Keeler Johnson's picks and plays for April 28
Handicapper J. Keeler Johnson shares his picks and plays for Wednesday, April 28 at Churchill Downs, Indiana Grand, and Oaklawn Park, along with a potential single for Churchill’s $9,253 Pick 6 carryover.
Before you place your wagers, be sure to opt in to today’s special offers from TwinSpires, including the Build Your Indiana Derby Day Bankroll, Kentucky Derby Week Money Back, and Midweek Bet Back promotions.
Picks and plays
In a race with virtually no speed on paper, #1 Man On the Moon (7-5) is a logical favorite. The son of Distorted Humor has employed tracking tactics in his last two starts, including when he broke his maiden for a $30,000 claiming tag at Fair Grounds.
Man On the Moon didn’t run badly as the favorite in a $30,000 optional-claiming starter allowance last time out, when he advanced to challenge around the far turn and flattened out to finish fourth by 6 3/4 lengths. The drop down to the $20,000 claiming level can place him in the hunt for victory, especially if he shakes loose on an uncontested lead from post 1. Trainer Al Stall wins at a 35% rate with horses beaten as the favorite in their previous start.
Thanks to the Kentucky Derby Week Money Back offer, we can place a $10 win bet on Man On the Moon and receive a refund if he finishes second.
$10 to win on #1 Man on the Moon
$4 exacta: 1 with 2,4 ($8)
$1 trifecta: 1 with 2,4 with 2,4 ($2)
There is hardly any speed in this one-mile allowance for fillies and mares, so we’ll take a shot with #6 Folly (3-1), who consistently races up and on the pace.
A daughter of Kentucky Derby (G1) winner Super Saver, Folly arrives at Indiana Grand off a blowout victory in a 1 1/16-mile allowance at Charles Town, where she dominated under a hand ride by 7 1/2 lengths. This eye-catching performance produced a competitive 85 Brisnet Speed rating.
Folly also displayed good form on the Kentucky circuit last fall, most notably when she employed pace-tracking tactics to win a $20,000 claiming race at Keeneland.
Folly’s 3-1 morning-line odds seem fair, so let’s bet the dark bay mare to win and play her over #1 Josie (7-5) in a cold exacta.
$20 to win on #6 Folly
$10 exacta: 6 with 1
#3 Berry Good (5-2) ran a big race in her debut over this track and distance 2 1/2 weeks ago. After she settled a few lengths off the early tempo, Berry Good rallied gamely to finish second by a neck.
The 81 Brisnet Speed rating Berry Good received is the highest figure in Wednesday’s field. Trainer McLean Robertson wins at a 29% rate with second-time starters, so there’s a chance Berry Good will improve in her second run under colors. Even better, there are plenty of speed horses in the entries on Wednesday, so Berry Good should receive a suitably quick pace to enhance her late rally.
To capitalize on the Midweek Bet Back offer, we’ll place a $10 win bet on Berry Good, then play her in the exacta, over #2 Miner’s Queen (10-1) and #4 Sianara (2-1).
$10 to win on #3 Berry Good
$5 exacta: 3 with 2,4 ($10)
The Derby City 6 is a bit different from most jackpot-style Pick 6 wagers. Rather than commit a large portion of each day’s pool to growing the carryover, the Derby City 6 splits 90% of the daily pool among winning bettors, which can generate enticing payoffs on a daily basis.
Just check out Tuesday’s results from Churchill Downs. After a 32-1 shot upset Race 6 (an event in which we noted the 9-5 favorite was vulnerable), the Derby City 6 returned $11,716.32. Not bad for a 20-cent wager!
Wednesday’s Derby City 6 gets underway in Race 5, and at first glance, the sequence appears formidable. Excluding also-eligibles, there are 52 betting interests to consider, which equates to 368,640 possible outcomes.
The good news is, you can shrink the number of possible outcomes to 46,080 by singling #4 Averly Jane (8-5) in Race 9, the Kentucky Juvenile S. It might seem unwise to single a filly facing colts in an early season, five-furlong sprint for juveniles, but I believe Averly Jane is a star in the making.
After all, Averly Jane was spectacular in her debut at Keeneland, overcoming a bump at the start to obliterate her rivals by 8 3/4 lengths. She was barely asked for any run at all, yet she crossed the finish line in a snappy :51.84 to earn a 97 Brisnet Speed rating.
None of Averly Jane’s rivals (including five other fillies) have earned a Brisnet Speed rating better than 84, so the favorite has some wiggle room to defeat this field.
Trainer Wesley Ward has mentioned Averly Jane as a candidate to compete at England’s prestigious Royal Ascot meet in June, so she is clearly held in high regard.
Throw in the fact that hot jockey Tyler Gaffalione has picked up the mount, and it’s hard to make a case against Averly Jane. I feel confident singling her at a short price, which allows us to spread deeper in more competitive legs of the Derby City 6.