The Jury: Expert Picks, Bets and Fades for May 25 [Video]

May 24th, 2024

Racing analysts Ashley Anderson, James Scully, and Darin Zoccali talk 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:

#5 Mucho Mojo (6-1) in the eighth race at Churchill Downs Saturday. A good second last fall under the Twin Spires, this five-year-old gelding competed over the Tapeta track at Turfway this winter and returned to Churchill Downs on May 2 with a sneaky fourth, putting away the favored My Romeo Lima on the front end before grudgingly giving way to late runners on the best part of the track. The main track on May 2 changed late in the day, favoring off-the-pace runners. Races 8 and 11 were held on turf, and speed performed poorly in the Kentucky Juvenile (Race 9), O Besos closed from last to upset the St. Mattews (Race 10), and Mucho Mojo ran a big race on the front end in Race 12. Brendan Walsh takes over Mucho Mojo’s training and I expect a strong showing on the front end.

Ashley Anderson:

#1 Shezalittlestinker (10-1) in Race 11, a seven-furlong maiden special weight for fillies and mares at Churchill. One of three first-time starters in a field of 11, Shezalittlestinker has a shot from the rail in her debut for Wayne Catalano, a 17% winner at the maiden special weight level and with horses making their first start against that class level. Shezalittlestinker, a Gun Runner filly, was purchased for $400,000 as a yearling at the Keeneland September sale, and she's out of an Unbridled's Song dam who has produced three winners from three starters, including a stakes winner. Gun Runner's progeny also win at a 16% rate when making their first start, and with rain in the forecast throughout the week, Shezalittlestinker also has the pedigree to do well on an off track. Jockey Jose Ortiz is named to ride and strikes at a 20% rate with sprints, and he just paired up with Catalano to win with an 11-1 longshot, Where Ya At Vince, at Keeneland in April. I'll back the duo again here with a price.

Top Fade for Weekend Racing


#6 Genetics (5-2) in the sixth race at Churchill Saturday. Her numbers won’t match the short price and the sophomore filly struggled to get out of the gate last fall, including a pair of losses as the favorite. There’s no guarantee she’ll break today, and I will look to bet #7 Prides Crossing (9-2), who appears to be training forwardly for her career debut. By solid 14% first-out sire Quality Road, Prides Crossing hails from a stakes-winning dam and is bred to run early. This is immediate female family of Justa Warrior, who won her debut by five lengths and the Ellis Debutante second time out.


#8 She Called (7-2) in Race 9, a six-furlong allowance optional claimer for three-year-old fillies. The daughter of Audible is returning off a maiden win in her second career start racing at today's distance while beating nine rivals over an Oaklawn track labeled good. The three-year-old clocked an 87 Brisnet Speed figure, the highest last race speed rating among the field, but she faced lighter competition compared to many of her rivals recently. Norm Casse is a 19% winner with shippers, but he's just 1-for-11 to start the meet, and regular rider Ricardo Santana Jr. is a bit cold too at Churchill, with a 2-for-25 win rate.

There are a few other runners who are coming out of much tougher races than She Called and have a chance to win here. #7 Nay V Belle (5-1) recorded an 86 BRIS figure last out when beaten a half-length in a 6 1/2-furlong allowance at Santa Anita and will make her first start for Greg Foley, a 29% winner this meet. #3 Harbor Springs (5-1) is a late closer who won by six lengths in her second career start before jumping up to graded stakes company. She was fourth last out over a sloppy Churchill track on May 3 but may improve third start off the layoff. Two other fillies who look like win contenders and are moving up in class are #2 Plum Tricky (8-1), who broke her maiden by more than four lengths last out after getting beaten by a head two back in her third career start for Dallas Stewart, and #10 Winakaching (15-1) is a longshot to consider for Dale Romans after she triumphed by 5 3/4 lengths in a maiden special weight at Keeneland on April 20.

What Else Is Worth Noting


Saturday’s Pennine Ridge (G2) at Aqueduct is a race of interest. #2 Legend of Time will look to make amends for his fifth as the favorite in the American Turf (G2) on Kentucky Derby undercard, and Chad Brown has a pair of intriguing last-out maiden winners in #1 White Palomino and #3 Risk Tolerance. And I’m excited to see #5 Royal Majesty return to stakes competition for Bill Mott following a sharp allowance triumph at Keeneland. An English-bred son of Frankel, Royal Majesty hails from Crown Queen, who concluded her racing career with four consecutive wins, including the 2014 Queen Elizabeth II Challenge Cup (G1) for Mott.

And I’ll mention the Grade 1 turf stakes on Monday’s Memorial Day program at Santa Anita, the Shoemaker Mile and Gamely. Exaulted will make a title defense in the Shoemaker against Kilroe Mile (G1) winner Du Jour and Johannes, who looks poised to make a serious impact at age four following a terrific comeback win in the American (G2). American Oaks (G1) heroine Anisette will open her four-year-old campaign in Gamely, and Ruby Nell merits respect for Richard Mandella off a nice win in the Buena Vista (G2). 


On Memorial Day, Churchill Downs will host the 21st edition of the Winning Colors (G3), a six-furlong sprint for fillies and mares. Juddmonte's Dazzling Blue headlines the 11-horse field and drew the far outside, and will look to rebound off a neck second to Zeitlos in the Roxelana Overnight S. at Churchill on April 27. The Into Mischief filly was coming off a six-month layoff and should improve second start back off the bench for Brad Cox. Dazzling Blue will also keep regular rider Florent Geroux — who has won this race twice, including last year's running — but reaching the winner's circle will be no easy task. There's a ton of speed signed on, with multiple stakes winner #2 B G Warrior and Grade 3 winner #5 Spirit Wind among a handful who will go for the early lead. Dazzling Blue likes to sit just off the early pace, but this race could set up for a closer, like #1 Royal Spa, who just flashed a 102 Late Pace rating when winning a seven-furlong allowance optional claimer against 11 rivals at Keeneland. Recent allowance scorer #3 Clearly Unhinged is another filly who likes to track the early pace and posted a 98 BRIS figure in her first start for Steve Asmussen. The trainer also won last year's Winning Colors with Echo Zulu and has three victories overall in the race.