The Jury: Expert Picks, Bets and Fades for Nov. 11 [Video]
Racing analysts Ashley Anderson, James Scully, and Darin Zoccali examine races at Churchill Downs, Laurel Park, and Aqueduct this weekend! Ashley and James offer their insights in the written portion below. Be sure to check out Darin's opinions in our on-camera portion.
Best Bet for Weekend Racing
#1 Cap Classique (3-1) in the Smart Halo S. at Laurel Park on Saturday. I expect a lot of the money to come in on Brad Cox runner #9 Deboisblanc (9-5) after her 13-length romp in a six-furlong allowance at Horseshoe Indianapolis, but the Race Rating came back a bit light, and I'll look to back unbeaten Vino Rosso filly Cap Classique instead. The Brittany Russell pupil won on debut when racing on Colonial's turf, and then came back to win by seven lengths when trying dirt the first time in an allowance optional claimer at Laurel. The late presser type beat next-out winner Roanan Goddess, who re-opposes here today, and she'll retain the services of Jevian Toledo, a 17% winner this meet who's winning at a 29% clip paired with Russell over the last two months.
#11 Siege of Boston (9-2) gets back to his preferred 1 1/8-mile distance in the River City (G3) at Churchill Downs. A convincing allowance winner at distance three back, this versatile sort recorded a commendable third against a solid field in his stakes debut next out, the 1 1/4-mile Kentucky Downs Prevue Turf Cup. He caught a speed-favoring Kentucky Downs turf and couldn’t catch the runaway pacesetter in a lucrative one-mile handicap last out but closed well for second, and Siege of Boston should appreciate the stretch back out to nine furlongs. He can earn an initial stakes triumph for Jimmy Toner.
#9 Cap Classique graduates on debut in R3 at Colonial Downs for trainer @BTRracingstable with Jevian Toledo in the irons! 🎓— TwinSpires Racing 🏇 (@TwinSpires) August 17, 2023
This 2-year-old filly is by freshman sire Vino Rosso, standing @spendthriftfarm. 🍷
🎥 #TwinSpiresReplay pic.twitter.com/BoqzOW3oR6
Top Fade for Weekend Racing
#4 Rockemperor (4-1) in the River City S. (G3) at Churchill. The seven-year-old has been inconsistent his entire career, and he's 0-for-4 this season with just one in-the-money finish, which was a half-length second in the Singspiel S. at Woodbine last out. The Chad Brown runner has not won since the Bowling Green (G2) in July of 2022, and he's 1-for-7 lifetime when racing 1 1/8 miles. I see a couple of runners capable of beating the lukewarm favorite, including #1 Cellist (5-1), and longshot #9 Stitched (15-1), winner of the Wise Dan (G2) two back, is intriguing for Greg Foley.
#7 Magic Tap (7-5) in ninth race at Churchill Downs Saturday. Faltered on front end when trying 1 1/8-mile distance at Ellis this summer and Magic Tap benefitted when the odds-on favorite stumbled out of the starting gate and probably lost all chance in a Saratoga allowance win two starts later, finishing slowly. He was in position to grab a minor award before weakening in stretch of Pennsylvania Derby (G1) last out, and I question whether the gray colt prefers less ground. Magic Tap won’t get an easy lead with Tiwanaku drawn at the rail, and I will fade him at short odds.
What Else Is Worth Noting
The connections of #5 Wicked Halo (6-5) opted not to race the Gun Runner four-year-old in the Breeders' Cup last weekend but have instead entered her in the six-furlong Dream Supreme S., the fourth race at Churchill on Saturday. The Steve Asmussen trainee just barely missed in three graded stakes tries this season, finishing a length second in the Derby City Distaff (G1) in May before she was beaten a neck second to Goodnight Olive in the Bed O' Roses at Belmont. Last out, in the Thoroughbred Club of America (G2), she was a nose second to Yuugiri, who came back to finish second to Goodnight Olive in the Breeders' Cup Filly & Mare Sprint (G1) last weekend. With the drop-down in class, Wicked Halo should have no trouble beating her five rivals in the Dream Supreme and should close out her season with a third non-graded stakes tally.
Call it a bad case of seconditis or perhaps he’s camera-shy. One thing’s for certain, #8 Soldier Rising loves to finish second in long-distance turf stakes in New York. The poster child for “close but no cigar” will seek a breakthrough win in Saturday’s $300,000 Red Smith (G2), and the litany of stakes placing for the five-year-old gelding is remarkable. Soldier Rising has finished second in the three premiere long-distance turf events in New York – the Manhattan (G1), Sword Dancer (G1), and Joe Hirsch Turf Classic (G1) – and he’s also played the bridesmaid role in the Man o’ War (G1), Saratoga Derby (G1) and Jockey Club Derby. Soldier Rising has five starts this year, finishing second four times. And as it turns out, the one time he wasn’t second in 2023, the Bowling Green (G2), Soldier Rising wasn’t a betting interest due to a clerical error.