The Jury: Expert Picks, Bets and Fades for Jan. 20 [Video]
Racing analysts Ashley Anderson, James Scully, and Darin Zoccali look at the Lecomte Day card at Fair Grounds, plus races at Gulfstream Park. Ashley and James give 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
#7 Plum Tricky (10-1) in the sixth race at Fair Grounds Saturday is my best bet. Well-supported in her career debut last month, Plum Tricky broke slowly over the sloppy track but offered a nice sweeping move on the far turn to reach a threatening position by upper stretch. She leveled out in the final furlongs, finishing three lengths back under the wire, but look for the Speightstown filly to benefit from the experience. Plum Tricky has recorded a pair of swift works in preparation for Dallas Stewart (15% second-time out) and adds Luis Saez. The first foal from an unraced daughter of 2011 Kentucky Oaks (G1) winner Plum Pretty, Plum Tricky looks poised for an improved showing at second asking.
#1 Perfect Shot (4-1) in the Silverbulletday S., the 10th race at Fair Grounds on Saturday. The one-mile and 70-yard event will award points toward the Kentucky Oaks leaderboard, and I expect morning line favorite #6 West Omaha (2-1) to get bet down even farther, but I think the Brad Cox pupil can be beat. She's coming off a two-length second in the Untapable at today's distance, and the closer won't have a ton of speed to run into. I'll try to beat her with Perfect Shot, a Steve Asmussen runner who broke her maiden at third asking. She was fourth on debut to Gin Gin, winner of the Busanda S., when racing seven furlongs in a maiden special weight at Churchill Downs and then finished second when stretching out to a mile. In her third start, she tried 1 1/16 miles and reached the winner's circle.
Longer distances suit the Gun Runner filly, who will pick up Joel Rosario (winning at a 33% clip paired with Asmussen over the last two months). The rail post is also winning at a 21% clip, and Perfect Shot can take a step forward in her three-year-old debut while coming off a nearly two-month layoff.
Top Fade for Weekend Racing
#1 Chasing the Crown (3-1) in the seventh race at Fair Grounds Saturday is my best fade. An entry-level allowance winner at Churchill Downs last spring, the five-year-old horse followed with three consecutive runner-up finishes in conditioned allowances, but he’s been freshened since early September and will make his first start over Fair Grounds’ turf from a tricky rail post. Chasing the Crown will face battle-tested rivals in this spot – #7 Point Proven exits a good third in the Woodchopper S. – and I will play against at short odds.
#9 Beatbox (5-2) in R11, the Colonel E.R. Bradley S. at Fair Grounds. The six-year-old was 1-for-6 last season and came home second in her two most recent starts, both at Fair Grounds. The Pioneerof the Nile son has not won since Feb. 2023 when racing a mile on Turfway's synthetic track, and he's 1-for-5 on turf for his career, with his lone win coming in his third career start in a maiden special weight, 12 starts back.
What Else Is Worth Noting
Point values are elevated for Saturday’s Road to the Kentucky Derby (G1) series qualifier at Fair Grounds, $200,000 Lecomte (G3) at 1 1/16 miles, and #7 Track Phantom (9-5) will look to make it two straight following a 1 1/4-length triumph in the Gun Runner S. four weeks ago. The Steve Asmussen-trained colt has been pegged the morning line favorite, but #2 Nash (5-2) could be favored by post time. Off at 1-2 odds in the Gun Runner, Nash faltered employing stalking tactics that afternoon, but he’s expected to show speed with Florent Geroux. But I wasn’t keen on Nash’s performance last time and won’t spread with both runners in multi-race wagers.
Aside from the Kentucky Derby and Oaks prep races on Lecomte Day, the other main highlight of Fair Grounds' Saturday card is the Louisiana S. (G3) for four-year-olds and up. A pair of sophomores from the Triple Crown trail — Red Route One and Confidence Game — will make their four-year-old debuts, along with morning line favorite #3 Saudi Crown (8-5), who was last seen finishing 10th in the Breeders' Cup Classic (G1). Saudi Crown is the lone pacesetter of the field with the scratch of Kapuna, and the Always Dreaming gray could go gate to wire here, but last year's Alysheba (G2) winner #2 Smile Happy (9-5) could rally late down the stretch. He's also 3-for-3 from the distance of 1 1/16 miles. Neither is a good price, so if you're looking for a potential upsetter, Red Route One has the late kick to pull off a potential upset. He's posted triple-digit Late Pace figures in his last three, and he drew the rail post, which is winning at a 33% clip in 8 1/2 furlong races at Fair Grounds. Trainer Steve Asmussen is also winning at a 14% clip this meet and he strikes at a 19% rate with shippers.