Keeler Johnson's picks and plays for April 25

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April 25th, 2022

Handicapper J. Keeler Johnson shares picks and plays for Monday, April 25 at Thistledown, Parx Racing, and Turf Paradise, plus a ticket for the $2,996 Super High 5 carryover at Mountaineer.

Picks and Plays

Thistledown: Race 2: Maiden Special Weight (5 1/2 furlongs, 1:20 p.m. ET)

#6 Ashleys Cupcake (8-5) hasn’t missed the trifecta in four starts, including a close runner-up effort in the six-furlong Emerald Necklace S. at Thistledown last fall. She consistently puts up competitive Brisnet Speed ratings and has enough tactical speed to be prominent from the outset, setting the stage for a winning effort while cutting back to 5 1/2 furlongs.

#1 Tv Tiz Gorgeous (12-1), #3 Late Date (3-1), and #4 Kleona (2-1) can battle for places in the trifecta.

  • $5 Trifecta: 6 with 1,3,4 with 1,3,4 ($30)

Turf Paradise: Race 2: $50,000 Allowance Optional Claiming (six furlongs, 4:55 p.m. ET)

#5 Slaats (2-1) has hit the board a couple of times against stakes competition and relished dropping in class for a $75,000 allowance optional claimer sprinting six furlongs at Turf Paradise last month. After tracking the early pace, Slaats took command in the homestretch and drew off to win by 4 1/2 lengths with a career-best 84 Brisnet Speed rating.

Slaats was claimed out of that victory by trainer James Brown, a 25% winner with new claiming acquisitions. Brown also strikes at a lofty 60% rate with horses dropping in class off a victory, so Slaats should be tough to deny while squaring off against $50,000 allowance optional claiming company.

#6 Not That Serious (3-1) and #2 Hoya Paranoya (7-2) can round out the exacta and trifecta.

  • $10 Exacta: 5 with 2,6 ($20)
  • $5 Trifecta: 5 with 2,6 with 2,6 ($10)
  • Total: $30

Parx Racing: Race 10: Unique Bella S. (seven furlongs, 5:06 p.m. ET)

#6 Cinnabunny (7-2) failed to fire in the 6 1/2-furlong Penn’s Landing S. at Parx last month, finishing fourth. But that effort marked Cinnabunny’s first start since September, and she may have been short of peak fitness off the layoff.

Cinnabunny was also squaring off against open competition, whereas Monday’s Unique Bella S. is restricted to Pennsylvania-breds. Two starts back, Cinnabunny was a dominant winner of the unrestricted Flashy Lady S. at Remington Park, and she was beaten less than a length when third in the 2020 Sugar Swirl S. (G3) at Gulfstream Park. Clearly, Cinnabunny can compete against tough competition on her best day, so dropping in class for her second start of the season might be all she needs to rebound.

We’ll bet Cinnabunny to win and key her over the red-hot allowance type #9 Flattering Ruby (6-1) in the exacta.

  • $20 to win on #6 Cinnabunny
  • $10 Exacta: 6 with 9
    Total: $30

Carryover Watch

Mountaineer, Race 8: $2,996 Super High 5 carryover (9:55 p.m. ET)

Many recent Mondays have been quiet on the non-jackpot carryovers front. But thanks to a $2,996 Super High 5 carryover at Mountaineer, we’ll have a fun prize pool to chase on the first day of the week.

The Super High 5 at Mountaineer is generally a $1 wager, though if you’re willing to box your ticket, you can play the wager for 50 cents. The savings offered by boxing are enticing, but we’ll take a more focused approach and favor #4 Summer Load (5-2) on top.

Summer Load finished second in a one-mile heat over this track and class level on Dec. 7, but he ran much faster on the Brisnet Speed rating scale when cutting back in distance for a $5,000 claimer sprinting six furlongs at Mahoning Valley three weeks ago. The four-year-old gelding raced evenly to finish fourth, earning a 67 Brisnet Speed rating that looks rock-solid against Monday’s field.

Summer Load has only run twice this season and is eligible to move forward for trainer Sharon Ceccato, who wins at a 20% rate with horses running back for the third time following a layoff. Throw in hot jockey Angel Diaz (6-for-17, 35% to start the Mountaineer meet), and Summer Load looks like a logical horse to play on top in the Super High 5.

Underneath, we have to consider #2 Masquerade Ball (7-2), who has competed exclusively against tougher competition while earning respectable Brisnet Speed ratings. #5 Tiger Shark (15-1) and #8 Dunn Deal (8-1) are larger prices on the morning line, but both have hit the board multiple times over this track and class level and can do so again on Monday.

#6 Gatorater (2-1) has yet to race at Mountaineer, but he’s cracked the trifecta in three straight sprints against $5,000, $7,500, and $12,500 maiden claiming company at Charles Town. He hasn’t run as fast as Summer Load on paper, but dropping down the class ladder should trigger another competitive showing.

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

  • $1 Super High 5: 4 with 2,6,8 with 2,5,6,8 with 2,5,6,8 with 2,3,5,6,7,8 ($54)

Good luck!