Keeler Johnson's picks and plays for July 30

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July 30th, 2021

Handicapper J. Keeler Johnson shares $75 worth of picks and plays for Friday, July 30 at Saratoga and Del Mar, along with suggested singles for a trio of carryovers at Arlington Park.

Today’s special offers from TwinSpires include.

  • Rest of the World Bet Back: Receive refunds on win bets (up to $10) if your horse finishes second in any race at Randwick (Australia).
  • 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.
  • Del Mar Daily $500 Place Jackpot: Hit six or more winning $5+ place bets at Del Mar to split a $500 daily jackpot.

Picks and plays

Saratoga, Race 1: Maiden special weight (six furlongs, 1:05 p.m. ET)

Although trainer Christophe Clement is primarily known for turf horses, his record with debut juveniles over the Saratoga dirt since 2016 stands at four wins from 19 starts (21%). So why not support #8 Sugar and Speights (5-2) in the Friday opener at the Spa?

Sugar and Speights is a daughter of Speightster, who has sired 14% winners from first-time starters. Sugar and Speights has trained forwardly for her debut and most notably breezed a near-bullet half-mile from the Saratoga starting gate in :48 flat. All signs suggest Sugar and Speights can come out running and beat fellow first-time starter #7 Laoban’s Legacy (2-1) in the race to the winner’s circle.

We’ll take aim at the Saratoga Bet Back promotion and place a $10 wager bet on Sugar and Speights, then play her over Laoban’s Legacy in a cold exacta.

$10 to win on #8 Sugar and Speights
$5 exacta: 8 with 7
Total: $15

Saratoga, Race 9: Curlin S. (1 1/8 miles, 5:39 p.m. ET)

#4 First Captain (7-5) is undefeated in three starts for trainer Shug McGaughey, including a score in the Dwyer S. (G3) at Belmont Park last month. Sold for $1.5 million as a yearling, the son of Curlin is bred top and bottom to thrive over classic distances and figures to relish the stretch out around two turns Friday.

#5 Beren (5-1), who has rattled off three straight stakes wins over distances from six furlongs to 1 1/16 miles, can battle with the up-and-coming allowance winner #3 Harvard (6-1) for the minor awards.

$10 exacta: 4 with 3,5 ($20)
$5 trifecta: 4 with 3,5 with 3,5 ($10)
Total: $30

Del Mar, Race 3: Maiden special weight (five furlongs on turf, 8 p.m. ET)

Since 2016, trainer Peter Miller has six wins from 19 starts (32%) with two-year-olds on turf at Del Mar. Excluding first-time starters, Miller’s record stands at an even more impressive four wins from 11 starts (36%).

The numbers indicate #1 Zuboshi (5-2) will be tough to beat in Friday’s turf dash for juveniles. The California-bred filly ran well in her debut on dirt at Los Alamitos, where she carved out the pace in a five-furlong sprint, then weakened slightly to finish second by a length. Zuboshi pulled six lengths clear of the third-place runner and earned a 72 Brisnet Speed rating.

Miller wins at a 26% rate with second-time starters, and hot jockey Kyle Frey is named to ride. If Zuboshi handles the switch to turf, she can deliver a mild upset, over Florida shipper #6 French Franc (9-5) and the well-bred #7 Kitten Calls (8-1).

$20 to win on #1 Zuboshi
$5 exacta: 1 with 6,7 ($10)
Total: $30

Carryover watch

Arlington Park, Race 1: $64,827 Pick 8 carryover (3:25 p.m. ET)
Arlington Park, Race 2: $8,847 Pick 7 carryover (3:51 p.m. ET)
Arlington Park, Race 3: $4,214 Pick 6 carryover (4:22 p.m. ET)

The Pick 6, Pick 7, and Pick 8 — a trio of 20-cent wagers with 15% takeout rates — went unclaimed Thursday at Arlington Park, which triggered carryovers for the Friday card. Best of all, you don’t have to construct unique winning tickets to cash shares of the prizes. The carryovers will be split equally among all winning bettors.

Eager to play along? Her are a couple suggested singles to get you started.

Race 5: #4 Backside Beauty (8-5)

It pays to bet speed in five-furlong turf sprints at Arlington Park, because 47% are won in gate-to-wire fashion. And while there are several potential frontrunners in this low-level claimer for fillies and mares, the “speed of the speed” is Backside Beauty.

Trained by Larry Rivelli (a 39% winner at the meet), Backside Beauty placed twice against $12,500 company over this course and distance, then obliterated a $6,250 claimer by 3 3/4 lengths. The daughter of Orb led by daylight throughout and threw down a 75 Brisnet Speed rating.

Leading jockey Jareth Loveberry (a 37% winner when he teams with Rivelli) has retained the mount, which stamps Backside Beauty as a logical favorite at this $6,250 class level.

Race 8: #4 Eye of the Cat (7-5)

Surely the third time will be the charm for Eye of the Cat.

Her first two starts over the Arlington turf course yielded runner-up efforts against maiden special weight company, including a narrow defeat July 8. On that occasion, Eye of the Cat charged hard to finish a nose away from victory in a one-mile turf test.

Eye of the Cat will stick to the same course and distance Friday, and she will be guided once again by Loveberry. Eye of the Cat owns the highest Brisnet Speed ratings in the field, and with a bit of luck, she can finally visit the winner’s circle.

Good luck!