The Jury: Bets and fades for Aug. 20

August 19th, 2022

Alabama Day at Saratoga, the Del Mar Oaks (G1), Queen's Plate at Woodbine, and juveniles at Monmouth Park are all in the sights of our TwinSpires Jury. James Scully, Kellie Reilly, and Ashley Anderson offer thoughts on another action-packed weekend of racing.

What is your best bet?

James Scully: #1 Change of Control (7-2) has never been better and takes her course with her, recording six of her nine turf wins at different venues, and the six-year-old appears well-spotted in Saturday’s Smart N Fancy S. (race 9) at Saratoga. Two back in the Jaipur (G1) against males, she finished a good fourth to Casa Creed at a less-than-favorable six-furlong distance, and the Michelle Lovell-trained mare cuts back to Saturday's 5 1/2-furlong trip (seven career wins) when recording a sharp tune-up in the Andy Guest S. at Colonial Downs last out. Change of Control fits well at this level, and she’ll carry her strong form forward.

Kellie Reilly: #10 Adora (10-1) has appeal, especially at a price, in Saturday’s Catch a Glimpse S. at Woodbine. After her impressive debut win on the Tapeta, trainer Mark Casse regarded her highly enough to try the Schuylerville (G3) at Saratoga, even though she wasn’t training as sharply on dirt. That didn’t work out, as she never recovered from a bumpy start and wound up trailing home. The switch to turf here should suit her much better. A $450,000 daughter of top sire Into Mischief, Adora is out of multiple Grade 3 heroine Southern Ring, herself a two-time winner over the Woodbine turf. Southern Ring is by the versatile influence Speightstown, from one of Sam-Son Farm’s productive families. Thus Adora could be the latest advertisement for the Into Mischief-Speightstown cross, responsible for Grade 1 winners Mia Mischief and Mischevious Alex as well as high-class turf sprinter Man of Promise.

Ashley Anderson: While Change of Control is a formidable challenger in the Smart N Fancy, I'm taking a chance on #7 Illegal Smile (8-1), who will cut back to 5 1/2 furlongs after being outkicked at the finish in the Intercontinental (G3) at Belmont last out. The Wesley Ward trainee is 7 2-3-0 at today's distance and won back to back in her last two tries at 5 1/2 furlongs. The four-year-old will return from a two-month layoff and switches to rider Jose Ortiz, an 18% winner on turf.

Who is the horse to fade?

JS: #3 Peaceful Waters and #4 Favorite Outlaw, 9-5 and 7-5 in an entry-level allowance (race 3) at Saratoga Saturday, were no threat finishing second and third at the same level last out, and they’ve had little to offer in the stretch of recent starts. I don’t expect a favorable trip for either at the 1 1/8-mile distance, and I’ll fade the short-priced runners in multi-race wagers.

KR: It might be reckless to quibble with #11 Spendarella (8-5), who brings formidable credentials into Saturday’s Del Mar Oaks (G1). Unbeaten stateside and most recently second in Royal Ascot’s Coronation S. (G1), she succumbed only to standout miler Inspiral, who recently toppled older males in the Prix Jacques le Marois (G1). And trainer Graham Motion’s past Royal Ascot alumnae have run well upon their return. Yet the scenario at Del Mar is trickier than her morning-line odds imply: she’s drawn wide, with a forward running style, in a race with plenty of speed, stepping up to 1 1/8 miles for the first time, on a course favorable to closers at this distance, against a few other smart rivals. With the compounding of possible vulnerabilities, I’m tempted to try to beat Spendarella at Del Mar.

AA: Like Kellie, I'm not bullish on #11 Spendarella (8-5) in the Del Mar Oaks in her first try at nine furlongs. The three-year-old can be beaten by #5 Cairo Memories (3-1), who weakened late in the 1 1/4-mile Belmont Oaks (G1) last out and will cut back to 1 1/8 miles, a distance from which she is 2-for-2 while running on Santa Anita's lawn. I'm also intrigued by Irish-bred #2 Bellabel (5-1), who has won three straight at a mile, including last out in the San Clemente S. (G2) at Del Mar, where she won by two lengths over a handful of today's race rivals. Phil D'Amato is an 18% winner in graded stakes and is 6-for-17 paired up with Umberto Rispoli the last two months.

What else is worth noting?

JS: Eleven are set for Sunday’s Queen’s Plate at Woodbine, the first leg of the Canadian Triple Crown, and I like #1 Hall of Dreams following an encouraging runner-up effort in his stakes debut, the July 24 Plate Trial S. A late-maturing son of Lemon Drop Kid, Hall of Dreams raced in spots while finishing second thrice and third once from his first five starts, but he put it together when stretching out to nine furlongs in late June, determinedly overhauling a loose-on-the-lead pacesetter to win going away. He continued to display a fine turn of foot last time, appearing to be in the midst of a winning rally in the 1 1/8-mile Plate Trial when knocked off stride turning for home. Hall of Dreams wound up a clear second after regaining his momentum, and the distance-loving colt’s best races are in front of him. Listed at 12-1 for two-time Queen’s Plate winner Mark Casse, Hall of Dreams projects to receive a favorable ground-saving trip with two-time Queen’s Plate winner Patrick Husbands, and the progressing late runner is eligible to make a serious impact in the final furlongs. 

KR: While Woodbine’s Queen’s Plate card is the center of attention on Sunday, keep an eye on a potentially deep renewal of Monmouth Park's Sorority S. for two-year-old fillies. Unbeaten Astoria S. romper Devious Dame is another headliner for freshman sire Girvin, whose son Damon’s Mound starred in last weekend’s Saratoga Special (G2). Vedareo, a Daredevil half-sister to 2020 champion juvenile filly Vequist, looks to bounce back from a troubled fifth in the Schuylerville. Alma Rosa, by prolific freshman sire Sharp Azteca, was best of the rest behind smashing Munnys Gold before crushing a maiden by 10 lengths. Well-bred maiden winners Born Dapper and Outofnothingatall add to the intrigue in Sunday’s one-mile affair.

AA: Top three-year-old filly #4 Nest (1-2) is a heavy favorite, and rightfully so, in the Alabama S. (G1), the second to last race on Saratoga's Saturday card. The Curlin daughter romped to a 12-length win in the Coaching Club American Oaks (G1), beating the likes of Kentucky Oaks hero #7 Secret Oath (4-1) and Gazelle (G3) winner #5 Nostalgic (12-1), who re-oppose here. But while I'm confident Nest will handle the 1 1/4-mile Alabama, I'm intrigued to see how #4 Gerrymander (7-2) fares against her competition. The Chad Brown pupil was much the best in the Mother Goose (G2) at Belmont last out and will re-oppose Nest for the first time since beating her three back in the Tempted S. at Belmont in November. I see the Into Mischief three-year-old proving herself the best of the rest in her second Grade 1 event.