The Jury: Bets and fades for July 16

Profile Picture: TwinSpires Staff

TwinSpires Staff

July 15th, 2022

The Jury of James Scully, Kellie Reilly, and Ashley Anderson look ahead to the weekend of races at Ellis Park, Laurel Park, and opening weekend of Saratoga.

What is your best bet?

James Scully: In Saturday’s 6th race at Ellis Park, an entry-level turf allowance for three-year-old fillies, #9 Bali Dreamin (8-1) does not face an imposing group of rivals for her first turf attempt. A sharp frontrunning maiden scorer at Oaklawn two back, Bali Dreamin exits a respectable fourth behind Static Fire and Ontheonesandtwos in a deep 10-horse allowance on Churchill’s main track. Her Brisnet Speed figures are strong, and Bali Dreamin is bred to relish the turf. From the first crop of multiple Grade 1-winning turf miler Bal a Bali, she's out of a half-sister to turf champion English Channel, and her lone sibling to race is turf stakes-placed. Bali Dreamin is listed at an attractive 8-1 on the morning line.
Kellie Reilly: #8 Petricor (5-2) has run well in both U.S. starts at 1 1/16 miles, but the 1 1/8 miles of Saturday’s Big Dreyfus S. at Laurel suits her even better. Formerly based in France, where she was briefly on the classic trail, the Juddmonte homebred made a winning debut for Bill Mott in a Keeneland allowance. That made her the favorite in the Mint Julep (G3) at Churchill Downs, but a slow start put her dead last in a steadily-run race. In the circumstances, Petricor turned in a creditable effort to close for fourth. With a decent break, added ground, and going back on Lasix for the first time since Keeneland, the royally-bred daughter of Frankel can rebound.

Ashley Anderson: #2 Fille d'Esprit (5-2) will challenge heavy morning line favorite Chub Wagon (7-5), who won her season debut at five furlongs at Parx last out on June 27. Five-year-old Chub Wagon clocked a 101 Brisnet Speed rating at today's distance three back, at Park in September, but her recent Speed figure (90) at a sprint leaves much to be desired. Fille d'Esprit posted a sharp 96 BRIS rating at six furlongs in the June 17 Susquehanna Valley Stakes at Penn National, and hot trainer John Robb is a 29% winner in non-graded stakes. Regular rider Xavier Perez is also a 20% winner this meet and a 26% winner paired up with Robb over the last two months.

Who is the horse to fade?

JS: Making his first start against winners, Fort Ticonderoga appears vulnerable as the 2-1 morning line favorite in Saturday’s 9th race at Saratoga. The lightly-raced sophomore faced little resistance in deep stretch from runner-up Growth Capital, who has been more willing to settle for second in three consecutive starts, and the waters get much deeper for Fort Ticonderoga in this entry-level allowance race.

KR: #6 Special Reserve (8-5) has not been seen since his fourth in last November’s Breeders’ Cup Sprint (G1), and his reappearance in Saturday’s Frank J. De Francis Memorial Dash at Laurel has the vibe of a starting point. The Mike Maker charge would be a prime win threat if able to pick up right where he left off. Considering that he was on a roll, in career-best form, last campaign, it might be asking a lot to expect a peak effort here off the longest layoff of his life.

AA: #1 Pixelate (8-5) opened as the morning line favorite in the Prince George's County S. at Laurel and will make his first start in six months for trainer Michael Stidham. The five-year-old horse came home second in his final two starts last season, losing by a neck in the Bob F. Wright Memorial S. and by a half-length in the Buddy Diliberto Memorial S., both at Fair Grounds. His first career start at Laurel could continue his plight with second-itis, especially after drawing the rail post. He'll face stiff competition from #5 Beacon Hill (9-5), who won an optional claimer in his most recent start at Laurel in September. The Michael Matz pupil failed as the favorite last out in the Bensalem Match Series S., finishing a nose second to #2 Eons (2-1), who re-opposes here. Eons should also be competitive once again with a jockey switch to hot rider Jorge Ruiz. He also beat Pixelate the last time he raced at today's distance, in the Buckland S. at Colonial Downs.

What else is worth noting?

JS: #4 Forte will take some beating in the Sanford (G3), rallying from just off the pace to win his debut by 7 1/2 lengths at Belmont for Todd Pletcher, but I am intrigued by New Jersey-bred #3 Great Navigator, who offered a sharp turn of foot to romp in his first outing at Monmouth Park. The third-place finisher, Rol Again Dancer, came right back to easily defeat Wasabi Boy, runner-up to Forte, and Great Navigator should get some pace to run at in Saturday’s 12-horse field. I will key Forte and Great Navigator in all horizontal and vertical wagers.

KR: Saturday’s Diana (G1) at Saratoga could come down to a tale of trips, since there’s probably not much separating the Chad Brown quartet. Indeed, before the entries were published, I was toying with the idea of tabbing Brendan Walsh’s Ocean Road to topple them all. In her absence, it’s back to square one. This is the toughest test so far for unbeaten #3 Bleecker Street (6-5), whose price is too short in such a well-matched field. #1 Technical Analysis (3-1), 2-for-2 at the Spa, could end up with a favorable trip, although that depends upon the interplay with the other pace factors. Godolphin shipper #2 Creative Flair (8-1) might represent value, only if you trust that she’s improved since her 2021 stateside ventures. As a Dubawi filly, Creative Flair has a license to get better with age, and she finished alongside Brown’s #4 Rougir (3-1) when they placed in a French Group 3 last summer. Yet Brown has a Dubawi of his own in #6 In Italian (6-1), who’s never run a bad race and arguably has the most upside in this first try at 1 1/8 miles.

AA: Canterbury Park features an all-stakes Pick 4 on Saturday's card, beginning with Race 5, the Victor S. Myers S. A bevy of talented Minnesota-breds will compete in the first three legs, namely Twoko Bay in the Ralph Strangis S (Race 7). The seven-year-old grandson of Giant's Causeway won by three lengths in a one-mile turf test in his season debut at the track last out on May 29. The horse for Canterbury's course will cut back to 7 1/2 furlongs and retain rider Lindey Wade, who has won 27% of races paired up with Gary Scherer (a 27% winner at Canterbury this meet) over the last two months.