Saratoga Scouting Report: Kentucky horses for August 21-23

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, but on the flipside, some of the Kentucky invaders might not be as good as they look on paper.

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.

Horses are listed in order of preference, with a short comment playability notation in the wrap.

Wednesday, August 21, 2019

Race 6

#7 Flute Maker

Off slowly losing some seven lengths at the start of his debut, it took him some time to settle into a rhythm. Far back early, he found his best stride late and passed tired rivals behind a runaway winner in Night Time, who would return to finish a respectable third in a swiftly run edition of the Ellis Park Juvenile.

Comment: Off the average showing in the debut, it’s interesting that trainer Ken McPeek sent this colt to Saratoga instead of waiting around for the lucrative Kentucky Downs meet. He’s had six local works and has turf influences in the pedigree. His dam’s only win came on turf and she’s a half to a Grade 2 winner on grass. McPeek and Jose Ortiz don’t team up often (Eskimo Kisses’ win in last year’s Alabama [G1] comes to mind), but they’re successful when they do. Looks like a must-use and may be worth a bet.

Thursday, August 22, 2019

Race 4

#5 Grit and Glory

April 27 – Second career start and first in almost a year. Stalked an even pace while in the clear and finished evenly; May 26 – Stalked a hot pace while in the clear three-wide, had aim off the turn, took odd steps deep stretch, got up late over a main track that favored outside closers; June 9 – First try around two turns over a wet fast track that favored wide closers, he broke alertly, set an even pace and could not go on late; June 28 – Stalked a tepid pace from the pocket, came out, finished well but could not reach the front-running winner.

Comment: Off seven weeks, he fits well under starter allowance conditions and the nine-furlong distance should be within his scope. Should find himself in a clear, stalking position. Derby Memories looms as the horse to beat, but this guy certainly looks on par with the rest.

Race 9

#7 Dalika

On May 18 in what was her first North American start, she was off slowly losing five lengths. Clear at the back, she made her move on the turn, was hung seven-wide, made a bid and evened out a bit late. On June 15 in what was an average race at the first-level allowance level, she raced in the clear from the two-path, was hung four-wide on the turn, sustained her bid and held off a hanger to win gamely. Bet down to 3-1 in the ungraded Hatoof Stakes at Arlington, she raced in the clear behind a moderate pace and failed to make a serious impact.

Comment: Even with Jose Ortiz aboard, she looks like more of an underneath type to me here. In the multi-race wagers, if she wins, I won’t.

Friday, August 23, 2019

Race 9

#8 Dot Matrix

Off a nine-month layoff on May 19 at Churchill, he rated near the back of the pack behind an honest pace, found serious momentum on the turn, was hung seven-wide, rallied over the top and drew away late. On July 13 at Indiana Grand over a turf course that favored speed, he took an awkward step when bumped at the start, sat near the back while saving ground behind moderate pace over a turf course that favored speed, found his best stride late but had too much to do.

Comment: Fourth in this race last year, he should find clear sailing behind what looks to be a hot pace. Must use in the multi-race wagers and may be worth leaning on him at the right price.


(c) Adam Coglianese Photography/Meredith Chrimes

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Indiana Grand stakes plays for Saturday, July 13

A total of six stakes races with combined purses exceeding $1 million headline a huge day of racing at Indiana Grand. I tabbed a few contenders who look to be worth a play in the very competitive events.

RACE 9 – Indiana Derby (G3)

The headliner attracted 11 and the horses to beat drew widest in the field. With very little early speed toward the inside of the race, I will give ALWAYSMINING (#6) (8-1) a chance to return to his winning ways. Five-time stakes victor tired when chasing swift fractions in the Preakness (G1) two prior, and he hung around through the finish going a one-turn route in the Easy Goer Stakes at Belmont Park most recently when third. The Kelly Rubley charge has a chance to lead this field early and perhaps steal it under jockey Julian Pimentel.

RACE 8 – Indiana Oaks (G3)

Deep edition of this race attracts an overflow field of 14 for the 1 1/16-mile affair. I am not sure that SUNDAYSATTHBEACH (#4) (8-1) can beat the whole cast in her stakes debut, but I do like the way the Brendan Walsh trainee is progressing in preparation of the affair. The daughter of Medaglia d’Oro has earned BRIS Late Pace figures of 101 and 106 in her two most recent showings, and if things fall into place, she could be a late presence in this spot at a price that will drift up higher than the morning-line number.

RACE 6 – Warrior Veterans Stakes

Nine will travel 1 1/16 miles on the green in a very talented field for the level. DOT MATRIX (#8) (4-1) was a convincing winner of the race in 2018 and, judging by his latest, looms large in hopes of defending his title. The Brad Cox pupil went last-to-first with a rush in his seasonal bow at Churchill Downs over a decent field last out. The New York-bred son of Freud should get an honest pace to rally into with Shaun Bridgmohan on board.

RACE 5 – Mari Hulman George Memorial

A field of 10 fillies and mares will go 1 1/16 miles in this affair. I have a liking for SHE’S PRETTY LUCKY (#4) (8-1) in her return to the dirt. The Eddie Kenneally charge is four-for-six on a fast surface and has the ability to give the top guns in the cast a serious run with her top performance. The Lookin at Lucky four-year-old has a hint of class and should be fit and ready with Declan Cannon aboard.

PHOTO: Alwaysmining (c) Maggie Kimmitt/Maryland Jockey Club

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