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
#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
#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.
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
#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