two starts, and takes them off for this. I think we’ve seen the best she has to offer, and it’s highly unlikely she’ll move up on turf.
Go Get That (#9) (15-1)
Fifth in all three of his career starts against $50,000 maiden claimers, he takes a needed drop in for $20,000 here. Sprinting on dirt two back, he broke alertly, pressed a fast pace, and evened out. Trying two turns on turf for the first time last out, he lost ground when bothered into the first turn, but raced evenly thereafter. Others appear better on paper, and it would have to be a deep spread to get to him.
PHOTO: Saratoga starting gate (c) Harold Roth/Horsephotos.com