Keeler Johnson's picks and plays April 22

Profile Picture: J. Keeler Johnson

April 22nd, 2022

Handicapper J. Keeler Johnson shares picks and plays for Friday, April 22 at Gulfstream Park and Keeneland, plus tickets for the $7,771 Super High 5 carryover at Golden Gate Fields.

Today’s special offers from TwinSpires include:

  • Scandinavian Bet Back: Receive refunds on win bets (up to $10) if your horse finishes second in any race at Rattvik (SWE), Odense (SWE), Aby (SWE), or Kalmar (SWE).
  • 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

Gulfstream Park Race 2: Maiden Special Weight (4 1/2 furlongs, 1:37 p.m. ET)

#2 Zelenskyy Strong (5-2) has the pedigree to win from an early age. Sire Uncaptured won five stakes at age two, while dam Deposit Only went 2-for-2 as a juvenile and previously foaled the two-year-old stakes winner Jackson.

Zelenskyy Strong has also shown promise in the mornings at Gulfstream Park, most recently breezing half a mile in :49 4/5. He looks ready to roll on debut.

#1 Kohaku (3-1) can complete the exacta for trainer Jorge Delgado, a 22% winner with first-time starters.

  • $20 to win on #2 Zelenskyy Strong.
  • $5 Exacta: 2 with 1
    Total: $25

Keeneland: Race 7: Maiden Special Weight (1 1/16 miles, 4:12 p.m. ET)

Triple Crown nominee #11 Stay Restless (4-1) owns the highest Brisnet Speed rating in this field of three-year-old maidens, having posted a 93 when second in his debut sprinting six furlongs at Gulfstream Park.

Stay Restless subsequently regressed to an 85 when finishing fourth at the same track, distance, and class level on March 12, but he’s eligible to bounce back while stretching out over 1 1/16 miles at Keeneland. As a son of Belmont S. (G1) winner Empire Maker, Stay Restless is bred to run long, and trainer Todd Pletcher wins at a 24% rate with horses making their route debuts.

#12 Afjan (5-1), twice placed racing around two turns at Tampa Bay Downs, can battle with #6 Aussie Pride (4-1) to complete the exacta.

  • $20 to win on #11 Stay Restless
  • $5 Exacta: 11 with 6,12 ($10)
    Total: $30

Keeneland: Race 9: Doubledogdare S. (G3, 1 1/16 miles, 5:16 p.m. ET)

Reigning champion three-year-old filly #1 Malathaat (4-5) was a force to reckon with last season, producing determined rallies to win the Ashland S. (G1), Kentucky Oaks (G1), and Alabama S. (G1). She ended the season with a close third-place finish against older rivals in the Breeders’ Cup Distaff (G1), beaten only half a length with a career-best 108 Brisnet Speed rating.

Malathaat has trained forwardly for her four-year-old debut and should be ready to roll off the layoff. She’s facing only five rivals, but the field contains a couple of tried-and-true speed horses, so there should be enough pace to enhance Malathaat’s late charge.

Defending Doubledogdare winner #4 Bonny South (8-5) can round out the exacta over three-time graded stakes winner #5 Crazy Beautiful (6-1), who recently won the Latonia S. over the Tapeta track at Turfway Park.

  • $25 Exacta: 1 with 4
  • $10 Trifecta: 1 with 4 with 5
    Total: $35

Carryover Watch

Golden Gate Fields, Race 5: $7,771 Super High 5 carryover (5:07 p.m. ET)

If you want to win a share of Friday’s $7,771 Super High 5 carryover at Golden Gate Fields, be forewarned—it won’t be easy.

The prize pool for the $1 wager is available in Race 5, a $12,500 claimer for fillies and mares who have never won two races. The distance is one mile on turf, but five of the eight entrants have yet to win on turf, and the majority have spent more time racing over synthetic tracks (like the Tapeta surface at Golden Gate Fields) than grass.

That’s bound to make handicapping tricky. For example, the stakes-experienced #8 Tura Lura (3-1) is a logical contender after using her early speed to finish third and fifth in a pair of $50,000 starter allowances over the Golden Gate Tapeta. But the four-year-old filly has only run once on grass, finishing off the board in her debut sprinting five furlongs in Sept. 2020.

On the bright side, Tura Lura was only beaten 3 1/2 lengths in her turf start while gaining plenty of ground down the homestretch. The longer distance of Friday’s test is bound to help her chances, and the fact she’s a sibling to a pair of turf winners is encouraging. Throw in the fact trainer Tim McCanna has maintained a 24% win rate at Golden Gate Fields this meet, and Tura Lura—despite her uninspiring turf form at first glance—offers plenty of appeal under hot jockey Assael Espinoza.

Who are the other logical contenders? #7 Liam’s Secret (7-2) has never won on turf, but she’s hit the board in five straight synthetic races over this class level, so a top-five finish is certainly within reach. And former Southern California competitor #5 Starship Endeavor (9-2) is another appealing choice, considering she wired a $20,000-$18,000 maiden claimer over the Golden Gate turf course last month.

One higher-priced entrant worth considering is #1 Dance Lady (8-1). She never fired in a $25,000 claimer sprinting six furlongs over the Golden Gate Tapeta last month, finishing last of seven. But that was her first start off a one-year layoff, and she’d previously broken her maiden in a $30,000 maiden optional claimer racing 7 1/2 furlongs over the Turf Paradise grass course. It’s possible Dance Lady will bounce back while returning to turf, stretching back out in distance, and dropping in class for hot trainer Andy Mathis.

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

  • $1 Super High 5: 8 with 5,7 with 5,7 with 1,2,3 with ALL ($24)
  • $1 Super High 5: 8 with 5,7 with 1,2,3 with 5,7 with ALL ($24)
    Total: $48

Good luck!