Keeler Johnson’s picks and plays for April 6
Handicapper J. Keeler Johnson shares his picks and plays for Tuesday, April 6 at Mahoning Valley and Turf Paradise, including a trio of $10 win bets capitalizing on the TwinSpires Midweek Bet Back promotion.
Keeler also shares his thoughts on a pair of jackpot Pick 6 carryovers up for grabs.
Picks and plays
Mahoning Valley, Race 2: maiden special weight (one mile, 1:12 p.m. ET)
#1 Enchanted Nile (4-5) looks like a clear standout among the six fillies and mares in this maiden special weight route. Whereas none of her rivals have posted a Brisnet Speed rating higher than 65, Enchanted Nile has posted figures between 67 and 81 in all seven of her starts.
A stoutly bred daughter of Pioneerof the Nile, out of a Malibu Moon mare, Enchanted Nile has already shown promise running long. She finished third in a one-mile, 70-yard maiden special weight at Penn National last fall. The bay filly kicked off 2021 with a third-place effort in a six-furlong maiden special weight at Mahoning in January and should find herself forwardly placed on the stretch back out in distance for her second run of the year.
For good measure, leading jockey Sonny Leon has retained the mount for hot trainer Eric Reed.
Let’s bet Enchanted Nile on top of a straight trifecta, with #3 Nell’s Bells (5-1) and #2 Crypto Cat (5-2) for second and third.
$25 trifecta: 1 with 3 with 2
Turf Paradise, Race 10: $5,000 starter/optional claiming (4 1/2 furlongs, 7:38 p.m. ET)
#8 Quality Line (3-1) has never sprinted as short as 4 1/2 furlongs, and the cut back to this abbreviated distance is a question mark for the eight-year-old veteran. But if current form counts for anything, the son of Quality Road will be difficult to defeat.
Quality Line has won four of his five starts since he transferred to the care of hot trainer Juan Silva. He has won four straight races at Turf Paradise since January, and most recently rallied to victory in a six-furlong sprint at Tuesday’s class level.
Quality Line has enough tactical speed to stay in touch with the leaders, but he is also tractable enough to race off the pace in Tuesday’s speed-laden field. Jockey Alex Cruz (a 31% winner when he teams with Silva) has retained the mount, so let’s bet Quality Line to win and play him over #3 Texas Long Bow (6-1) in a small exacta.
$10 to win on #8 Quality Line
$5 exacta: 8 with 3
Turf Paradise, Race 11: $3,500 Claiming (6 1/2 furlongs, 8:06 p.m. ET)
#5 Union Brother (8-5) is a logical favorite, after he cracked the exacta in his last five starts at Turf Paradise. On March 26, the bay gelding made his second start for trainer Justin Evans and romped by 6 1/2 lengths against marginally easier competition than he’ll face Tuesday.
But don’t sleep on the chances of #9 All in Stew Oui (6-1). The son of Twirling Candy got burned up in a duel for the lead through fast fractions in an $8,500 claiming race March 29, then weakened in the final furlong to finish sixth, 5 1/2 lengths behind the winner.
On his best day, All in Stew Oui has posted slightly faster Brisnet Speed ratings than Union Brother, and there are reasons to believe he’ll improve Tuesday. Trainer James Brown wins at a 28% rate with horses back for the third time off a layoff, and Brown strikes at a 27% rate with horses who drop down two or more class levels.
Let’s place our $10 win bet on All in Stew Oui, then box him in the exacta with Union Brother.
$10 to win on #9 All in Stew Oui
$5 exacta box: 5,9 ($10)
Mahoning Valley: Buckeye Pick 6
Carryover amount: $28,722
Base bet: 20 cents
Sequence starts: Race 3, 1:40 p.m. ET
Number of entries: 57 (9.5 per race)
Small fields aren’t uncommon at Mahoning Valley, but Tuesday’s card presents a different picture, with an average of 9.5 horses entered in the Buckeye Pick 6 races. Considering Monday’s sequence (which featured 40 entries and $20,065 in new wagers) produced only eight winning tickets, it’s not impossible to imagine someone constructing a unique winning ticket Tuesday to take down a ~$50,000 payoff.
Spreading deep with longshots can be expensive, so it’s also helpful to find a logical single or two to keep costs down.
Race 6 on Tuesday provides that opportunity. #5 The Filter (8-5) will face just six rivals and enters off back-to-back runner-up efforts over Tuesday’s six-furlong distance and $7,500 claiming class level. The well-bred son of Candy Ride consistently throws down competitive Brisnet Speed ratings, in the 75-80 range, and figures to get a perfect trip setting or stalking the pace. Any way you slice it, The Filter looks tough to beat.
Turf Paradise: Grand Canyon Pick 6
Carryover amount: $43,967
Base bet: 20 cents
Sequence starts: Race 7, 6:13 p.m. ET
Number of entries: 52 (8.6 per race)
With five fewer entries before scratches, the Grand Canyon Pick 6 at Turf Paradise looks easier to manage than the Buckeye version at Mahoning. The larger carryover pool is also appealing, and the sequence should be winnable on a reasonable budget.
Most of the races appear straightforward to handicap.
Race 8, for example, looks like a two-horse battle, between #4 Vroysky (7-2) and #5 Irish Charlie (5-2), both capable performers at this $8,500 claiming level. Irish Charlie has already beaten Vroysky twice this year and looms as the favorite, but Vroysky — a pure frontrunner — has improved steadily and enters off a game, runner-up effort March 17. One more step forward could land the four-year-old gelding in the winner’s circle.
Race 12, a $6,250 claiming race, also looks logical on paper. Some bettors will single the stretch-running #6 Thorn Hill Cat (9-5), who rallied to a decisive victory at this class level March 22. The stretch out from one mile to 1 1/8 miles shouldn’t be an obstacle, though Thorn Hill Cat could receive a challenge from #1 Lifeline, who enters off two runner-up efforts against tougher company. His recent Brisnet Speed ratings are faster than those posted by Thorn Hill Cat, and trainer Jose Silva Jr. wins at a 22% in turf races, claiming races, and routes.