The Jury: Expert Picks, Bets and Fades for June 22 [Video]

June 20th, 2024

Racing analysts James Scully, Ashley Anderson, and Darin Zoccali propose their best bets and fades at Churchill Downs, Thistledown, 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:

#8 She Called (7-2) in the ninth race at Churchill Downs Saturday. A sharp maiden winner two back, She Called appears well-spotted for her second start against winners. The three-year-old filly exits a game fourth in a May 25 entry-level allowance, dueling on the front end before grudgingly giving way in deep stretch, and she won’t face the same level of competition Saturday. That race featured Nay V Belle, who has a future in the stakes ranks for new trainer Greg Foley following the nice win, and runner-up Silver Rose, who came back to crush entry-level allowance foes at odds-on Wednesday. Norm Casse does well with up-and-coming types, and She Called looks poised to keep improving off an encouraging performance.

Ashley Anderson:

#7 Queen of Paris (4-1) in the eighth race at Churchill, a 1 1/16-mile maiden special weight for fillies and mares three years old and up. The Tapit sophomore got up to finish third by 1 3/4 lengths on debut in a seven-furlong maiden special weight at Churchill on May 25 and will make her second start for Brad Cox while trying a route distance for the first time. Cox is a 29% winner, and finishes in the money 64% of the time, with first-time route-runners. He's also a 28% winner with second career starts and with horses going from a sprint to a route. Florent Geroux, who had the mount for Queen of Paris' debut, will stay in the saddle and strikes at a 22% clip with route distances. The filly also put in a bullet four-furlong workout at Ellis on June 15. With TwinSpires' Selected Races Money Back offer, I'll back her over vulnerable morning-line favorite #6 Genetics (3-1) and Chad Brown runner #5 Save Time (7-2).

Top Fade for Weekend Racing


#6 Outadore (6-5) in the sixth race at Churchill Saturday. Two recent races provide a good gauge on these competitors. On April 27, Outadore narrowly defeated #8 Counterstrike in a turf sprint under the Twin Spires. Following the head second, Counterstrike came back to finish eighth (with no excuses) in a May 25 turf sprint. The runner-up in the latter, #4 Clear the Air, rates as an excellent rebound candidate Saturday following a troubled effort at Saratoga. And #7 B D Valesky is a candidate to keep progressing off a sixth in the same race. Outadore narrowly held in his last outing, but I will fade the six-year-old gelding against deeper competition Saturday.


#1 Windy Walk (5-2) in Churchill's fourth race on Saturday, a one-mile allowance for fillies and mares. The Munnings three-year-old won by 4 1/4 lengths last out in a one-mile claimer at Churchill with an 86 Brisnet Speed figure, but the opposition she faced was a bit weak, earning a 110 Race Rating, which is lower than the recent competition faced by the rest of Windy Walk's rivals in Saturday's allowance. The filly also faced allowance company two back in a seven-furlong sprint at Churchill and finished a distant seventh. Her trainer is winning at a 17% rate this meet but strikes at just an 8% rate with horses coming off a win. Hot jockey Jose Ortiz is aboard, but I think Windy Walk can be defeated by a few in this field. #5 Windy Bay (3-1) was beaten three-quarters of a length and a neck in her last two racing 1 1/16 miles in allowances at Churchill and can improve with the cutback in distance. Mike Maker trainee #3 Thorny (7-2) could also benefit from the shorter distance after she was beaten as the favorite in a 1 1/16-mile allowance at Churchill on May 30. #7 Classic Performer (5-1) from the far outside is also intriguing in her second route start for Grant Forster, who's winning at a 21% clip at Churchill.

What Else Is Worth Noting


Joel Rosario has spent the week riding at Royal Ascot, with his last mount being Keeneland debut winner Burning Pine in Friday’s Ascot (G3), and the 2024 Hall of Fame inductee will head right back home to ride at Aqueduct Saturday. Named aboard a trio of Christophe Clement runners, Rosario will also guide last-out maiden scorer Chantilly Road for Chad Brown in the Wild Applause S.


The Grade 3 Chicago will pit defending champ Society with horse-for-the-course Vahva in Race 7 on Saturday. The seven-furlong stake drew five and should come down to the two Grade 1 winners; both are short prices, with Society listed at 4-5 and Vahva at 1-1. The former drew the rail post and should get an uncontested lead as the lone speed in the field. The Gun Runner five-year-old won the Chicago last year in record time and by a record margin of 10 1/2 lengths before dominating by 5 1/2 lengths in the Pink Ribbon S. at Charles Town in August. In her most recent start, back in November, Society came home fourth to Goodnight Olive in the Breeders' Cup Filly & Mare Sprint (G1) and will now make her first start in more than seven months.

Her main competition, Vahva, just earned her first Grade 1 victory in the Derby City Distaff on May 4 at Churchill and has three victories in her last four starts, with her lone loss coming by half a length in the Madison (G1) when returning off a more than six-month layoff. Vahva is 3-for-3 lifetime at Churchill and owns a 6-4-2-0 record at today's distance. I give her the slight advantage in her third start of the season for red-hot trainer Cherie DeVaux, who's winning at a 24% rate this meet.