The Jury: Expert Picks, Bets and Fades for May 4 [Video]

May 1st, 2024

Racing analysts Ashley Anderson, James Scully, Darin Zoccali, and guest Nick Tammaro join forces to handicap Saturday's Kentucky Derby (G1) card at Churchill Downs. Ashley and James provide their thoughts in the written portion below. Be sure to check out Darin and Nick's opinions in our on-camera portion as well!

Best Bet for Weekend Racing

James Scully:

#3 Bo Cruz (10-1) in Saturday’s 10th race, the $1 million Churchill Downs (G1). A sharp allowance scorer on the Kentucky Derby (G1) undercard last year, Bo Cruz went to the sidelines by mid-July and returned in February with a close third going two turns at Fair Grounds. Al Stall Jr. cut the four-year-old colt back to seven furlongs in the Commonwealth (G3) at Keeneland on April 6, and Bo Cruz responded with a sharp frontrunning victory, drawing off to score by 2 1/2 lengths and registering a career-best 99 Brisnet Speed rating. That performance suggests better things are to come from the middle-distance specialist. Bo Cruz has shown an affinity for Churchill Downs and this won’t be the strongest edition of the race. I expect him to keep rolling.

Ashley Anderson:

#7 Who Dey (10-1) in the Pat Day Mile (G2), Race 8 on Saturday. The Liam's Map three-year-old was unbeaten in his first four starts, including two stakes victories, and he won two back racing a mile in his lone start at Churchill Downs. Last out, he cut back to seven furlongs in the Lafayette S. at Keeneland and closed late to finish second. He'll stretch back out to a mile today, and his trainer, Tom Drury, is a 24% winner going from a sprint to a route and second off a layoff. Brian Hernandez (22% winner with routes) will pick up the mount, and Who Dey has looked sharp in two recent works at Churchill. He's also 2-for-2 on off tracks and with rain in the forecast, he's likely to get softer ground. I'll take a shot with him at the price.

Top Fade for Weekend Racing


#9 Hard to Justify (2-1) in Friday’s 10th race, the $600,000 Edgewood (G2). The race favors those with recency, fillies from the previous fall need a comebacker to perform their best in this spot, with Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf (G1) winners Newspaperofrecord and Aunt Pearl faltering at 1-5 odds when returning in the Edgewood. Hard to Justify didn’t appear to upset the strongest field at Santa Anita last fall, scoring narrowly at 9-1, and I will fade her off the 182-day layoff Friday.


#6 Zozos (3-1) in the Churchill Downs S. (G1), R10 on Saturday. The Munnings five-year-old is returning off a six-month layoff for Brad Cox and will cut back to seven furlongs after racing at a route distance in 11 of his last 12 starts. His only other start at a sprint was on debut, when he broke his maiden in a six-furlong maiden special weight at Fair Grounds. Zozos does have two victories from three starts at Churchill, but his most recent win at the track was a gate-to-wire triumph in the one-mile Ack Ack (G3), where he got away with setting a modest early pace. He should be pushed by more early speed today, including #11 Hoist the Gold (7-2) on the far outside and #2 Bo Cruz (10-1), who I will back at a price coming off his win in the seven-furlong Commonwealth (G3).

Kentucky Oaks/Kentucky Derby picks


#13 Just F Y I (9-2) missed a planned start in early March and made her three-year-old debut in the Ashland (G1) at Keeneland after a five-month layoff, overcoming a wide trip off the far turn to finish second in a deep field. She’s trained forwardly in the interim at Churchill Downs, recording a couple of superb drills, and the well-built daughter of Justify is poised to move forward off the comebacker. Just F Y I owns good tactical speed, which should enable her to establish favorable positioning just off the early leaders, and she rates top billing in the 150th Kentucky Oaks.

#2 Sierra Leone (3-1) added blinkers and progressed nicely in a pair of starts this year for Chad Brown, getting up late to win the Risen Star (G2) and recording a convincing win against the track bias in the Blue Grass (G1). Those were the deepest prep races this year and Sierra Leone still has more to offer in my estimation. He’ll launch his bid on the far turn of the 150th Kentucky Derby, and Sierra Leone is my pick to wear the roses.


Like James, I am going #13 Just F Y I (9-2) off her second in the Ashland (G1), which marked her first loss in four career starts. Her bullet five-furlong workout at Churchill on April 22 gives me even more confidence in the Justify filly, and she's got a win over a sloppy track, which she may get Friday. But even on a fast track, I'll back the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies (G1) winner, who has two Grade 1 wins already under her belt.

In the Derby, I'm backing #2 Sierra Leone (3-1) as a deep closer. His only loss was by a nose in his second career start at age two, and he's improved since adding blinkers. He's a deep closer who's been excellent on both fast and off tracks, and I'm confident he'll get the job done for Chad Brown. I'll also play #7 Honor Marie (20-1) as a longshot. He was last seen finishing a length second to Catching Freedom when closing late in the Louisiana Derby (G2), and he has two wins from three starts at Churchill.