Catching My Eye: Saratoga and Ellis Park July 28 - 31

August 1st, 2023

Kevin Kilroy shares the performances at both Saratoga and Ellis Park that caught his eye this past weekend. 


Friday, July 28

If you’ve ever wondered what it might look like if you strapped a jet pack to the back of a horse, then watch this late move from Faraday last Friday in Race 6 at Saratoga. Demonstrating his push-button speed, he also handles like an Aston Martin, diving inside forward rivals in the final stages to get up for the maiden win going 1 3/8 miles on the inner turf course. 

A half to Sadler’s Joy and a full sibling to Wolfie’s Dynaghost, no doubt we’ll see this Chad Brown trainee targeting stakes sooner or later. Brisnet shows an 89 Speed figure for the maiden win, but more revealing than that is the 101 late pace figure Faraday produced. If the gallop out is a reliable indication, don’t doubt that he can go further.

And look out for second-place finisher Swore to be a maiden no longer, as he too ran well but was bumped at the wire when surging ahead of the front-running Smart Uncle. Jockey Jose Ortiz surprisingly gave Smart Uncle a left-hander at the wire, while leaning in Swore’s direction to knock him as he passed. The stewards didn’t approve of this seemingly intentional indiscretion by Ortiz, and adjusted finishing positions accordingly. 

Sunday, July 30

There’s nothing too eye-catching about Channel Maker’s way of winning. To the lead, slow them down, and conserve energy to hold off any late-kickers. That’s how he got it done in Sunday’s $250,000 Bowling Green (G2) at Saratoga over an inner turf course rated good. It had been two years since Manny Franco had climbed aboard the Bill Mott trainee but I guess it was just like riding a bike. Franco has now been aboard for three of the nine-year-old gelded son of English Channel’s ten lifetime scores.

Having broken his maiden in the Vandal Stakes, Channel Maker’s wins have all come in stakes, including four grade one and three grade two scores. Fifty-four starts and just under $4 million in career earnings, cheers to Channel Maker and everyone connected to him--what a cool horse still getting it done at age nine.

Ellis Park

Sunday, July 30

How about that turf foot on Johny’s Fireball? After being claimed for $50,000 at the beginning of June, the new addition to Norm Casse’s barn hadn’t been on the grass for two years. But that is the surface the son of Tonalist broke his maiden on at first asking at Ellis Park. Returning to that same distance and surface and being entered for the same price he was purchased, Martin Garcia broke Johny’s Fireball from the far outside, got to the lead, and properly slowed things down in his favor. With stakes winners behind him, he was able to not only hold off all late bids by 1 1/2 lengths, but he maintained that margin in the gallop out. Nobody bid for him in the claiming box, so Casse keeps him, and I wouldn't be surprised to see him going nine panels or even longer next out. 

We hadn’t seen the $600,000 Into Mischief colt Pensacola since his first day as a freshman 11 months ago when he lost by a nose to Hurricane J.  On Sunday at Ellis Park, he returned triumphantly, beating 10 others and posting a solid 88 Brisnet Speed figure to build from going forward. You would have thought many had thrown away their note about him exiting a key race where he was flattered by the company’s next runs, but alas, no. They saw him coming to the tune of 2.31-1.

Trained by Rudy Brisset, Pensacola broke sharply in front and was soon joined by four others lined up across the track. With Gerardo Corrales aboard, the bay colt was able to withstand the pressure, knocking off challengers to his inside and out. This race was seven furlongs and he held on by a diminishing half-length, so route distances could be a question for the half-sibling to Bay Storm, both out of the Midshipman mare Stormy Regatta. However far he goes next out, Pensacola will be game and likely offer value when rising up to face winners for the first time.

Monday, July 31

One year after Pretty Mischievous's victorious debut, Brendan Walsh has a new interesting two-year-old filly on the scene as Condon Candy romped at Ellis Park on Monday. Facing a field of 10 going six panels, the Unified filly out of the Distorted Humor mare Sweetness ‘n Light pulled away by 7 3/4 lengths. Wow. Breaking sharply and positioning immediately behind Miss Escapade, by the time she reached the first call, she had her head in front and never looked back. 

The sixth choice on the board, Condon Candy paid 11.17-1 and earned a 85 Brisnet Speed figure. For reference, the KY Oaks winner Pretty Mischievous earned an 86 in her maiden breaker.