The Jury: Bets and fades for Sept. 9

September 8th, 2023

Stakes-laden cards at Kentucky Downs and Colonial Downs, the end of the Del Mar summer meet, and the Irish Champions Festival highlight a busy weekend in racing as the Jury reconvenes this week.

What is your best bet?

James Scully: #11 Therapist (7-2) in the Kentucky Turf Cup (G2) at Kentucky Downs. After racing exclusively at sprint or middle distances over his first six seasons, the eight-year-old broke a lengthy stakes-losing streak when stretching out to 1 1/2 miles in the Pan American (G2) in early April. The reformed claimer has flourished since then for Mike Maker, recording a convincing win in the United Nations (G1) last out, and the up-and-coming turf marathoner will look to carry his momentum forward at Kentucky Downs.

Vance Hanson: #2 Randazzo (10-1) looks like a horse to keep an eye in the $150,000 Kitten's Joy S. at Colonial Downs. The Godolphin homebred overcame a slow start and a pedestrian pace ahead of him to win at first asking last month going a mile at Delaware Park, but his prospects for handling turf Saturday might be even better. He is an Into Mischief (12% turf debut sire) half-brother to Carnival Colors, who won the Virginia Oaks over this course. Randazzo's dam is a Grade 1-placed half-sister to the Hall of Fame mare Royal Delta.

Ashley Anderson: #10 Dream Shake (8-1) in the six-furlong Turf Sprint (G2) at Kentucky Downs. The five-year-old Twirling Candy gelding is for 2-for-3 since transferring to the barn of Michael Stidham, with his lone loss coming in a dirt sprint at Belmont. Last out, in his second career turf start, he won by a length in the seven-furlong Connaught Cup (G2) at Woodbine and has posted a pair of sharp workouts since. He'll pick up the services of Tyler Gaffalione, who hopped off #5 Anaconda (8-1) to ride Dream Shake and is a 16% winner on turf. He was also the leading rider at Kentucky Downs last meet. I'll take a chance with the price on Dream Shake but also include #1 One Timer (9-2) in horizontal wagers.

Who is the horse to fade?

JS: #7 King’s Secret (3-1) enters the seventh race at Kentucky Downs Saturday off a negative key race, as horses from her last start at Saratoga are winless from eight starts. King’s Secret nosed out Best Performer for third in the maiden special weight event, and Best Performer came back to finish off the board as the favorite in a maiden special weight race at Kentucky Downs last Sunday. I will fade short-priced runners from the July 15 maiden special weight at Saratoga.

VH: About the only thing consistent about the British sprint division this season has been #11 Shaquille (3-5), who has overcome two dreadful starts to stylishly capture the Commonwealth Cup (G1) at Royal Ascot and the July Cup (G1) at Newmarket this summer. He's heavily favored to capture the Sprint Cup (G1) at Haydock on Saturday, but will his slow-starting tendencies eventually catch up to him? Granted, he really is good and there's no obvious alternative in the loaded field of 17, but holding a collective breath and hoping he can deliver another stunning display with his back against the wall doesn't sound like an intriguing position at even-money (his overseas price as of Friday morning) or less.

AA: #3 White Frost (9-5) in the one-mile Ladies Turf (G3) at Kentucky Downs. The Candy Ride mare has finished failed to reach the winner's circle in her last five starts, including her last two at today's distance, from which she finished in second by more than two lengths both times. She'll pick up a new rider in Joel Rosario, who's 1-for-14 paired with trainer Bill Mott over the last two months. I'll fade the dark bay at the 9-5 price and back the improving  #7 New Year’s Eve (5-2), who won the Ladies’ Turf Mile on Kentucky Downs Preview Day and is 2-for-4 when racing a mile.

What else is worth noting?

JS: #4 Salute the Stars (4-1) in the Virginia Derby (G3) at Colonial Downs. The 1 1/8-mile turf event attracted a top three-year-old turf prospect from the Chad Brown barn, unbeaten Grade 1 winner Program Trading, but I’ll give the edge to Salute the Stars in his turf return. The Candy Ride colt looked promising recording a convincing turf maiden win in his juvenile finale, and he opened his three-year-old season with a fine score in an off-the-turf allowance. Brad Cox stuck with dirt for a couple of starts, and Salute the Stars showed class running down Kingsbarns to win the Pegasus S. two back, but turf is his best surface. I’ll look for a strong showing.

VH: There doesn't appear to be a whole lot separating the top four or five players in the John C. Mabee (G2) at Del Mar, and I'll be leaning on #3 Oakhurst (4-1) to provide a mild surprise. The Phil D'Amato trainee ran a cracker in a July 23 allowance, her first start in well over five months, overcoming an 11-length deficit to nip Eddies New Dream at the wire. That rival came back to notch her fourth career stakes in the Solona Beach S. Although her 3-for-11 record doesn't stand out on the surface, the Mabee marks only her fourth outing for D'Amato and she seemingly has the potential to get even better.

AA: Three-year-old filly #6 Playlist (10-1) will compete against colts in the 6 1/2-furlong Franklin-Simpson (G2) on Saturday. The Wesley Ward runner has won her last three when racing between 5 1/2 and six furlongs, and flashed a career-best 98 Brisnet Speed figure two back, as well as a 95 BRIS figure last out, the highest last race speed rating among the field. Ward ranked second in victories at Kentucky Downs last meet, and he's a 24% winner with horses that won their last race. The Uncle Mo daughter is an intriguing longshot, while #7 Sweet Cherry Pie (5-1) could also play spoiler to morning line favorite #8 Mo Stash (4-1) in the Twirling Candy colt's first career try on turf.