The Jury: Bets and fades for May 13

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TwinSpires Staff

May 12th, 2023

The TwinSpires Jury returns this week, a relatively quiet one between the Kentucky Derby (G1) and Preakness (G1). James Scully, Vance Hanson, and Ashley Anderson provide their best plays from around the country.

What is your best bet?

James Scully: #4 Magical Ways (8-1) in Saturday’s fourth race at Belmont Park. Displaying improved speed in his last few starts, the four-year-old graduated convincingly on the front end when dropped in for a tag last time, and new trainer David Jacobson has kept the colt sharp with three works in the 22-day interim. The speedster will look to carry his form forward with Junior Alvarado.

Vance Hanson: #8 Cecile (12-1) is an interesting entry in the fourth race at Churchill Downs, a one-mile grass maiden for three-year-old fillies. In two prior starts on the main track, Cecile flashed positional speed and faded. However, the latter might have been the toughest maiden of the entire Oaklawn meet, as all of the top three came back to win. Among them was Punchbowl, who narrowly lost the Ashland (G1), and Sacred Wish, runner-up in the Gulfstream Park Oaks (G2). Cecile is by 14% first-turf sire Mendelssohn and out of a Giant's Causeway mare, and the barn she hails from is winning at a 28% clip this season. She could move up considerably switching to the turf.

Ashley Anderson: #4 Charging Aero (9-2) was sixth by 3 3/4 lengths last out when racing in a 5 1/2-furlong allowance on Keeneland's turf, but two back, he ran at today's distance of seven furlongs on Tampa Bay's dirt and was beaten to second by less than a length. The Will Take Charge gelding can bounce back with the return to dirt and a stretch back out to seven-eighths of a mile in Churchill's sixth race on Saturday. The four-year-old will also get some class relief in the $50,000 claimer, and a rider switch to Luis Saez (24% winner this meet) is an added plus. Trainer Darien Rodriguez is also a 20% winner with horses switching from turf to dirt and a 21% winner at the claiming level. I'll back Charging Aero over morning line favorite #8 Guntown (3-1), who may struggle with the cutback to a sprint distance after racing at or near 1 1/16 miles in his last six.

Who is the horse to fade?

JS: Guntown (3-1) drops in for a $50,000 claiming tag in Saturday’s sixth race at Churchill Downs, but he’s never fired in three previous attempts over the surface and the one-run closer cuts back to an unproven distance in a field lacking pace. I will try to beat the class dropper.

VH: I'm standing against #2 Gaslight Dancer (2-1) in a highly competitive renewal of the William Walker S. at Churchill Downs. There's nothing wrong with his current form, per se, but I would expect some of the rivals he recently defeated in the Palisades S. at Keeneland to be more effective here, especially Private Creed, who broke slow and made little impact as the favorite. Another possibility is stakes newcomer Gilcrease, who returns to the grass for the first time since his longshot maiden score at Saratoga last August. At a juicy early price of 15-1, I'm willing to take a shot with him and find out how well he fits against this crew.

AA: #12 Foreign Relations (7-2) crossed the wire first by 4 1/4 lengths in an allowance at Keeneland last out, but the five-year-old was disqualified to last and his jockey suspended for careless riding due to a dangerous move in midstretch that caused a rival to clip heels. The Karakontie son will get a rider switch to Julien Leparoux, just a 2% winner in his last 81 turf rides, and trainer Conor Murphy is a 10% winner in his last 105 turf starts. I’ll stand against the morning line favorite and back #2 F Five (10-1), who was beaten by a nose in a 1 1/8-mile allowance last out and may improve in his second turf start for Brian Lynch. #9 Jarreau (4-1) is also intriguing. The six-year-old gelding finished third last out, 3 1/4 lengths behind F Five, in that 1 1/8-mile allowance at Keeneland. The Pioneerof the Nile son can improve in his second start off a layoff and will pick up hot jockey Tyler Gaffalione, a 21% winner this meet.

What else is worth noting?

JS: After finishing third (Angel of Empire), fifth (Hit Show), 16th (Verifying), and 17th (Jace’s Road) in the Kentucky Derby, Brad Cox has another contingent of three-year-olds looking to make an impact in the coming weeks. Bishops Bay, unbeaten from a pair of starts, will be the one to beat in Saturday’s Peter Pan (G2) at Belmont Park, and Cox will send a dangerous new shooter to the Preakness, First Mission. The Eclipse Award-winning conditioner has Demolition Duke, Instant Coffee, and Tapit Shoes preparing for upcoming two-turn stakes, and Lafayette S. winner Corona Bolt targeting the upcoming major three-year-old sprint stakes.

VH: #11 Jubilee Bridge (5-1) is another horse of interest for me on Saturday in the N2X allowance feature for fillies and mares at Pimlico, which goes as the eighth race. The Mike Stidham trainee was only fourth in her first try over the local course last fall, but she was returning from a 15-month layoff that day and subsequently failed to fire at Keeneland. However, her form over the winter at Turfway was commendable, winning or placing in all four starts. A winner over the grass in England early in her career, her recency advantage might give her an edge over likely favorite Miss Carol Ann, who has not started since mid-September.

AA: Upset winner of the Elkhorn (G2), #4 Verstappen (6-1) will re-oppose a number of his rivals from that stakes event in the 1 3/8 mile Man o' War (G1) at Belmont on Saturday, including #1 Red Knight (7-2), who was beaten by a head in the 1 1/2-mile turf outing at Keeneland. While the renewal of their rivalry could see Red Knight rebound in his second start off a layoff and with a return to rider Irad Ortiz Jr., another runner in the field is worth keeping an eye on in #2 Warren Point (9-5), who will make his first U.S. start. The Dubawi gelding was beaten by a half-length last out in The Amir Trophy (G1) in February and will ship to the U.S. for Charlie Appleby, who suffered a disappointing setback in the Man o' War last year when 1-2 favorite Yibir finished third to 19-1 longshot Highland Chief. Warren Point owns a flashy 8-5-2-1 lifetime record and will make a rider switch to Frankie Dettori for his U.S. debut. He shipped over to North America with Ottoman Fleet, who won the Fort Marcy (G2) for Appleby and Godolphin at Belmont last weekend.