The Jury: Expert Picks, Bets and Fades for June 1 [Video]

May 31st, 2024

Racing analysts Ashley Anderson, James Scully, and Darin Zoccali debate their best bets and fades at Churchill Downs and more. 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

James Scully:

#6 Dreamlike (4-1) in the Blame (G3) at Churchill Downs Saturday. He hasn’t been the most consistent performer, competing in graded stakes as a maiden, but Dreamlike looks set for a top showing following a fine comeback effort in a 1 1/16-mile allowance at Keeneland. The four-year-old rated off a moderate pace last time and ran out of room in the short stretch, missing by a neck to multiple graded stakes-placed Cagliostro, who enjoyed a favorable set up narrowly prevailing on the front end. Dreamlike ran his best races at today’s 1 1/8-mile distance last season, including a fast-finishing second in the Pennsylvania Derby (G1), and the son of Gun Runner has always looked like the type who would keep developing as an older horse for Todd Pletcher. The stalker projects to receive a favorable set up in the Blame and I like his chances with Irad Ortiz Jr. 

Ashley Anderson:

#5 Formidable Man (5-1) in the Audubon S., Race 11 on Churchill's Stephen Foster Preview Day card on Saturday. The City of Light colt won two back at today’s distance of 1 1/8 miles on the turf, then jumped back up to graded stakes company in the American Turf (G2) at Churchill in early May and had the lead through the stretch before he was collared nearing the final sixteenth and yielded to finish second. The three-year-old earned a 96 Brisnet Speed figure, the highest last race speed rating among today's field, and he'll drop back down in class today for Michael McCarthy, a 14% winner in non-graded stakes. Luis Saez will retain the mount and strikes at a 22% rate with early/presser types. Formidable Man also put in a bullet five-furlong workout on May 25. He's second in Brisnet's Prime Power ranking for the field, just behind morning line favorite Cugino, who has yet to win since breaking his maiden five starts back.

Top Fade for Weekend Racing


#1 Ottoman Fleet (9-5) in the Arlington (G3) at Churchill Downs Saturday. Sidelined after a third to Up to the Mark last June, five-year-old gelding has not come back in the same form this season and his last effort, a runner-up effort to Master Piece in the Fort Marcy (G2) at Aqueduct, is a cause for concern. That rival was exiting a third-place effort to Running Bee and Dominican Pioneer in a Keeneland allowance, and Ottoman Fleet did not want to go past in the final furlong after drifting out in upper stretch. He’ll try to turn things around in his sixth start since late December, but I like others and will play against the heavy favorite.


#2 Highland Falls (5-2) in the 1 1/8-mile Blame (G3), the local prep for the Stephen Foster S. (G1) in June. The Curlin colt was last seen finishing a two-length second to Skippylongstocking in the 1 1/8-mile Oaklawn H. (G2) and has not won since stretching out beyond 1 1/16 miles or facing stakes company. The Brad Cox trainee is taking on a deep field of 11, though three longshots who raced on May 27 may scratch — #4 Uncle Jake (30-1), #7 Classic Causeway (30-1), and #10 Five Star General (30-1). All three are early pacesetter types, so their potential absence could adversely affect the ideal pace setup for a late runner like Highland Falls.

I see a handful of runners capable of winning at better prices. #3 War Campaign (9-2) is coming off a pair of runner-up efforts in graded stakes and can improve third start off the layoff; #11 Trademark (12-1) is a horse for the course with a 7-4-1-0 record at Churchill; #5 Tapit Trice (3-1) could get the job done in his four-year-old debut while returning off a nine-month layoff; and his stablemate #6 Dreamlike (4-1) may be the best chance second off the layoff and stretching back out to 1 1/8 miles.

What Else Is Worth Noting


Six stakes highlight Saturday’s Stephen Foster Preview program at Churchill Downs, TwinSpires will offer wagering on Saturday’s 244th running of the English Derby (G1) at Epsom, and I’m excited for the Belmont Stakes Racing Festival action at Saratoga next week. 

I’ll try to build the bankroll with #8 Under the Palms (10-1) in the third race at Churchill Downs Saturday. An Indiana-bred daughter of Enticed, Under the Palms made steady progress in her first three starts and broke through on the Arkansas Derby (G1) undercard at Oaklawn Park, displaying improved speed to comfortably win a salty maiden special weight for three-year-old fillies. Under the Palms ran down a loose leader, 3-5 favorite and Bob Baffert-trained Bonaqua, who had finished second a couple starts previously to recent impressive allowance winner and stakes-bound Nay V Belle. And as a result, Under the Palms was favored versus entry-level allowance rivals on April 26. But she lost all chance when falling out of the starting, barely keeping the jockey aboard after the bad stumble and winding up last early, and Under the Palms is better than the fourth-place effort indicates. Given the lack of speed in Saturday’s field, the Kenny McPeek trainee should be prominent from the break, and I will look for a strong showing with Brian Hernandez Jr. 


On Sunday, Churchill will host another Grade 3, the Old Forester Mint Julep S., a 1 1/16-mile turf test for fillies and mares. Last year's upset winner Henrietta Topham is back to defend her title, but she has failed to win in four starts since her Mint Julep victory, and she's got a couple of tough rivals in the nine-horse field. #7 Delahaye () will be tough to beat for Chad Brown. The Medaglia d'Oro filly was on a three-win streak before she finished a two-length third to stablemate Chili Flag in the Distaff Turf Mile (G2) on May 4. The four-year-old clocked a 104 BRIS figure, the highest last race speed figure among the field, and she's returning to a distance from which she's 3-for-3 lifetime.

#8 Heavenly Sunday () also has a chance for Brad Cox. The Candy Ride filly won at today's distance at Churchill in the 2023 Edgewood (G2), but she's been a bit inconsistent since, with her only win in five starts since coming in the 1 1/16-mile Mrs. Revere (G3) when taken off Churchill's turf.

#6 Immensitude () is also intriguing for Bill Mott. The French-bred has performed best at 1 1/8 miles and on softer turf, which she may get Sunday. She made her debut for Mott's barn last out in a 1 1/8-mile allowance at Keeneland and finished a two-length third as the favorite. She's eligible to improve second start off the layoff and will pick up Flavien Prat.