The Jury: Bets and fades for June 3

June 2nd, 2023

Stephen Foster Preview Day at Churchill Downs highlights the Saturday stakes action in the U.S., and James Scully, Vance Hanson, and Ashley Anderson have scoured that card and others for this week's Jury.

What is your best bet?

James Scully: Call Me Fast (6-1) in the Blame (G3) at Churchill Downs. After leading all the way in a pair of allowances at Oaklawn Park, Call Me Fast missed the break in his first two stakes appearances, the Essex H. (G3) and Ben Ali (G3). The four-year-old admirably overcame the tough start in the Ben Ali last out, waiting for room on the far turn before splitting rivals in upper stretch, and finished well for second. Call Me Fast has continued to train forwardly in the six-week interim, recording a pair of swift drills under the Twin Spires, and he’s eligible to break better in the Blame. I will look for a strong showing from the progressing gelding.

Vance Hanson: #6 Royal Patronage (3-1) isn't always the most consistent at putting forth his best effort, but there's no doubting he owns the best career running lines in the Arlington (G3) field at Churchill Downs. Winner of the Royal Lodge (G2) at two over future classic winner Coroebus and a solid second in the Dante (G2) to eventual Epsom Derby (G1) winner Desert Crown last season, Royal Patronage was over the top by the time he reached these shores last summer. Given more time to adapt and grow, the four-year-old was far more effective in his season debut, taking a Keeneland allowance narrowly on April 20. That's an effort he can build on as he reenters the stakes ranks against a group that's fairly well exposed.

Ashley Anderson: #4 Idiomatic (5-1) will make her third career start on dirt in the 1 1/16-mile Shawnee (G3) at Churchill on Saturday. The Curlin four-year-old was last seen finishing second to Pass the Champagne in the one-mile Ruffian (G2) at Belmont and will return to Churchill, where she finished third last May in her lone start at the track. The filly raced on Turfway’s all-weather in her next four starts, scoring three straight victories from January to March, including a win in the 1 1/16-mile Latonia S. She’ll get a rider switch today to hot jockey Florent Geroux, a 23% winner this meet who strikes at a 24% rate with routes. He’s also posted a 14-4-4-0 record the last seven days when teaming up with trainer Brad Cox, a 30% winner this meet and a 26% winner in graded stakes. At 5-1 on the morning line, I’ll take a shot with the Juddmonte homebred, who posted a bullet five-furlong workout at Churchill on May 27.

Who is the horse to fade?

JS: #7 Shadow Dragon (2-1) in the eighth race at Belmont Park. His lone win came at six furlongs, a slow maiden special weight affair last fall in which the pace collapsed, and the three-year-old colt’s runner-up finish behind a moderate pace in the Holy Bull (G3) appears to be an outlier. Shadow Dragon exits a pair of dull performances, and he’s likely to be overbet in this spot against in-form rivals. 

VH: Two weeks is a rather quick turnaround for #1 Rattle N Roll (2-1) in the Blame (G3) at Churchill Downs, especially after such a hard-fought win against an inferior rival in the May 19 Pimlico Special (G3). He's still the horse to beat in this nine-furlong test, but the Stephen Foster (G1) on July 1 is undoubtedly the primary goal this summer, so this might be a good one in which to stand against him at a short price.

AA: #1 The Alys Look (5-2) opened as the morning line favorite in the Summertime Oaks (G2) at Santa Anita after finishing third as a 30-1 longshot in the 1 1/8-mile Kentucky Oaks (G1). The Connect filly pursued from midpack along the inside, offered a mile grind in upper stretch, and was outkicked by an outer foe, keeping on for show in the Grade 1 event. She'll cut back to 8 1/2 furlongs here and has a win close to today's distance in the one-mile and 70-yard Silverbulletday at Fair Grounds. However, The Alys Look is making her first start for new trainer Chris Davis, who has just one win in his last 15 graded stakes tries. The three-year-old filly will also pick up jockey Mike Smith, who's just a 5% winner in his last 19 route races and an 11% winner this meet.

What else is worth noting?

JS: #5 Desert Duke (5-1) and #2 Travel Column (15-1) won’t be among the top betting choices in the Audubon S. and Shawnee (G3), respectively, but both runners have a chance to be the lone speed here. Desert Duke dominated maiden special weight and entry-level allowance races at Fair Grounds and Churchill Downs on the lead before making his stakes debut in a deep American Turf (G2), and while he couldn’t make the front last time, the Chris Hartman trainee faces a potentially favorable pace scenario Saturday. Travel Column owns a 4-2-1-1 record at 1 1/16 miles, including a pair of Grade 2 wins, and she stretches back out in distance after faltering on the front end in back-to-back sprints. The five-year-old mare should look to sprint clear early with Christian Torres.

VH: The Audubon S. at Churchill Downs lacks depth in numbers, not surprising given the Penn Mile (G2), Pennine Ridge (G2), and Jersey Derby are also being held for three-year-old turf performers this weekend. However, I'm very interested in seeing how #6 Sharar (9-5) performs in his U.S. debut for Todd Pletcher. Winless in Dubai over the winter until he stepped foot on the grass, Sharar subsequently won two straight. The quality of those fields was a bit suspect compared to what he faces here, but keep in mind he is a Gun Runner half-brother to the decorated champion turf mare Lady Eli. His ceiling remains rather high.

AA: In Race 6, the Aristides, at Churchill, #4 Bango (2-1) will chase a record-tying 11th victory at Churchill Downs when he faces four rivals in the six-furlong stakes. The Congrats six-year-old comes off a five-length victory in the St. Matthews Overnight S. in which he posted a 101 Brisnet figure, the highest last race speed figure among the field. Trainer Greg Foley is winning at a 19% clip this meet, and Bango will pick up hot jockey John Velazquez (25% winner this meet). While the field is small, Bango will face some steep competition in #3 Gunite (9-5), winner of the King Cotton three back, and #1 Sibelius (5-2), who beat Gunite last out in the Golden Shaheen (G1). Should Bango get the best of his rivals Saturday, he'll not only tie Ready's Rocket for most victories at Churchill, but he'll collect his third consecutive win in the Aristides.