Horses to Watch: 7 run from coast to coast

Horses to Watch: 7 run from coast to coast
Photo: Sue Kawczynski/Eclipse Sportswire

In this biweekly series, racing analyst Keeler Johnson shares promising horses from his handicapping watch list, reviewing runners who have recently caught his eye and previewing horses scheduled to run back in the near future.

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Damon’s Mound

Damon’s Mound was as impressive as could be in his debut sprinting six furlongs at Churchill Downs last month. Despite breaking slowly, the son of Girvin recovered to easily sweep past rivals and dominate by 12 1/2 lengths under very little urging in 1:09.84 seconds.

This effort has stamped Damon’s Mound as one of the key contenders for victory in Saturday’s fourth race at Saratoga, the Saratoga Special (G2) (post time 2:47 p.m. EDT). The showdown between Damon’s Mound and Gulfport (see below) should rank among the highlights of the weekend.

Going Global

Going Global has been a force to reckon with since arriving in the United States, recording seven stakes wins and six graded wins from 10 starts. Her record at Del Mar is particularly accomplished, with a triumph in the Del Mar Oaks (G1) and Goldikova (G2) among the highlights.

Going Global suffered a rare defeat on turf when third in the Gamely (G1) last time out, but she was only beaten 1 1/2 lengths against a strong field and figures to rebound while facing easier company in Saturday’s sixth race at Del Mar, the Yellow Ribbon Handicap (G2) (post time 7:30 p.m.).

Gulfport

As impressive as Damon’s Mound was in his debut, favoritism in the Saratoga Special will likely fall on Gulfport. The exciting son of Uncle Mo trounced his own debut at Churchill Downs by seven lengths before posting a gate-to-wire score in Churchill’s six-furlong Bashford Manor, winning with complete authority by 12 1/4 lengths in 1:09.25 seconds.

In terms of Beyer and Brisnet speed figures, the Bashford Manor was faster than Damon’s Mound’s maiden win, and although figures for early-season juveniles can fluctuate sharply from race to race, Gulfport has to be viewed as the runner to beat under hot jockey Joel Rosario.

Regal Glory

Regal Glory won her first stakes in 2018, but the 6-year-old mare is only now reaching her peak. Regal Glory has gone undefeated in three starts this season, highlighted by victories in the Jenny Wiley (G1) and Just a Game (G1).

In the Just a Game, Regal Glory romped by 3 1/2 lengths over next-out graded stakes winners Wakanaka and In Italian, so she looks more than ready to take on male rivals in Saturday’s 10th race at Saratoga, the Fourstardave Handicap (G1) (post time 6:13 p.m.). She’s facing a small field and is the fastest entrant from a Brisnet Speed rating perspective, so a third straight Grade 1 win is likely in the offing.

Rhetoric

Rhetoric fired off a big effort in his return from a 10 1/2-month layoff, wiring a six-furlong maiden special weight at Los Alamitos by six lengths. We’ll see if this beautifully bred sophomore son of Quality Road can keep his momentum going in Saturday’s third race at Del Mar, a $40,000 allowance optional claimer (post time 6:00 p.m.).

Rhetoric is facing only six rivals and is by far the most lightly raced entrant, so this Bob Baffert trainee still has upside for improvement under hot jockey Juan Hernandez. A victory on Saturday could be a steppingstone into stakes company.

Sconsin

It’s safe to say Sconsin loves Churchill Downs, where she’s won three graded stakes and compiled a lifetime record of five wins and three seconds from nine starts. It’s no wonder why she’s entered to race in Saturday’s seventh race at Churchill Downs, the Lady Tak (post time 4:09 p.m.).

There’s plenty of speed in the Lady Tak field, which should suit Sconsin’s stretch-running style just fine. Hot jockey Tyler Gaffalione (the leading rider at Churchill over the past couple of years) is named to ride, so the stage is set for Sconsin to pick up another stakes win over her favorite track.

Top of the Charts

Two starts, two victories. After winning his debut sprinting six furlongs at Churchill Downs (beating a next-out winner by 2 3/4 lengths), Top of the Charts had no trouble trouncing a 6 1/2-furlong allowance at Churchill by four lengths.

Top of the Charts is stepping up in class and distance for Sunday’s ninth race at Ellis Park, the Ellis Park Derby (post time 5:40 p.m.). But Top of the Charts boasts a decent pedigree for stretching out over one mile and owns the two highest Brisnet Speed ratings in the field, so I’m optimistic he can make his stakes and route debut a winning one.

Which horses do you have your eyes on?

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