Keeler Johnson's picks and plays for July 7
Handicapper J. Keeler Johnson shares picks and plays for Wednesday, July 7 at Delaware Park, Indiana Grand, and Presque Isle Downs, along with a ticket for the $166,573 mandatory-payout Pick 6 carryover at Indiana Grand.
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 Assiniboia and Delaware Park.
- Indiana Derby Bet Back: Receive refunds on win bets (up to $10) if your horse finishes second (in fields of five horses or more) or third (in fields of eight horses or more) in any race at Indiana Grand.
- Rest of the World Bet Back: Receive refunds on win bets (up to $10) if your horse finishes second in any race at Happy Valley (Hong Kong).
- $5,000 Pick 5 Indiana Derby Jackpot: Players who hit Pick 5 wagers at Indiana Grand on eligible race days between June 28 and July 6 are eligible to split a $5,000 jackpot if they can hit the Indiana Grand Pick 5 again on Indiana Derby day, July 7.
Picks and plays
#12 Street Lute (9-2) has been an extraordinary win machine for trainer John Robb.
The daughter of Street Magician boasts eight wins from 11 starts, highlighted by seven stakes triumphs, including a rallying score in the five-furlong Stormy Blues S. at Pimlico last month.
Dirt sprints are Street Lute’s wheelhouse, and while the Peach Blossom S. is slated to be held on turf, rainfall may move the race to the main track. We’ll plan accordingly and place a $10 win bet on Street Lute, to capitalize on the Midweek Bet Back offer.
Conniver S. winner #3 Kiss the Girl (5-1), who finished a troubled sixth in a Pimlico allowance two months ago, can round out the exacta.
$10 to win on #12 Street Lute
$5 exacta: 12 with 3
#5 Dillsboro Devil (7-5) is the heavy favorite, after a win in the Crown Ambassador S. at Indiana Grand last season, but the three-year-old gelding hasn’t run since November and isn’t the fastest horse on paper. All six of his Wednesday rivals have run as fast or faster on the Brisnet Speed rating scale, including #4 Rampage (3-1).
Rampage might not be a frequent winner, but he has been a consistent factor against allowance competition at Indiana Grand and has hit the board in five straight races. He was especially strong in a five-furlong dash last month, when he rallied to finish second, for a 79 Brisnet Speed rating.
If Dillsboro Devil falters off the layoff, Rampage can spring a surprise for the jockey/trainer duo of Rodney Prescott and Randy Matthews, who have teamed up to win at a 22% rate over the last 60 days.
Thanks to the Indiana Derby Bet Back promotion, we can place a $10 win bet on Rampage and receive a refund if he settles for second place.
We’ll also play Rampage on top of #2 Unbridled Victor (10-1) and #3 All Star Justice (5-1) in the exacta.
$10 to win on #4 Rampage
$5 exacta: 4 with 2,3 ($10)
#1 Tactical Pajamas (9-5) failed to factor in two stakes on dirt last season, but against easier company on Tapeta and synthetic, the daughter of Uncle Lino has been sharp.
A pace-pressing debut winner in a five-furlong sprint at Presque Isle last summer, Tactical Pajamas recently returned from a long layoff to finish third in a five-furlong turf allowance at Penn National, where she was beaten just a neck, after she carved out fast fractions.
Returning to the Tapeta track at Presque Isle should work wonders for Tactical Pajamas. Trainer Ron Potts wins at a 30% rate with runners who transition from turf to synthetic, and Tactical Pajamas figures to set the pace, after a break from the rail. Post 1 wins at a 15% rate in 5 1/2-furlongs sprints at Presque Isle.
#4 Brooklyns Surprise (2-1), a proven allowance competitor at Presque Isle, can complete a chalky but straightforward exacta.
$25 to win on #1 Tactical Pajamas
$10 exacta: 1 with 4
It’s not every day horseplayers get to handicap an all-stakes Pick 6 sequence. It’s even rarer to play such a sequence with a mandatory carryover payout on the line.
Yet those are exactly the circumstances Wednesday, when Indiana Grand will disperse a $166,573 Straight Fire 6 jackpot as part of its stakes-packed Indiana Derby Day card.
If you’re keen to play along, we’ve put together a $72 ticket. Here’s how we’ll tackle the sequence.
Race 7: Michael G. Schaefer Memorial S. (one mile and 70 yards, 5:30 p.m. ET)
#1 Shared Sense (5-2) won the 2020 Indiana Derby (G3) over this track last summer and looms as a logical favorite for trainer Brad Cox. But the son of Street Sense hasn’t run since November, so for backup, we’ll use the rapidly improving Churchill Downs allowance winner #6 Exulting (5-1) and Shared Sense’s stakes-winning stablemate #9 Plainsman (4-1).
Race 8: Jonathan B. Schuster Memorial S. (1 1/16 miles on turf, 6:03 p.m. ET)
There are a lot of logical contenders in this competitive turf test. We’ll spread deep with #1 Hemp Hemp Hurray (20-1), #3 Split the Wickets (6-1), #4 Strong Tide (5-1), #9 Midnight Tea Time (5-2), and #10 Monarchs Glen (3-1).
Race 9: Mari Hulman George Memorial S. (1 1/16 miles, 6:33 p.m. ET)
#6 Saracosa (5-2) placed in the Delaware H. (G2) last summer and is a standout on the Brisnet Speed rating scale, but the six-year-old mare ran below par in her 2021 debut. #2 Matera (3-1), an Oaklawn Park allowance winner trained by Cox, can be used as backup.
Race 10: Indiana General Assembly Distaff S. (1 1/16 miles on turf, 7:05 p.m. ET)
Cox’s Irish import #6 Raven’s Cry (5-2) has two wins from two starts on turf since she arrived in the U.S., and most notably used her tactical speed to win the Miss Houston Turf S. at Sam Houston. She’ll be formidable, though stakes winners #7 Summer in Saratoga (3-1) and #11 Dominga (7-2) also have the form lines to factor in this large field, and #12 La Renoleta (15-1) could be a live longshot in her first U.S. turf start.
Race 11: Indiana Oaks (G3, 1 1/16 miles, 7:43 p.m. ET)
Honeybee S. (G3) winner #1 Will’s Secret (5-2) and Santa Anita Oaks (G1) victress #2 Soothsay (3-1) are the most accomplished runners in the Indiana Oaks field, and both enter in strong form. Will’s Secret finished third in the Kentucky Oaks (G1), while Soothsay was runner-up in the Summertime Oaks (G2). But the speedy #9 Lady Aces (8-1) might have upside for an upset, after she finished third in the Summertime Oaks, just 1 3/4 lengths behind Soothsay.
Race 12: Indiana Derby (G3, 1 1/16 miles, 8:25 p.m. ET)
We have to single the exciting #1 Fulsome (4-5), who threw down a field-best 100 Brisnet Speed rating when he overcame a slow pace to rally and win the Matt Winn S. (G3) at Churchill Downs. The Cox trainee is undefeated in three starts on dirt and looks like a star in the making.
20-cent Straight Fire Pick 6: 1,6,9 with 1,3,4,9,10 with 2,6 with 6,7,11,12 with 1,2,9 with 1 ($72)