Keeler Johnson's picks and plays for April 21

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April 21st, 2021

Handicapper J. Keeler Johnson shares his picks and plays for Wednesday, April 21 at Indiana Grand and Turf Paradise, along with thoughts on a pair of enticing non-jackpot carryovers at Indiana Grand and Keeneland.

Today’s promotional offers from TwinSpires include the Midweek Bet Back and the Build Your Indiana Derby Day Bankroll. Check out the TwinSpires Offers page for more details.

Picks and plays

Indiana Grand, Race 1: $5,000 claiming (five furlongs, 2:25 p.m. ET)

Did you know 45% of five-furlong dirt sprints at Indiana Grand are won in gate-to-wire fashion? Speed excels in these abbreviated sprints, which is why we’re going to take a shot with #3 Marina Night (10-1) in the Tuesday opener.

Marina Night has been beaten by double-digit margins in eight of her nine starts, but the daughter of Flat Out has faced tougher company and flashed excellent tactical speed. Last summer, she led all the way to win a 5 1/2-furlong, $10,000 maiden claiming race over the Ellis Park turf course, fir a 66 Brisnet Speed rating.

Marina Night looks like a live longshot at 10-1. We’ll bet her to win and play her in an exacta, on top of logical favorite #2 Jump Right In (6-5), who finished second over this track and class level last fall.

$20 to win on #3 Marina Night
$5 exacta: 3 with 2
Total: $25

Turf Paradise, Race 7: $3,500 maiden claiming (one mile, 7:28 p.m. ET)

#3 Lis La Victoire (5-2) has faced much tougher company than she’ll encounter Wednesday.

Two starts back, she rallied to finish third for a $7,500 claiming tag sprinting 5 1/2 furlongs at Turf Paradise. And last time out, she employed tracking tactics to finish sixth in a $30,000 optional-claiming maiden event at one mile over the Turf Paradise turf.

The drop to the $3,500 claiming level should make Lis La Victoire tough to beat, especially at a mile on dirt. Trainer Jose Silva Jr. wins at a 23% rate in route races and at a 31% rate with horses who switch from turf to dirt.

The consistent #2 Mesange (9-2), who hasn’t missed the board in her last nine starts, is a logical contender to key for second and third place in the trifecta. But our main wager will be a $10 win bet on Lis La Victoire, to capitalize on the Midweek Bet Back promotion.

$10 to win on #3 Lis La Victoire
$1.50 trifecta: 3 with 2 with 1,6,9,10 ($6)
$1 trifecta: 3 with 1,6,9,10 with 2 ($4)
Total: $20

Turf Paradise, Race 8: Allowance/optional claiming (six furlongs, 7:56 p.m. ET)

There’s a lot of speed in this six-furlong sprint, which could be problematic for morning-line favorite #7 Foxrun (5-2). The son of Oxbow will be a popular play, after two straight wins at Turf Paradise, including a 5 1/2-furlong optional-claiming allowance March 31. But if he gets caught up in an intense speed duel, the outcome may be different.

That’s why I’m keen to support #2 Arabian Story (4-1), who was beaten a neck for a $16,000 claiming tag at Turf Paradise nine days ago. That effort followed a sharp victory in a six-furlong optional-claiming allowance at Turf Paradise, which Arabian Story won by 2 1/4 lengths.

Arabian Story’s stretch-running style should be a perfect fit for Wednesday’s race. A $10 win bet is in order (to take advantage of the Midweek Bet Back promotion), but we’ll also play Arabian Story in a cold exacta, over Foxrun.

$10 to win on #2 Arabian Story
$10 exacta: 2 with 7
Total: $20

Carryover watch

Keeneland, Race 3: $66,284 Pick 6 carryover

Chasing jackpot-style Pick 6 carryovers is fun, but once in a while, it’s nice to take aim at a traditional Pick 6 carryover. Knowing the entire pool will be dispersed among winning bettors (no unique winning ticket required) ensures carryovers like these are valuable betting propositions. Essentially, you’re playing for free money.

Keeneland is one of the few tracks that still offers a traditional Pick 6, and when racing resumes Wednesday, the $1 wager will feature a carryover of $66,284.

The sequence kicks off in the third race, the first division of a maiden special weight for three-year-olds at a mile over the turf course.

Many bettors will place their faith in #10 Realm of Law (3-1), a well-bred son of War Front trained by Chad Brown. The Juddmonte Farms homebred hasn’t run since he finished third in a six-furlong maiden sprint at Belmont in September, but Brown strikes at a 29% rate with horses returning from layoffs, and the top two finishers from Realm of Law’s debut (Second of July and Fighting Force) have since proven to be stakes competitors.

If you’re looking for a single, Realm of Law might be the one.

The second division of this maiden special weight comes in the fifth race, which drew a full field.

#7 Pregame (3-1) could start as the favorite, after he employed tracking tactics to finish third in a 1 1/16-mile grass maiden race at Gulfstream for trainer Rusty Arnold, who has four wins from 13 starts (31%) at Keeneland this spring.

But Pregame is far from a standout. #3 Snow House (7-2) will receive plenty of play for  trainer Brad Cox (who has won at a 36% rate at Keeneland this meet), and #12 King of Miami (4-1) is eligible to take a step forward in his first start as a gelding for Keeneland’s leading trainer, Wesley Ward. Spreading deep may be the key to surviving.

The Pick 6 concludes in the eighth race, a 5 1/2-furlong, $30,000 maiden claiming event for fillies and mares. Handicapping the event might be as simple as betting the Ward trainees, #1 Fine Prospecture (7-2) and #11 Tesorina (9-2). The latter finished second over this track and class level last fall, while the former will make her racing debut. Ward wins at a 32% rate with horses who debut in maiden claiming races.

Indiana Grand, Race 5: $44,093 Pick 5 carryover

There are 44,093 reasons to play the Pick 5 carryover Wednesday at Indiana Grand.

The 50-cent wager features a low takeout rate of 11.99% and splits the full pool among all winning bettors, so you’ll be hard-pressed to find better wagering value anywhere in the country Wednesday.

Need help constructing your ticket? We recommend singling #1 Blueridge Mountain (6-5) in Race 5, the opening leg of the sequence. The son of Tapizar has won two of his three starts at Fair Grounds since he was claimed by trainer Tom Amoss, who has won with 32% of his dirt starters at Indiana Grand since 2016. Blueridge Mountain looks tough to beat at a short price.

Good luck!