Keeler Johnson's picks and plays for April 9

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April 9th, 2021

Handicapper J. Keeler Johnson shares his picks and plays for Friday, April 9, including tickets for the Limestone Turf Sprint S. at Keeneland and horses to favor in the $50,324 Pick 5 carryover at Fonner Park.

Picks and plays

Keeneland, Race 1: $40,000 maiden claiming (six furlongs, 1:05 p.m. ET)

If you’re looking for a logical winner to start the day, look no further than #6 Epicurean (9-5) in the Keeneland opener.

Trained by Wesley Ward, Epicurean recently returned from a layoff to finish third in a $50,000 maiden claiming sprint at Gulfstream Park, where she was beaten 5 1/2 lengths, after she pressed the early pace.

This effort produced a respectable 74 Brisnet Speed rating, the highest figure in Friday’s field. After a break from post 6, under three-time champion jockey Irad Ortiz Jr., Epicurean should be able to get a perfect trip, setting or stalking the pace, before she rolls to victory in her second start of the season.

The first-time starter #1 Predetermined (5-1) can complete the exacta for trainer Ben Colebrook, who is undefeated in three starts at the Keeneland spring meet.

$25 to win on #6 Epicurean
$5 exacta: 6 with 1
Total: $30

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

#1 Editor At Large (5-2) looks like a standout in this two-turn allowance for sophomore fillies.

Trained by Chad Brown, who excels with fillies and mares on turf, Editor At Large showed plenty of promise as a juvenile. After she won her debut racing 1 1/16 miles at Saratoga, Editor At Large came back to finish third in the Miss Grillo (G2) and seventh in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf (G1) against tougher competition than she’ll encounter at Keeneland.

Brown wins at a 30% rate with horses returning from layoffs of 90 days or more, and Ortiz (a 32% winner when he teams up with Brown) is named to ride.

I have my doubts whether Editor At Large’s 5-2 morning line odds will hold up, but if they do, we’ll play her confidently to win and bet her over #2 Stunning Princess (4-1), #6 Mrs. O’Connell (12-1), and #7 Viburnum (12-1) in the exacta and trifecta.

$15 to win on #6 Shesgotattitude
$3 exacta: 1 with 2,6,7 ($12)
50-cent trifecta: 1 with 2,6,7 with 2,6,7 ($3)
Total: $30

Keeneland, Race 7: Limestone Turf Sprint S. (5 1/2 furlongs on turf, 4:24 p.m. ET)

I have no reason to believe #8 Campanelle (8-5) won’t fire a big shot in her sophomore debut.

Trained by Ward, Campanelle went undefeated in three starts sprinting last season. She dominated her debut at Gulfstream Park, then won the Queen Mary (G2) at Royal Ascot and the Prix Morny (G1) at Deauville. Her lone defeat came when she stretched out over a mile in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf (G1), where she weakened to finish fourth.

But there is plenty of speed in this 5 1/2-furlong dash, so Campanelle is unlikely to shake loose on an easy lead. If she shows any signs of rust off the layoff, #7 Tobys Heart (6-1) can steal the show.

The Brian Lynch trainee was a stretch-running sensation in two starts over 5 1/2 furlongs last year. After she roared to a 6 3/4-length debut win at Churchill Downs, Tobys Heart came right back to win the Bolton Landing S. at Saratoga, where she rallied fast to defeat a deep field.

Tobys Heart faltered in her return from a layoff in the Feb. 27 Herecomesthebride (G3) over 1 1/16 miles at Gulfstream, where she weakened to finish sixth, but Lynch wins at a 20% rate with horses running back for the second time off a layoff, and Tobys Heart should relish the cut back to 5 1/2 furlongs.

For all these reasons, I’m keen to bet Tobys Heart to win and play her over Campanelle in a cold exacta.

$20 to win on #7 Tobys Heart
$10 exacta: 7 with 8
Total: $30

Carryover watch

Fonner Park, $50,324 Pick 5 jackpot

It’s time to start thinking about betting the 50-cent Dinsdale Automotive Pick 5 on a regular basis.

The jackpot carryover pool has surpassed $50,000 for Friday’s card, and consolation payoffs can be solid on days when chalk prevails. Last Saturday, for example, every winner in the Pick 5 started at 4-1 or less, yet the payoff was $336.10, far better than the $199.97 generated by a theoretical $2 win parlay.

Friday’s Pick 5 sequence looks competitive, with 45 horses (nine per race) in the mix, but that doesn’t necessarily mean the results will be predictable. To the contrary, a couple legs look straightforward.

Race 5: $2,500 claiming (6 1/2 furlongs, 5:40 p.m. ET)

The Pick 5 kicks off in Race 5, a low-level claimer for horses who haven’t won a race in 2021.

The speedy frontrunner #1 Wild Drive (2-1) looks tough to catch on the drop in class for hot jockey/trainer duo Jake Olesiak and David Anderson. But #3 All for Truth (3-1) has run faster on the Brisnet Speed rating scale and looms as a dangerous challenger, as he will stretch out off a pair of half-mile prep races at Fonner.

Race 8: $10,000 allowance/optional claiming (six furlongs, 6:55 p.m. ET)

#7 Goodnightloving (5-2) is the fastest runner in terms of recent Brisnet Speed ratings, with three straight figures between 78 and 84 at Fonner this season.

The son of Fed Biz romped by three lengths in a $5,000 starter allowance March 26 and looms as a logical single for Olesiak and Anderson.

Race 9: $5,000 claiming (one mile and 70 yards, 7:20 p.m. ET)

There is a staggering lack of speed entered in this two-turn claiming event, so whoever winds up on the lead is bound to have an advantage. The most likely candidate is #3 Catale Cole Man, who won a six-furlong, $5,000 claiming sprint Feb. 21 at Fonner.

But Catale Cole Man has never run farther than 6 1/2 furlongs, so if he falters over Friday’s longer trip, #6 Miner’s Notion (6-1) can capitalize.

Although generally a late runner, Miner’s Notion showed pace-tracking speed two starts back to finish second in a $4,000 claiming race at Arapahoe Park. The son of Mineshaft recently returned from a long layoff to finish fourth in a six-furlong sprint at Fonner and is eligible to take a step forward on the stretch out in distance.

Good luck!