Keeler Johnson's picks and plays for July 29

Profile Picture: J. Keeler Johnson

July 29th, 2021

Handicapper J. Keeler Johnson shares picks and plays for Thursday, July 29 at Saratoga and Canterbury Park, along with suggested singles for a pair of non-jackpot carryovers at Arlington Park.

Today’s special offers from TwinSpires include:

  • Midweek Bet Back: Receive refunds on win bets (up to $10) if your horse finishes second in select races at Arlington Park and Canterbury Park.
  • Rest of the World Bet Back: Receive refunds on win bets (up to $10) if your horse finishes second in any race at Galway (Ireland).
  • Saratoga Bet Back: Receive refunds on win bets (up to $10) if your horse finishes second or third in select races at Saratoga. Offer must be unlocked each day of the meet; see offers page for details.
  • $10K Pick 4 Hit It and Split It at Hoosier Park: Hit the early Pick 4 at Hoosier Park on any Thursday, from July 8-Aug. 5, to win your share of a $2,000 weekly jackpot. (Note: the July 29 jackpot stands at $4,000, because no players hit the July 22 jackpot.)

Picks and plays

Saratoga, Race 6: Maiden special weight (5 1/2 furlongs on turf, 3:55 p.m. ET)

Which trainer has the best record with debut juveniles in turf sprints at Saratoga? Among trainers with four starts or more since 2016, the standard for success is held by Chad Brown, whose 5-2-2 record from 15 starts leads the way by wins and by win percentage.

We’ll put the numbers in our favor and support Brown’s #10 Consumer Spending (4-1) in this 5 1/2-furlong dash for two-year-old fillies. As a daughter of More Than Ready, out of a Scat Daddy mare, Consumer Spending is bred to be an early maturing, speedy turf filly.

She has breezed steadily at Saratoga in preparation for her debut and will be ridden by three-time Eclipse Award-winning jockey Irad Ortiz, which sets the stage for a triumphant performance.

#5 Her World (5-2), #2 Halo of Fire (8-1), and #1 The Club (7-2) can battle to round out the exacta and trifecta.

$15 to win on #10 Consumer Spending
$3 exacta: 10 with 1,2,5 ($9)
$1 trifecta: 10 with 1,2,5 with 1,2,5 ($6)
Total: $30

Canterbury Park, Race 1: Maiden special weight (five furlongs, 6:12 p.m. ET)

Speaking of trainers who win at a high rate with juvenile first-time starters, McLean Robertson has put together a 13-14-3 record from 49 starts (27%) with debut two-year-olds over the Canterbury Park main track since 2016. That stat indicates Robertson’s promising colt, #1 Hurts So Bad (5-2), will be tough to beat in the Thursday opener at Canterbury.

Sold for $120,000 as a yearling, Hurts So Bad is a son of juvenile Grade 1 winner Violence, who sires 17% winners from first-time starters. Hurts So Bad has already shown some talent in the morning, and most notably breezed a half-mile from the Canterbury starting gate in :47 flat.

Jockey Alex Canchari has won at a 25% clip when he teams with Robertson, so we’ll take advantage of the Midweek Bet Back offer and place a $10 win bet on Hurts So Bad.

We’ll add #4 Turnsandconditions (3-1) and #7 Cause I’m Leavin (7-2) for exacta and trifecta tickets.

$10 to win on #1 Hurts So Bad
$5 exacta: 1 with 4,7 ($10)
$2.50 trifecta: 1 with 4,7 with 4,7 ($5)
Total: $25

Canterbury Park, Race 2: Allowance (one mile, 6:42 p.m. ET)

Surely the most likely winner on the Canterbury card is #2 Star of the North (3-5) in the evening’s second race. The three-year-old filly has rattled off six consecutive victories by a minimum of 2 1/4 lengths, including multiple stakes wins at Canterbury.

In terms of Brisnet Speed ratings, Star of the North is a clear standout. Whereas none of her rivals have earned a figure higher than 70, Star of the North has posted six consecutive figures of 75 or better, with her last three in the 84-87 range. She has plenty of early speed and dominated the six-furlong Frances Genter S. at Canterbury earlier this month, so it’s hard to envision Star of the North coming up short.

But how should we play the race? One option would be to place a $10 win bet on Star of the North, to take advantage of the Midweek Bet Back promotion. But since the payoff that wager would be small, I’m more inclined to bet Star of the North in a straight exacta, over Minnesota Nice, who dominated her lone dirt route to date (a maiden special weight at Canterbury) by 11 lengths.

$25 exacta: 2 with 1

Carryover watch

Arlington Park, Race 1: $45,045 Pick 8 carryover (3:25 p.m. ET)
Arlington Park, Race 2: $6,518 Pick 7 carryover (3:51 p.m. ET)

What is the richest non-jackpot carryover up for grabs at a North American Thoroughbred racetrack Thursday? That would be the $45,045 Pick 8 carryover at Arlington Park. And what is the second-richest? Arlington’s $6,518 Pick 7 carryover.

The Pick 8 and the Pick 7 are both 20-cent wagers with 15% takeout rates. They’re hard to hit (hence the carryovers), as Thursday’s Pick 8 featured 6,350,400 possible outcomes, but we’ve identified a couple viable singles to simplify the sequence. If you key them both, you can slice the number of possible outcomes down to just 151,200.

Here are the horses we suggest singling in the Pick 8 and the Pick 7.

Race 2: #3 Big Sport (2-1)

Big Sport has been on fire this season, with four wins in his five starts for trainer Brittany Vanden Berg. On June 26, the son of Kantharos wired a 6 1/2-furlong, optional-claiming starter sprint at Arlington and hung on by a neck.

Big Sport has posted five straight Brisnet Speed ratings in the 84-87 range, so it’s safe to say he is consistent. Vanden Berg strikes at a 41% rate with last-out winners, so the drop in class figures to make Big Sport tough to beat under jockey Christopher Emigh, a 32% winner when he teams with Vanden Berg.

Race 7: #2 Morethansoultitle (7-5)

Morethansoultitle has never run on Polytrack, but he has certainly shown promise against tougher company on dirt. The son of More Than Ready exits a pair of $16,000 maiden claimers at Ellis Park, where he finished second and fourth and earned Brisnet Speed ratings of 71 and 72 — the two best figures in Thursday’s field.

The drop to a $6,250 maiden claiming race should make Morethansoultitle formidable, even with the surface switch at Arlington.

He brings tactical speed, which is appealing, since 47% of Arlington’s six-furlong Polytrack sprints are won in gate-to-wire fashion. Morethansoultitle should be tough to beat at a short price.

Good luck!