Horses to Watch: 3 entered at Belmont, Churchill

Horses to Watch: 3 entered at Belmont, Churchill
Photo: Jessica Morgan/Eclipse Sportswire

In this biweekly series, racing analyst Keeler Johnson shares promising horses from his handicapping watch list, reviewing runners who have recently caught his eye and previewing horses scheduled to run back in the near future.

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Favorite Outlaw

Nearly five months have passed since Favorite Outlaw romped to a 3 1/2-length maiden victory sprinting six furlongs at Oaklawn, but if he’s ready to roll off the layoff, Favorite Outlaw can challenge for victory in Saturday’s 10th race at Churchill Downs, a 6 1/2-furlong allowance (post time 5:26 p.m. EDT).

Favorite Outlaw’s flashy maiden score produced a solid 98 Brisnet Speed Rating, an improvement upon the 91 he posted when finishing second in his debut over the same track, distance and class level, an occasion on which Favorite Outlaw was beaten a nose by next-out allowance optional claiming winner Apprehend.

Favorite Outlaw is bred for speed and showed plenty of it in his two starts at Oaklawn, tracking hot fractions both times. Brisnet stats indicate National Museum of Racing Halll of Fame trainer Steve Asmussen wins at a respectable 17 percent rate with horses returning from layoffs of 90 days or more, so don’t be surprised if Favorite Outlaw makes his comeback race a winning one, with even better to come down the road.

Juju’s Map

Juju’s Map was one of the best 2-year-old fillies in training last year, posting a blowout victory in the Alcibiades (G1) before battling to a runner-up effort in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies. She got started too late in 2022 to give the Kentucky Oaks (G1) a try, but Juju’s Map has a chance to seize the summer narrative with a victory in Saturday’s eighth race at Belmont Park, the Mother Goose (G2) (post time 4:40 p.m. EDT).

Juju’s Map was much the best in her 2022 debut, wiring a 1 1/16-mile allowance optional claimer at Churchill Downs by 4 3/4 lengths. She’s the most accomplished of five fillies entered in the Mother Goose and figures to enjoy a clean trip while breaking from the outside post. Trainer Brad Cox has been hot at Belmont this spring, going 6-for-20 (30 percent wins), and Juju’s Map can add another victory to that high-percentage success rate.


With five wins and two seconds from eight starts at Churchill Downs, Sconsin looms as a formidable horse-for-the-course contender in Saturday’s ninth race at Churchill Downs, the Chicago (G3) (post time 4:55 p.m. EDT).

Sconsin has already won four stakes (three of them graded) over Louisville’s famous oval, most recently kicking off 2022 with a quick victory in the Winning Colors (G3). She’s facing half a dozen fellow stakes winners in the Chicago, including Derby City Distaff (G1) heroine Bell’s the One, but Sconsin defeated Bell’s the One in the Open Mind at Churchill last year and should have every chance to do so again on Saturday.

Which horses do you have your eyes on?

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