The Jury: Expert Picks, Bets and Fades for Oct. 21-22 [Video]
Racing analysts Ashley Anderson, James Scully, and Darin Zoccali discuss Keeneland! Ashley and James provide their thoughts in the written portion below. Be sure to check out Darin's opinions in our on-camera portion. We have promo codes exclusively for our Jury viewers later in the show, as well!
Best Bet for Weekend Racing
#7 Sinfiltre (9-2) for Todd Pletcher in Race 8 at Keeneland, a 1 1/16-mile allowance on turf for fillies and mares. The Uncle Mo filly will drop in class after coming home a 1 1/2-length third in the 1 5/16-mile Ladies Marathon (G3) at Kentucky Downs. Sinfiltre can rebound with the cutback in distance and will regain rider Flavien Prat, who won with the four-year-old three back at today's distance in an allowance optional claimer at Ellis Park. Prat is a 22% winner this meet, and Pletcher is a 25% winner at Keeneland.
I'll also include #10 Walkathon (8-1) in horizontal wagers. The Twirling Candy filly broke her maiden at 1 1/16 miles in April 2022 at Keeneland, then earned a second consecutive win at the same distance before triumphing in the 1 1/18-mile Regret (G3). Walkathon went on a 14-month layoff afterward and returned in August to run a 6 1/2-furlong allowance optional claimer at Kentucky Downs, where she finished far back in seventh. The recent form is a concern, but the stretch-out to a distance from which she's 2-for-2 has me intrigued. Trainer Ian Wilkes is also 4-for-14 this meet, and Walkathon has looked sharp in recent workouts.
#2 Single Dot Yaht (8-1) in Race 7 at Keeneland Saturday. The three-year-old colt will make his second start back from a freshening after finishing third to a buzzsaw at Churchill Downs, Mo Fight, who earned a 98 Brisnet Speed rating and looks stakes-bound for Norm Casse off a romping win. I’ll look to bet runner-up Spielman back off that race, and Single Dot Yaht appears poised to graduate this weekend. After one juvenile appearance last September, Single Dot Yaht wasn’t seen again until June, catching a sloppy track and missing the break before rallying for fourth. He came back a month later with an improved showing, finishing third, about a length back of runner-up Smile Mon, who won his next start by 8-plus lengths at odds-on, and I expect further progression from Single Dot Yaht off his last performance.
Top Fade for Weekend Racing
In Saturday's finale at Keeneland, a 5 1/2-furlong allowance on turf, I'll take a stand against #11 Fauci (2-1), a Malibu Moon gelding who has failed to reach the winner's circle in his last 12 starts. The five-year-old last won in June 2021 at Monmouth Park, but he was beaten just a neck and a half-length in his last two. While he just missed in his only two starts this season, he also drew the far outside here, and outside posts are winning at a low rate in 5 1/2 furlong turf sprints at Keeneland. Instead, I'll back #5 Axthelm (7-2), a Saffie Joseph runner who won two back at five furlongs and will pick up high-percentage jockey Luis Saez.
#8 Viareggio (2-1) in Race 4 at Keeneland Saturday. A Group 3 winner in Ireland last year, Viareggio managed to grind out a win in her U.S. debut, getting the perfect trip to win a three-horse photo at Keeneland, but she’s made no impact in three starts since. Her last performance, a dull fifth as the favorite versus a soft field in a restricted stakes at Kentucky Downs, offered no encouragement for a turnaround, and I will fade Viareggio at short odds.
What Else Is Worth Noting
Three 2023 Kentucky Derby runners — Verifying, Confidence Game, and Raise Cain — will meet in the seven-furlong Perryville S., Race 6 at Keeneland on Saturday. #1 Verifying (1-1) is the one to beat, and the best of the Derby also-rans, but two unbeaten three-year-olds will look to top the runner-up of August's H. Allen Jerkens (G1). #5 Dr. Venkman (7-2) is 2-for-2 lifetime when racing 6 1/2 and seven furlongs, and the Ghostzapper gelding comes off a 5 1/2-length victory in an allowance optional claimer in which he posted a 102 Brisnet Speed figure. Trainer Mark Glatt is a 20% winner in non-graded stakes and strikes at a 19% rate with horses coming off a layoff of 46 to 90 days, and John Velazquez will pick up the mount.
The other unbeaten, #3 Post Time (15-1), is a Frosted colt who is 4-for-4 racing between 5 1/2 and seven furlongs. Trainer Brittany Russell is also a 21% winner second off the layoff, and Sheldon Russell (25% winner in sprints) will retain the mount. The closer earned a 104 Late Pace rating last out at six furlongs and can hit the board here, but I like Dr. Venkman to pull off the slight upset of Verifying.
Three of the last five winners of the Raven Run (G2) at Keeneland have come right back to contest the Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Sprint (G1) two weeks later, including 2018 Filly & Mare Sprint winner Shamrock Rose and last year’s third-place finisher Wicked Halo. The logistics of traveling to Santa Anita make it unlikely that any of the runners in Saturday’s seven-furlong test for three-year-old fillies will have the Filly & Mare Sprint on their agenda (three of the last five Breeders’ Cups have been held in Kentucky), but it should still be an intriguing race. I’m going with #4 Vahva (3-1), who enters on the upswing for Cherie DeVaux and should receive the right set-up for her late kick.