Keeler Johnson's picks and plays for April 15

Profile Picture: J. Keeler Johnson

April 15th, 2021

Handicapper J. Keeler Johnson shares his picks and plays for Thursday, April 15 at Keeneland and Oaklawn Park, including a ticket for Keeneland’s $27,386 Super High Five carryover.

Picks and plays

Keeneland, Race 5: Allowance (1 1/16 miles on turf, 3:18 p.m. ET)

#11 Greyes Creek (7-2) didn’t get the best of trips when he finished fifth in the Feb. 6 Tampa Bay S. (G3) at Tampa Bay Downs. Caught wide and closer to a hot pace than usual, Greyes Creek tried to challenge around the final turn, but ultimately flattened out to finish fifth, 2 1/2 lengths behind the winner.

Greyes Creek had previously won three straight races (including a one-mile allowance at Keeneland) with powerful late rallies. On all three occasions, the Chad Brown trainee was ridden by Tyler Gaffalione, who will regain the mount Thursday. A more favorable trip against easier competition can send Greyes Creek back to the winner’s circle at a fair price.

We’ll place a large win bet on Greyes Creek, then play him over #4 Spanish Kingdom (15-1) in a small exacta.

$25 to win on #11 Greyes Creek
$5 exacta: 11 with 4
Total: $30

Oaklawn Park, Race 3: $10,000 maiden claiming (one mile, 3:02 p.m. ET)

#2 Epic Adventure (7-2) has been competing admirably against tougher competition at Oaklawn.

Second by a neck for a $20,000 claiming tag and third in a $30,000 maiden claiming race, a drop down to the $10,000 level should make Epic Adventure dangerous for trainer Greg Compton, whose last four starters to drop down multiple claiming levels all won or finished in the money.

Epic Adventure has plenty of tactical speed and will add blinkers Thursday, so expect the son of Street Sense to employ pacesetting tactics. In a race that isn’t stuffed with speed, this strategy can carry Epic Adventure to victory over #6 Chicago Chrome (2-1) and #7 Gainer (9-2), who are likewise stepping down out of tougher races.

Taking advantage of the TwinSpires Midweek Bet Back promotion, we’ll place a $10 win bet on Epic Adventure and get our money back if he finishes second. Then we’ll play him on top in the exacta and trifecta.

$10 to win on #2 Epic Adventure
$5 exacta: 2 with 6,7 ($10)
$2.50 trifecta: 2 with 6,7 with 6,7 ($5)
Total: $25

Oaklawn Park, Race 8: Allowance/optional claiming (1 1/16 miles, 5:40 p.m. ET)

#6 Plainsman (5-2) hasn’t visited the winner’s circle since he nabbed the 2018 Discovery S. (G3), but the six-year-old son of Flatter seems to be rounding back into form for high-percentage trainer Brad Cox.

Plainsman faltered when he stretched out over 1 1/2 miles in the Temperence Hill S. last month, but two starts back, he finished second in a one-mile allowance at Oaklawn, where he was beaten just a length by the Grade 1-placed Snapper Sinclair.

Plainsman has plenty of tactical speed and should be prominent from the outset on a cut back to a more favorable distance. One more step forward can deliver him the victory, over #3 My Sixth Sense (2-1) and #4 Chris and Dave (7-2).

Pursuing the Midweek Bet Back offer, we’ll place a $10 win bet on Plainsman, then play him over his logical rivals in the exacta.

$10 to win on #6 Plainsman
$5 exacta: 6 with 3,4 ($10)
Total: $20

Carryover watch

Keeneland, Race 1: $27,386 Super High Five Jackpot

The carryover for Keeneland’s jackpot-style Super High Five is up to $27,386 for Thursday’s card. The 50-cent wager is available to play in all races with seven or more betting interests, and the jackpot carries over until one bettor manages to construct a unique winning ticket.

The first opportunity to play the Super High Five comes in Race 1, a 4 1/2-furlong maiden special weight for juvenile fillies. Since 2018, trainer Wesley Ward has gone won 19 of his 33 starts (58%) in Keeneland’s spring sprints for two year olds, which suggests Ward’s fillies #5 Averly Jane (2-1) and #9 Texas Tiara (5-2) are the ones to beat.

I prefer Averly Jane, a daughter of 2008 champion two year old Midshipman, out of Sh Sh Shakin’, who has already foaled a stakes-winning juvenile. Jockey Joel Rosario (who has four wins from 10 starts for Ward at Keeneland this meet) is slated to ride Averly Jane, who showed speed when she breezed three furlongs from the Keeneland starting gate in :34 4/5 last week.

Underneath, we’ll emphasize Texas Tiara, but we’ll also play around with #2 Royal County (5-1), who got bumped around significantly at the start of her April 2 debut at Keeneland. A sharp break is critical for success in these abbreviated sprints, so Royal County never had a fair chance to challenge. She ultimately finished fifth and can improve Thursday with jockey Luis Saez, a 30% winner at Keeneland. Trainer John Ennis has already saddled a pair of juvenile winners at Keeneland this meet.

For fourth place (and even third on one ticket), we’ll spread deep, with #1 Van Sickle (15-1), #3 Our Lady Nelson (4-1), #6 She’s a Fast One (10-1), and #8 Alia Max (12-1). The latter in particular offers appeal, since trainer Travis Murphy wins at a solid 19% rate with first-time starters.

Finally, we’ll hit the “ALL” button for fifth place.

50-cent Super High 5: 5 with 9 with 2 with 1,3,6,8 with ALL ($10)
50-cent Super High 5: 5 with 9 with 1,3,6,8 with 2 with ALL ($10)
50-cent Super High 5: 5 with 2 with 9 with 1,3,6,8 with ALL ($10)
Total: $30

Good luck!