Keeler Johnson's picks and plays April 1

Profile Picture: J. Keeler Johnson

April 1st, 2022

Handicapper J. Keeler Johnson shares picks and plays for Friday, April 1 at Fonner Park and Turfway Park, along with a ticket for the mandatory-payout $154,346 Pick 6 carryover at Charles Town.

Today’s special offers from TwinSpires include:

  • Exacta Insurance: Receive refunds on exacta bets (up to $10) if your two selected horses finish in the first three home (but not in the winning order) at Turfway Park. Offer applies to straight exacta bets only.
  • Scandinavian Bet Back: Receive refunds on win bets (up to $10) if your horse finishes second in any race at Solvalla (SWE), Odense (SWE), Romme (SWE), or Biri (SWE).
  • $15,000 Australian Autumn Carnival Leaderboard: Place $10+ win bets at a selected Australian track (this week, Randwick) for a chance to win your share of a $2,500 weekly jackpot. Promotion runs every Friday from March 4 through April 8.

Picks and Plays

Fonner Park: Race 4: Allowance (four furlongs, 5:15 p.m. ET)

#3 Red Red Wine (2-1) was tons the best in a $5,000 claimer over this track and distance on March 19. Leading by daylight at every call, Red Red Wine crossed the finish line clear by 5 3/4 lengths in the fast time of :45.80 seconds.

This performance produced a flashy 87 Brisnet Speed rating, and anything close to a repeat should send Red Red Wine to the winner’s circle on Friday. The fact hot jockey Kevin Roman (a 25% winner this meet) is named to ride adds to the appeal.

#5 High Cost of Livin (9-2), runner-up in three straight allowance sprints at Fonner, can rally to complete the exacta in this speed-packed field.

  • $20 to win on #3 Red Red Wine
  • $10 Exacta: 3 with 5
    Total: $30

Turfway Park: Race 1: $30,000 Maiden Claiming (one mile on Tapeta, 6:15 p.m. ET)

#1 Honky Tonk Hero (9-5) is a logical favorite after placing in three straight maiden claimers racing one mile at Turfway. On March 3, Honky Tonk Hero carved out the pace in a $30,000 event before weakening slightly to finish second, beaten only 1 3/4 lengths while pulling four lengths clear of the rest.

But Honky Tonk Hero’s 8-0-2-2 lifetime record is cause for pause. He’s shown a tendency to settle for the minor awards, even on occasions when he’s been in the hunt for victory.

We’ll try to beat Honky Tonk Hero with #4 Big Paper (5-2). The beautifully bred son of Empire Maker finished sixth in his debut sprinting against maiden special weight company at Turfway, then shipped to Fair Grounds and ran second in a one-mile turf heat over the same class level. Running long on Tapeta should suit Big Paper just fine, and dropping down to the $30,000 maiden claiming level can trigger a competitive performance.

In addition to a win bet on Big Paper, we’ll play a cold $10 exacta keying Big Paper over Honky Tonk Hero, in order to capitalize on the Exacta Insurance promotion.

  • $20 to win on #4 Big Paper
  • $10 Exacta: 4 with 1
    Total: $30

Turfway Park: Race 4: $5,000 Claiming (six furlongs on Tapeta, 7:46 p.m. ET)

#3 Flirtatious Kitty (9-5) boasts a solid 4-2-1-0 résumé at Turfway, which includes a 2-for-2 record sprinting. On Feb. 19, she wired a $7,500 maiden claimer dashing 6 1/2 furlongs. Then on March 11, she employed pace-tracking tactics to win a $5,000 claimer over the same distance by 3 1/2 lengths.

The latter victory produced a career-best 80 Brisnet Speed rating, stamping Flirtatious Kitty as the mare to beat on Friday. Her tactical speed and clear affinity for Turfway sprints should win the day.

We’ll look for #7 Mama Lou (6-1) to round out a cold $10 exacta designed to pursue the Exacta Insurance promotion.

  • $20 to win on #3 Flirtatious Kitty
  • $10 Exacta: 3 with 7
    Total: $30

Carryover Watch

Charles Town: Race 3: $154,346 Pick 6 mandatory payout (8:02 p.m. ET)

The Pick 6 at Charles Town is normally a jackpot-style wager paying out the carryover only in the event a unique winning ticket is sold. But an exception will be made on Friday night, when the 20-cent wager (which carries a low 12% takeout rate) will feature the mandatory payout of a $154,346 carryover. Every bettor who assembles a winning ticket will earn a share of the jackpot.

What are we waiting for? Let’s analyze the sequence, then assemble a play for under $40:

Race 3: $5,000 Claiming (4 1/2 furlongs)

A staggering 59% of 4 1/2-furlong sprints at Charles Town are won in gate-to-wire fashion, so we’ll throw our support behind #1 Tiz the Reason (9-5) and #7 Miss Grandstander (5-2). The former routinely vies for command and wired a $10,000 claimer for West Virginia-breds two starts back; the latter showed pacesetting speed when dominating a $5,000-$4,500 claimer over this track and distance last time out.

Race 4: Allowance (4 1/2 furlongs)

#5 Lucylou Who (4-5) was a fast maiden special weight winner over this track and distance on March 17, leading all the way to score by 4 1/4 lengths. The 73 Brisnet Speed rating she posted is tied for the highest in Friday’s field.

Lucylou Who looks tough to catch under ultra-hot jockey Arnaldo Bocachica (a 32% winner at Charles Town), but just in case she falters in her first start against winners, we’ll use #2 Cherokee Castle (4-1) as backup. A pace-pressing maiden winner sprinting 4 1/2 furlongs at Charles Town, Cherokee Castle exits a respectable third-place finish over Friday’s class level.

Race 5: Maiden Special Weight (6 1/2 furlongs)

#8 Spunky Zoey (9-5) hasn’t missed the trifecta in four starts against maiden special weight company at Penn National, posting solid Brisnet Speed ratings in the 62-78 range. She’s a logical choice while shipping in for trainer Flint Stites, who has gone 3-1-2-0 (33% wins, 100% in the money) at Charles Town this meet.

But don’t dismiss #5 Startwithabang (5-2) and #4 Hot as Blue Blazes (3-1). The former is shipping from Laurel Park for her second start under the care of trainer Anthony Farrior, who has gone 46-for-108 (43%) at Charles Town this meet. Meanwhile, Hot as Blue Blazes exits a runner-up effort in a $30,000 maiden claimer racing one mile at Fair Grounds. If she improves while cutting back in distance, she can factor down the homestretch.

#3 Talented Corinna (8-1), adding blinkers off a fourth-place finish in her debut sprinting 4 1/2 furlongs at Charles Town, might be the best of the locals. Carlos Lopez (a 38% winner when teaming up with trainer Ronney Brown) is named to ride.

Race 6: Allowance (4 1/2 furlongs)

#3 Golden Key (8-5) is a pure speedster who hasn’t missed the trifecta in 12 starts sprinting 4 1/2 furlongs at Charles Town. The four-year-old gelding crossed the wire first by 3 3/4 lengths in a race over this class level on March 10, only to be disqualified to third place for causing early interference. If Golden Key runs his typical race on Friday, he can cruise to victory as a short-priced single.

Race 7: $5,000 Starter Allowance (4 1/2 furlongs)

Speed is the name of the game for #1 Beverly Park (1-1), who hasn’t been seriously challenged in two starts over this track and class level. Beverly Park routinely sets the pace and was beaten just a nose in a $5,000 starter allowance sprinting six furlongs at Laurel Park one week ago. With three straight Brisnet Speed ratings in the 92-97 range under his belt, Beverly Park is going to be tough to catch if he brings his A-game.

The only other horse we’ll include is fellow speedster #8 Primal Destiny (3-1), runner-up behind Beverly Park over this track, distance, and class level on Feb. 18. That effort marked Primal Destiny’s first run since September, so if he steps forward in his second start off the layoff for high-percentage trainer Kevin Patterson (a 41% winner in sprints), Primal Destiny can give Beverly Park a fight.

Race 8: $5,000 Claiming (6 1/2 furlongs)

The finale is arguably the toughest leg of the Pick 6 sequence. The consistent claimer #7 Devilish Beauty (2-1) has cracked the trifecta in 10 of her last 11 starts at Charles Town, including a runner-up effort over this track, distance, and class level on March 11. But in terms of Brisnet Speed ratings, others have run faster.

For backup, we’ll use #1 Courageous Grace (6-1), #3 Naitaka (5-1), #4 Tiz Michelle’s Way (7-2), #8 Tonala (9-2), and #9 Wild Cappucino (15-1).

  • 20-cent Pick 6: 1,7 with 2,5 with 3,4,5,8 with 3 with 1,8 with 1,3,4,7,8,9 ($38.40)

Good luck!