The Jury: Expert Picks, Bets and Fades for Oct. 28-29 [Video]
Racing analysts Ashley Anderson, James Scully, and Darin Zoccali discuss races at Churchill Downs, Keeneland, and Belmont at Aqueduct this weekend! 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
#5 Occult in the Mother Goose (G2), the eighth race at Belmont at the Big A on Saturday. My hope is the public will back #6 Xigera coming off her big win in the Seneca Overnight S. on Sept. 23 at Churchill, where she dominated by more than six lengths and recorded a 101 Brisnet Speed figure. Xigera will move back up in class and attempt to earn her first graded stakes score, and I'll back Chad Brown runner Occult instead. The Into Mischief three-year-old came home third by 1 3/4 lengths last out in the 1 1/16-mile Cotillion (G1), run over a sloppy track at Parx, but two back she romped to a 10-length victory in the Monmouth Oaks (G3) at the same distance over a fast track. Occult will retain the services of Irad Ortiz Jr., a 24% winner at Aqueduct, and Brown is a 26% winner this meet and strikes at a 20% clip in graded stakes.
#7 Cowes (10-1) in the Bowman’s Mill S. at Keeneland Saturday. The two-year-old colt debuted in a restricted turf sprint maiden at Saratoga in late September, rallying to win narrowly, but came up short when making his second outing in the Indian Summer S. on Keeneland’s opening weekend. The switch to the main track makes sense – he’s by a Grade 1 dirt winner, his dam recorded all her wins on the main track, and his lone sibling to win did so on dirt – and a wicked pace scenario appears possible with Glengarry, Normandy Hero, Royal Slipper, and Valentine Candy bringing high speed to the equation. I like Cowes from off the pace.
Top Fade for Weekend Racing
#2 Traegar (3-1) in Race 7 at Keeneland, a seven-furlong allowance optional claimer. The Congrats four-year-old won back-to-back in his last two but comes off a nine-month layoff, and the Mark Glatt pupil has raced exclusively on the California circuit up to this point in his career. I see a couple of runners among the 10-horse field who could pull off the upset, including #1 Fortin Hill (6-1) from the rail post as well as #9 O Besos (10-1), who's dropping in class and cutting back in distance. Two back, O Besos was beaten by a neck in the 6 1/2-furlong Jeff Hall Memorial S. at Ellis and may improve returning to a sprint here. #6 Doctor Oscar (9-2) and #7 Pro Oxidant (8-1) are two more class-droppers who can beat Traegar, who ranks 10th among the field in Brisnet Prime Power.
#9 Clever Thought (5-2) in the fifth race at Keeneland. A well-beaten seventh in a Keeneland allowance last April, Clever Thought has lost three races since, including a pair of suspect allowances restricted to three-year-olds, and he offers little appeal at short odds in the first start against elder rivals.
What Else Is Worth Noting
The Churchill Downs fall meet will kick off Sunday with the Grade 3 Street Sense, a 2024 Road to the Kentucky Derby prep race, along with the Rags to Riches S., which will award points for the Kentucky Oaks trail. Kenny McPeek will be well-represented in both races, with #1 Generous Tipper (7-2), the third-place finisher in the Breeders' Futurity (G1), and #3 Northern Flame (4-1) in the Street Sense, as well as heavy morning line favorite #3 V V's Dream (6-5) and #5 Shimmering Allure (6-1) in the Rags to Riches. V V's Dream was most recently beaten a length as the favorite in the Alcibiades and will look to rebound in her fifth career start. The Mitole two-year-old romped to an 8 3/4-length win in the Pocahontas (G3) at Churchill in September and broke her maiden at the track in May. She should get the win and add another 10 points to her tally on the Oaks leaderboard Sunday.
The 1 1/8-mile Fayette (G2) at Keeneland drew a competitive field of 12, including seven graded stakes winners, and the number of frontrunners entered suggests a hot and/or contested pace. I’ll give the edge to #9 O’Connor (5-1), who has registered triple-digit Brisnet Late Pace numbers in three starts since returning from a freshening in August, including a couple of graded placings. Race dynamics weren’t right for him in the Woodward (G2) last time, expecting a better flow for the confirmed closer. #2 Happy American (15-1) also has appeal for horizontal and vertical exotics; the gelding finished with interest versus stakes foes last time and may continue to show more with a ground-saving trip the second time off the freshening.