The Jury: Expert Picks, Bets and Fades for Dec. 9 [Video]

December 7th, 2023

Racing analysts Ashley Anderson, James Scully, and Darin Zoccali discuss a number of stakes at Fair Grounds, Oaklawn Park, Turfway Park, and more. Ashley and James offer their thoughts in the written portion below. Be sure to check out Darin's opinions in our on-camera portion as well!

Best Bet for Weekend Racing

Ashley Anderson:

#7 Undercover Girl (4-1) in the six-furlong Louisiana Champions Day Lassie S., Race 11 at Fair Grounds on Saturday. The Nyquist two-year-old won on debut by 2 3/4 lengths while beating 10 rivals in a 5 1/2-furlong maiden special weight at Fair Grounds on Nov. 18. The gray filly's 80 Brisnet Speed figure was just a few points shy of the last-out figure of lukewarm morning line favorite #11 Clearly a Test (7-2), and Undercover Girl can take another step forward here. Trainer Brad Cox is an 18% winner to start the Fair Grounds meet, and he's a 27% winner with horses coming off a maiden victory. High-percentage jockey Corey Lanerie (22% winner this meet) will retain the mount, and Undercover Girl looked sharp in her most recent workout on Dec. 3.

James Scully:

#6 Coastal Charm (9-2) in the Mistletoe S. at Oaklawn Park Saturday. The four-year-old filly ran well in Hot Springs off a freshening last winter, recording a pair of allowance wins and a close fourth to Grade 3 winner Shotgun Hottie, and Coastal Charm shows a sharp half-mile drill over her favorite oval in preparation for her Oaklawn return. She turned a sharp performance two back, winning the Iowa Distaff S. by open lengths, and I expect to see Coastal Charm prove best on the front end in the Mistletoe.

Top Fade for Weekend Racing


I like James' pick of Coastal Charm and am also intrigued by Brittany Russell's #5 Saddle Up Jessie (6-1)  in the Mistloe S., and I think both are more than capable of upsetting morning line favorite #10 Ice Orchid (7-2). The Super Saver filly was beaten by a head last out when racing 1 1/16 miles in an allowance optional claimer and won two back at the distance at Churchill, but the four-year-old is cutting back to a mile, where she is 0-for-4 lifetime. The John Ortiz pupil has just one win from seven tries at Oaklawn, as well, and that lone victory came in February 2022, when she broke her maiden at 1 1/16 miles.

Ice Orchid's most recent try at a mile resulted in a fourth in the Groupie Doll, and she was beaten by Coastal Charm four back in the Iowa Distaff, plus 4-1 choice Lovely Ride outfinished her twice at this track. I see Ice Orchid as a vulnerable favorite against a contentious field of 11.


#11 Up On the Edge (3-1) in the third race at Turfway Park Saturday. The two-year-old filly has been well-regarded in every start, favored three times including her debut, but she’s lacked a finishing kick in five outings, losing ground in the stretch of the last four. And she’s been pegged as the morning line favorite against a competitive group on Saturday. Up On the Edge may break through eventually, but I want to see more before backing at short odds.

What Else Is Worth Noting


The other non-graded stakes at Oaklawn on Saturday, the six-furlong Ring the Bell S., features a competitive field of nine, including Grade 3 Whitmore winner #6 Tejano Twist (8-5), his stablemate #5 Necker Island (8-1), and graded stakes-placed Caddo River. But I'm most interested in the lone three-year-old of the field, #7 Ryvit (2-1), who bounced back off a trio of fifth-place finishes to win the Steel Valley Sprint S. at Mahoning Valley on Nov. 20. The Steve Asmussen trainee clocked a 101 Brisnet Speed figure in the victory, good for the highest last race speed figure among the field, and he's returning to a track where he's 3-for-4 lifetime. Ryvit is also 5-for-7 from six furlongs, and he'll retain rider Keith Asmussen, who is unbeaten from four starts with the colt. I like his chances in his first try against older horses.


#8 Noted (9-5) switches back to turf in Saturday’s $100,000 Pulpit S. at Gulfstream Park. A turf maiden scorer, Noted switched to dirt to win the Sapling S. at Monmouth Park, but he appeared headed to the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf (G1) following a fine nose second in the grassy Bourbon (G2) at Keeneland to Can Group, who came flying late to be a good fourth in the Juvenile Turf following a troubled trip. Noted was cross-entered to the Juvenile (G1) and Juvenile Turf, and I thought it would be the latter considering connections already had Fierceness lining up for the Juvenile and trainer Todd Pletcher also had Locked as a major win contender. But that didn’t happen. Those stablemates finished first and third, respectively, in the Juvenile, and Noted bypassed the opportunity to be competitive by finishing last of nine on dirt, beaten 33 lengths in the Juvenile. Irad Ortiz Jr. had served as the regular rider on Fierceness and Noted, and the four-time Eclipse Award winner would have seemingly retained the mount on the former if Noted had opted for the Juvenile Turf. Instead, Ortiz stuck with Noted in the Juvenile and Fierceness picked up the services of three-time Kentucky Derby winner John Velazquez.