Keeler Johnson's picks and plays April 15

Profile Picture: J. Keeler Johnson

April 15th, 2022

Handicapper J. Keeler Johnson shares $75 worth of picks and plays for Friday, April 15 at Keeneland and Oaklawn Park, along with tickets for the $12,475 Super High 5 carryover at Santa Anita.

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 Oaklawn 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 select Swedish tracks.
  • Rest of the World Bet Back: Receive refunds on win bets (up to $10) if your horse finishes second in any race at Randwick (Australia).
  • $15,000 Place Jackpot at Keeneland: Place at least six winning $10+ place bets at Keeneland to win your share of a daily $1,000 jackpot.

Picks and Plays

Keeneland: Race 6: $80,000 Allowance Optional Claiming (1 1/16 miles, 3:40 p.m. ET)

2020 Belmont S. (G1) participant #5 Farmington Road (8-1) has been competing primarily on turf since the summer of 2020. But his last two dirt runs have been solid, highlighted by a gate-to-wire win in a $32,000 allowance optional claimer at Tampa Bay Downs last month. After carving out solid splits of :23.24, :46.30, and 1:10.54, Farmington Road kicked away to win by 5 1/4 lengths. His final time of 1:38.69 for one mile and 40 yards missed the track record by 0.01.

Farmington Road will face tougher competition at Keeneland, including several other pace players. But he’s progressing in the right direction and might still have some upside for improvement on dirt, making his 8-1 morning line odds rather enticing.

We’ll place a win bet on Farmington Road, then key him over #6 Concert Tour (2-1) in a small exacta.

  • $15 to win on #5 Farmington Road
  • $5 Exacta: 5 with 6
    Total: $20

Oaklawn Park: Race 7: $50,000 Claiming (six furlongs, 5:04 p.m. ET)

#4 Full Impact (7-2) began his career in promising fashion during the autumn of 2020, wiring a maiden special weight at Monmouth Park before employing pace-tracking tactics to dominate an Aqueduct allowance. Both of Full Impact’s victories were achieved by clear margins, and they produced excellent Brisnet Speed ratings of 93 and 97.

Full Impact subsequently spent more than a year on the sidelines, and he failed to fire when returning in a $50,000 allowance optional claimer on Jan. 2 at Oaklawn, finishing last. But Full Impact has put together an encouraging work tab since then and is eligible to bounce back in his second start for hot trainer Brad Cox, who strikes at a 25% rate with runners making their first start for a claiming tag.

The speedy #9 Wild for Wycliff (5-1), fresh off a pair of gate-to-wire wins against easier company at Fair Grounds, can battle with #6 Big Thorn (8-1) to complete the exacta.

  • $12 to win on #4 Full Impact
  • $4 Exacta: 4 with 6,9 ($8)
    Total: $20

Keeneland: Race 10: Maiden Special Weight (six furlongs, 5:48 p.m. ET)

First-time starter #6 Regal Realm (5-1) looks ready to fire a strong shot for trainer Jonathan Thomas, who wins at an excellent 20% rate with horses debuting in maiden special weights. Have you seen Regal Realm’s work tab? On March 30, she clocked a bullet half-mile from the Payson Park starting gate in :47 flat, a remarkably quick time over the typically slow Payson dirt track.

The speed Regal Realm has shown at Payson bodes well for her chances at Keeneland. Throw in the fact she’ll be ridden by Luis Saez, who has gone 6-for-12 teaming up with Thomas over the last two months, and Regal Realm looks like a solid win play at 5-1.

#5 Dontgetabovuraisin (5-1) can complete the exacta.

  • $30 to win on #6 Regal Realm
  • $5 Exacta: 6 with 5
    Total: $35

Carryover Watch

Santa Anita, Race 3: $12,475 Super High 5 carryover (5:07 p.m. ET)

If you’re a fan of five-figure, non-jackpot carryovers, then you’ll want to pursue Friday’s $12,475 Super High 5 carryover at Santa Anita. Just be aware, winning a share of the prize pool requires deciphering a practically indecipherable race.

The carryover for the $1 wager is up for grabs in Race 3, a maiden special weight for California-bred fillies and mares sprinting 5 1/2 furlongs on dirt. Eight horses have been entered, but four of them are unraced fillies debuting for trainers who win less than 10% of the time with first-time starters. The bare stats suggest we shouldn’t lean too heavily on them, but with only four experienced runners in the race, we’ll have to use at least one in the Super High 5. The question is, which one(s)?

The most promising of the debuting fillies might be #3 Smiling Molly (8-1), who has turned in a steady string of quick workouts at Santa Anita. Last Thursday, she clocked a bullet five furlongs in 1:00, suggesting she has some speed and ability. Sire Smiling Tiger was a classy sprinter who sires 12% winners from first-time starters, and Smiling Molly will benefit from a seven-pound weight allowance courtesy of apprentice jockey Emily Ellingwood.

Truthfully, Smiling Molly might be capable of vying for victory on Friday. The par winning Brisnet Speed rating for this track, distance, and class level is 84, a figure none of the experienced entrants have reached. #5 Square Not (5-2) came closest when finishing third in her debut at Santa Anita last month, earning a 78. But the five-year-old daughter of Square Eddie is switching from turf to dirt and isn’t guaranteed to repeat the figure on a different surface.

#6 Sapadilla (4-1) and #4 Anna’s Music (7-2) might be more trustworthy after finishing second and third in a six-furlong dash over this track and class level on March 18, but they were beaten 8 1/2 lengths by the winner while posting modest Brisnet Speed ratings of 76 and 75. And while #8 Tracy Di Vicenzo (5-1) ran well over this precise track and distance in her Feb. 27 debut (finishing second behind a next-out winner), the race in question was a $20,000 claimer, and Tracy Di Vicenzo was beaten 6 1/2 lengths with a 71 Brisnet Speed rating.

So how should we bet the Super High 5? We’ll start by boldly keying Smiling Molly on top of our tickets. Then we’ll count on both Sapadilla and Anna’s Music to finish in the top five before spreading deeper for the remaining slots.

  • $1 Super High 5: 3 with 4,6 with 4,6 with 5,8 with ALL ($16)
  • $1 Super High 5: 3 with 4,6 with 5,8 with 4,6 with ALL ($16)
  • $1 Super High 5: 3 with 4,6 with 5,8 with ALL with 4,6 ($16)
  • $1 Super High 5: 3 with 4,6 with 4,6 with ALL with 5,8 ($16)
    Total: $64

Good luck!