Keeler Johnson's picks and plays April 20

Profile Picture: J. Keeler Johnson

April 20th, 2022

Handicapper J. Keeler Johnson shares picks and plays for Wednesday, April 20 at Keeneland and Horseshoe Indianapolis, including tickets for Keeneland’s $38,853 Super High 5 carryover.

Today’s special offers from TwinSpires include:

  • Midweek Bet Back: Receive refunds on win bets (up to $10) if your horse finishes second in select races at Keeneland.
  • Rest of the World Bet Back: Receive refunds on win bets (up to $10) if your horse finishes second in any race at Happy Valley (Hong Kong).
  • Scandinavian Bet Back: Receive refunds on win bets (up to $10) if your horse finishes second in any race at Bro Park (SWE), Solvalla (SWE), or Bergsaker (SWE).
  • $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.
  • Horseshoe Indianapolis Opening Week Bet Back: Receive refunds on win bets (up to $10) if your horse finishes second in any race at Horseshoe Indianapolis.

Picks and Plays

Keeneland: Race 4: Maiden Special Weight (4 1/2 furlongs, 2:36 p.m. ET)

Trainer Wesley Ward is known for saddling ready-to-win first-time starters in these early-season juvenile sprints at Keeneland, and his record with all starters this meet stands at an impressive 7-for-23 (30%). For these reasons, #6 Talkin Pharoah (3-1) looms as the horse to beat in this 4 1/2-furlong dash.

A son of Triple Crown winner American Pharoah, Talkin Pharoah sold for $260,000 as a yearling and has posted five timed workouts in preparation for his debut. Hot jockey Irad Ortiz (a 36% winner teaming up with Ward over the last two months) is named to ride, so let’s bet Talkin Pharoah to win and key him over #7 Baytown Get It On (8-1), #8 Magic Tap (6-1), and #13 Tasterfor the King (5-1) in the exacta.

  • $18 to win on #6 Talkin Pharoah
  • $4 Exacta: 6 with 7,8,13 ($12)
    Total: $30

Keeneland: Race 7: Allowance (1 1/16 miles on turf, 4:12 p.m. ET)

The delicate #7 Greyes Creek (8-1) hasn’t run since finishing eighth with a bad trip in the Jaipur S. (G1) at Belmont Park last June, but he was only beaten 4 1/4 lengths despite having nowhere to run down the homestretch.

It’s been a while since Greyes Creek last visited the winner’s circle, but he’s capable of producing a strong turn-of-foot on his best day, as he demonstrated when unleashing a dramatic stretch bid to win a one-mile Keeneland allowance during the summer of 2020. Trainer Paulo Lobo wins at a respectable 15% rate with horses returning from long layoffs, so Greyes Creek is eligible to fire a strong shot and potentially vie for victory at enticing odds.

Taking advantage of the Midweek Bet Back offer, we’ll place a $10 win bet on Greyes Creek, then add #8 Invader (8-1) to the bottom of an ambitious exacta.

  • $10 to win on #7 Greyes Creek
  • $5 Exacta: 7 with 8
    Total: $15

Horseshoe Indianapolis: Race 6: Allowance (5 1/2 furlongs, 5:00 p.m. ET)

#3 Kaely’s Sister (7-2) is a neck away from riding a three-race win streak for high-percentage trainer Brad Cox. After dominating a $50,000 claimer at Keeneland by 10 3/4 lengths over a next-out winner, Kaely’s Sister finished second by a neck in a $50,000 starter allowance at Churchill Downs before winning a similar race at Saratoga by seven lengths.

Kaely’s Sister hasn’t run since July, but she’s turned in a steady string of workouts in preparation for her return, and Cox wins at a 24% rate with horses returning from long layoffs. In terms of Brisnet Speed ratings, Kaely’s Sister is easily the fastest horse in Wednesday’s field, so anything close to her A-game should be sufficient to deliver victory.

#1 Wellington Wonder (3-1) and #10 Bellarific (12-1) can battle for exacta honors, but our first play will be a $10 win bet on Kaely’s Sister, in order to capitalize on the Horseshoe Indianapolis Opening Week Bet Back offer.

  • $10 to win on #3 Kaely’s Sister
  • $5 Exacta: 3 with 1,10 ($10)
  • Total: $20

Carryover Watch

Keeneland, Race 8: $38,853 Super High 5 carryover (4:44 p.m. ET)

If you want to win a share of Wednesday’s $38,853 Super High 5 carryover at Keeneland, you’ll have to decipher one of the most challenging races on the card.

The prize pool for the $1 wager is available in Race 8, a $20,000 maiden claimer for three-year-olds sprinting six furlongs over the main track. The race has drawn 11 entries, which equates to 55,440 possible outcomes. Three of the horses have never raced, and the experienced runners are difficult to separate.

In terms of Brisnet Speed ratings and proven class, three short-priced runners might hold a slight advantage over the rest. #4 Lapis Lazuli (4-1) has competed exclusively against maiden special weight company on dirt and turf at Fair Grounds, hitting the board in two of his three starts while posting Brisnet Speed ratings in the 71-73 range. #8 Art Heist (7-2) and #9 Lunar Rocket (4-1) are likewise dropping from maiden special weight to maiden claiming company after hitting the board multiple times with Brisnet Speed ratings consistently above the 70 mark.

Art Heist has run fastest of all, throwing down an 85 when finishing second in his debut sprinting six furlongs at Churchill Downs last November. But his form has slipped since then, so we’ll have to hope descending in class and dropping blinkers can trigger a turnaround under hot jockey Tyler Gaffalione.

#11 Hearns (6-1) is another viable contender after finishing second by less than a length in a $15,000 maiden claimer over the Tapeta track at Turfway Park, earning a solid 75 Brisnet Speed rating. Hearns has tactical speed and is eligible to step forward while switching to dirt, opening the door for a competitive showing even while facing tougher company.

#5 Fully Connected (5-1) was beaten eight lengths in a $50,000 maiden claimer over the Fair Grounds turf course last month. But two starts back, he ran third over the same class level on dirt, beaten only a length after setting the pace. His reward was a competitive 75 Brisnet Speed rating.

#7 Isthmian (12-1) is purely a late runner, but his four dirt runs at higher class levels have produced solid Brisnet Speed ratings in the 72-74 range. And if you want to include a significant longshot on your tickets, why not try the first-time starter #10 Right of Rush (20-1)? He’s shown some speed in the mornings and is nominated to the Triple Crown, suggesting he has a chance to factor on debut.

Here’s how we’ll bet the Super High 5:

  • $1 Super High 5: 8,9 with 4,8,9 with 4,8,9 with 5,7,11 with 5,7,10,11 ($36)
  • $1 Super High 5: 8,9 with 4,8,9 with 5,7,11 with 4,8,9 with 5,7,10,11 ($36)
    Total: $72

Good luck!