Keeler Johnson's picks and plays for July 8

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July 8th, 2021

Handicapper J. Keeler Johnson shares picks and plays for Thursday, July 8 at Arlington Park and Indiana Grand, along with thoughts on the $23,277 Pick 5 carryover at Charles Town.

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 Indiana Grand.

Picks and plays

Arlington Park, Race 6: Maiden special weight (five furlongs, 5:52 p.m. ET)

Since 2016, trainer Larry Rivelli has 26 wins from 56 starts (46%) with debuting two-year-olds over the Polytrack course at Arlington Park. Betting them all equally would have produced a profit.

With these powerful stats in mind, how can we possibly oppose #7 Richie’s Palace (5-2) in this five-furlong dash for juveniles? The son of top-class sprinter Palace has turned in nine timed workouts under Rivelli’s care, including a bullet three furlongs from the Arlington starting gate in :36 2/5, and looks ready to roll.

Arlington’s leading jockey, Jareth Loveberry, is named to ride Richie’s Palace, which stamps the dark bay colt as a logical choice to win on debut.

To take advantage of the Midweek Bet Back promotion, we’ll place a $10 win bet on Richie’s Palace, then play him in the exacta, over #5 Tough to Tame (7-2) and #8 Mr Creed (4-1).

$10 to win on #7 Richie’s Palace
$5 exacta: 7 with 5,8 ($10)
Total: $20

Arlington Park, Race 7: Allowance/optional claiming (one mile on turf, 6:23 p.m. ET)

#5 Lady Brexit (8-1) failed to fire in her most recent effort, when she finished seventh in a allowance/optional claimer over the Arlington Polytrack. But the daughter of English Channel is bred top and bottom for turf and is eligible to rebound on a return to the lawn.

Two starts back, Lady Brexit rallied nicely to win a $20,000 claimer at one mile over the Arlington turf and earned a competitive 80 Brisnet Speed rating. If she bounces back to that level of form, Lady Brexit can vie for victory at a nice price.

Following along with the Midweek Bet Back offer, we’ll place a $10 win bet on Lady Brexit. Then we’ll play her on top of small exacta and trifecta tickets.

$10 to win on #5 Lady Brexit
$2 exacta: 5 with 4,6,7 ($6)
50-cent trifecta: 5 with 4,6,7 with 4,6,7 ($3)
Total: $19

Indiana Grand, Race 5: Maiden special weight (one mile on turf, 5:29 p.m. ET)

#2 Rhapsody in Grey (10-1) hasn’t come close to winning in three starts on dirt, but in her lone turf run, against maiden special weight company at Indiana Grand last fall, she performed significantly better, saved ground from a pace-tracking position, and finished third.

The 58 Brisnet Speed rating Rhapsody in Grey received doesn't catch the eye, but she was only a juvenile at the time, so she is eligible to run faster on the transition back to turf as a three-year-old. She recently returned from an eight-month break to finish sixth in a six-furlong dirt sprint at Indiana Grand, which earned a 56 rating, so I suspect she is capable of a much-improved effort on the lawn.

We’ll capitalize on the Midweek Bet Back offer with a $10 win bet on Rhapsody in Blue. We’ll also play her over logical favorite #4 Bertie the Beauty (6-5) in a cold exacta.

$10 to win on #2 Rhapsody in Grey
$6 exacta: 2 with 4
Total: $16

Carryover watch

Charles Town, Race 4: $23,277 Pick 5 carryover (8:25 p.m. ET)

There aren’t too many non-jackpot carryovers on the agenda for Thursday, but at least Charles Town has a nice offering on tap — a $23,277 carryover in the Pick 5.

The sequence is not for the faint of heart. Three of the races are expected to feature 10 starters (the maximum), while fields of eight and seven complete the sequence.

But if you’re game to give the wager a go, we’ve identified a couple noteworthy runners (one single, one vulnerable favorite) to build your tickets around.

Best single: Race 5 (maiden special weight): #2 Thunderinreadyrick (7-2)

The par winning Brisnet Speed rating for this track, class level, and 4 1/2-furlong distance is 70, which is quite a bit higher than the 62 posted by Thunderinreadyrick in his debut under these conditions June 17. But there are reasons to believe the three-year-old gelding can improve in his second start.

Thunderinreadyrick received a less-than-ideal trip in his debut. After a slow break, he ran into early traffic and unleashed a nice middle move around the turn to reach contention. He understandably flattened out and raced a bit greenly down the homestretch but still managed to grab third place.

With a sharper break and a clean trip Thursday, Thunderinreadyrick can take a step forward and visit the winner’s circle.

Vulnerable favorite: Race 6 ($15,000 claiming): #1 Spunman (8-5)

Many handicappers figure to view Charles Town allowance winner Spunman as a logical single on a drop into the claiming ranks for the first time. But trainer Jeff Runco (a 21% winner overall) strikes at just a 10% rate with first-time claimers, and Spunman’s recent form has been trending downward, with three straight defeats by a minimum of 6 3/4 lengths.

In contrast, #6 Riding Cloud Nine (9-2) has put up some solid Brisnet Speed ratings against allowance and $15,000 claiming company at Charles Town. The four-year-old gelding finished second at this track, distance, and class level May 22 and is a logical alternative if the favorite falters again.

Good luck!