The Jury: Bets and fades for April 14
The quorum of James Scully and Vance Hanson have assembled to provide their best plays of the weekend in this edition of the TwinSpires Jury.
What is your best bet?
James Scully: After making one start over a 20-month period, #4 Candy Man Rocket (6-1) has rounded back into fitness for Bill Mott, recording a pair of sharp sprint wins at Gulfstream, including a two-length score in the Feb. 25 Gulfstream Park Sprint, and the lightly-raced five-year-old will have more to offer in Saturday’s Count Fleet Sprint H. (G3) at Oaklawn Park. A six-furlong specialist, Candy Man Rocket’s speed should ensure a favorable tracking trip in his first graded sprint attempt.
Vance Hanson: #6 Baby Billy (10-1) looks an intriguing price play in the fifth race at Keeneland, a first-level allowance for three-year-olds going nine furlongs on the turf. The son of Gormley was uncompetitive in the Jeff Ruby (G3) last out, but two back broke his maiden at Gulfstream in what was his only start on the turf to date. He didn't wear blinkers that day, and they're back off again here after proving useless up at Turfway. Flavien Prat hopping aboard is another positive in his favor.
Who is the horse to fade?
JS: #11 Portfolio Company (8-5) in the third race at Keeneland Saturday. The four-year-old gelding has dropped six of seven starts since winning his debut in July 2021, and he’s struggled to string races together for Chad Brown, returning from a 3 1/2-month freshening here. The outside post appear to be a major drawback.
VH: #10 Strobe (7-2) is likely to go off considerably shorter than his morning line price in the Count Fleet Sprint H. (G3) at Oaklawn Park, and I wouldn't be surprised in the least if he's the actual post-time favorite. Despite the fact he's drawn favorably outside the other speed, there is a ton of it in this race. He's shown loads of promise so far in his interrupted career, but the pace scenario and the possibility of an off track (which resulted in his only loss) gives me cause for pause at a short price.
What else is worth noting?
JS: Frankie Dettori has five mounts at Keeneland Saturday, including #1 Train to Artemus (8-1) in the Giant’s Causeway S. The five-year-old has recorded four wins and a couple placings from her last six starts and shown an affinity for inside posts, winning a stakes by open lengths from the rail two starts back. Train to Artemus is eligible to carry her progressing form forward in this spot.
VH: Another horse that offers some appeal at a price early on the Keeneland card is #6 Easy Time (6-1) in the third race. Although the G3 winner is winless in eight previous starts on the turf, he ran pretty well in his only previous try on this course back in October, in which he was coming off a layoff and making his first start for Cherie DeVaux. He encountered an awful lot of trouble in his most recent start on Jan. 1 at Gulfstream, and that race looks a toss-out for me. Brian Hernandez Jr., who rode up to his runner-up finish here two back, returns to the saddle.