The Jury: Bets and fades for April 16

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TwinSpires Staff

April 15th, 2022

The TwinSpires Jury, consisting of James Scully, Kellie Reilly, and Vance Hanson, are back with thoughts on this Easter weekend's racing action, which is highlighted by a trio of graded stakes at Keeneland and the return of champion sprinter Jackie's Warrior at Oaklawn Park.

What is your best bet?

James Scully: After breaking his maiden impressively at Saratoga, #8 Ducale (5-1) ran into a couple of buzzsaws, Baby Yoda and Olympiad, in an entry-level allowance, finishing third as the favorite. The Brad Cox-trained colt came back with a nice allowance score at Keeneland, and Ducale recorded a good second in his sophomore finale, finishing a length back of Cody's Wish, who reeled off three straight wins for Bill Mott before opening this year with a neck second in the Challenger S. (G3) at Tampa Bay Downs. Ducale has trained forwardly in preparation, won off a freshening and at Keeneland previously, and he looks set to keep moving forward at age four. Tabbing the 5-1 third choice on the morning line in the 11th at Keeneland for a frontrunning win.

Kellie Reilly: #11 Pennybaker (5-1) brings a fascinating profile into her U.S. (and dirt) debut in the Heavenly Cause S. at Laurel. The Godolphin homebred couldn't break her maiden on the turf in France, but became a different animal when switching to all-weather. Racking up four straight wins while climbing the class ladder, Pennybaker captured a Dec. 17 listed stakes over Pevensey Bay, who went on to win a Group 2 (and place in another) at the Dubai Carnival. Interestingly, Pennybaker's rise on the synthetic apparently prompted Godolphin to withdraw her from the Arqana December Sale and transfer her stateside. Her pedigree is a tip that she'll like the main track, being by Medaglia d'Oro and out of sister to Frosted, and new trainer Michael Stidham is reportedly very pleased with how she's training on dirt.

Vance Hanson: I like the chances of #5 Change of Control (4-1) to continue her recent domination of Keeneland's major turf sprints for fillies and mares in Saturday's Giant's Causeway S. Victorious in the event last year, she doubled up last October by winning the Franklin County (G3) in bottomless ground. The Fed Biz mare has been a gem of consistency within her division for a long time, and it's hard not to give her a pass for her latest at Fair Grounds when she missed the break.

Who is the horse to fade?

JS: #2 In Due Time is pegged as the 3-1 second choice in the Lexington S. (G3), but he easily could go favored following a runner-up in the Fountain of Youth (G2) at Keeneland. The South Florida Kentucky Derby (G1) prep races weren't fast — In Due Time earned a 91 Brisnet Speed rating last time — and given that Kelly Breen opted for the 1 1/16-mile Lexington distance over the 1 1/8-mile races last weekend, In Due Time's affinity for two-turn distances looks suspect. Will play against at expected short odds.

KR: I have a bit of a mental reservation regarding In Due Time in the Lexington. Given my esteem for Fountain of Youth winner Simplification, I ought to like In Due Time as the runner-up that day. But In Due Time needed more time to get over that effort, which is why trainer Kelly Breen told Daily Racing Form that he was skipping the Florida Derby (G1). Although the extra couple of weeks could help him bounce back to his Gulfstream Park form, it does raise a question at a likely short price. It's a competitive race so he doesn't exactly lay over the field either.

VH: Broken record time — I'm not a big fan either of In Due Time heading into the Lexington. Trainer Kelly Breen reportedly said the Fountain of Youth, in which In Due Time finished second, took a lot out of the colt. So much, evidently, that he bypassed the points-rich Kentucky Derby preps of the last two weeks. Connections are happy with what they see after giving him additional time, but if that's the background story heading into Saturday, then taking a short price on a colt with not a whole lot of margin for error doesn't seem an intriguing proposition.

What else is worth noting?

JS: #2 Double Clutch provides an early opportunity on Saturday's program at Keeneland in the second race. A Feb. 26 maiden at Gulfstream seems key to this contest, with the top-two choices on the morning line (Growth Capital and Chasing the Crown) winding up second and fourth in that event, and both rivals are drawn outside today. Double Clutch rallied boldly for third in the Gulfstream heat after breaking slowly from an outside post, taking the overland route before losing by 1 1/4 lengths, and the sophomore colt now will make his second start for Rusty Arnold (20% second time out) from a favorable inside post. Double Clutch has something going for him, and he's listed at an appealing 6-1.

KS: I'm eager to see #3 Shantisara (6-5) in her reappearance in the Jenny Wiley (G1). The Keeneland feature is on the short end of her distance range, at 1 1/16 miles, and right in the wheelhouse of fellow Chad Brown trainee Regal Glory. Still, judging by her performances versus fellow three-year-olds last season, Shantisara looks bound for the top of the filly and mare turf division. Also, at Laurel, #5 South Street (8-1) is interesting in the Federico Tesio S. In his first start since switching to Bill Mott, the Wygod homebred leveled off beautifully to go last-to-first off a slow pace in his Aqueduct maiden at this 1 1/8-mile distance. South Street is a well-bred son of Quality Road and the Bernardini mare Miss Catomine, who is out of champion Sweet Catomine (herself a full sister to Life Is Sweet).

VH: He's not my top selection in the Lexington (though perhaps he should have been worth taking the flyer on), but #1 Midnight Chrome (20-1) looks intriguing as a longshot worth using in some capacity. Saturday's race marks only his second two-turn attempt on dirt — the first was the increasingly vintage renewal of the Remsen (G2) in December dominated by Mo Donegal and Zandon. Although he didn't finish in the same zip code as that pair, he did manage to show after tracking close to a pedestrian pace, which is surely not his preferred style. With form largely "hidden" by an inordinate amount of turf attempts, Midnight Chrome is sure to be overlooked a bit in the wagering.