Keeler Johnson's picks and plays for June 23
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 Indiana Grand.
- $5K All-Stakes Jackpot at Canterbury Park: Cash a $20 win bet in Races 3-8 at Canterbury Park to earn a share of a $5,000 jackpot.
- Pick 4 $5,000 Hit It & Split It at Canterbury Park: Place a winning Late Pick 4 (Races 7-10) wager at Canterbury Park and split an extra $5,000.
- 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).
- Build Your Indiana Derby Day Bankroll: Wager at least $1,000 (excluding show bets) at Indiana Grand in April, May, and/or June and receive $30 to wager at Indiana Grand on Indiana Derby day, July 7. Bet $1,000 at Indiana Grand in all three months and receive $150.
Picks and plays
Trainer Mike Maker clearly knows what it takes to saddle a competitive runner in the Mystic Lake Derby. After he reached the winner’s circle with Sniper Kitten (2018) and Faraway Kitten (2019), Maker sent out Angelus Warrior to finish second in 2020.
Maker has a pair of horses entered in the 2021 Mystic Lake Derby — #2 Chess’s Dream (4-1) and #7 Shady McGee (12-1). Both warrant respect. Chess’s Dream won the Kitten’s Joy S. (G3) at Gulfstream during the winter, while Shady McGee was much the best in a $30,000 claimer at Churchill Downs last month.
The form of Chess’s Dream has been muddied by a run on dirt and an even finish against a deep field in the American Turf S. (G2) at Churchill Downs. Shady McGee had a troubled run two starts back and might possess more talent than his overall form lines suggest.
For the purpose of playing the $5K All-Stakes Jackpot at Canterbury Park promotion, we’ll place a $20 win bet on Chess’s Dream. But we’ll also play Chess’s Dream and Shady McGee on top of exacta tickets, with #6 T D Dance (5-2) and #11 Bodenheimer (8-1) in the second-place spot.
$20 to win on #2 Chess’s Dream
$2 exacta: 2,7 with 2,6,7,11 ($12)
#8 Diamond Solitaire (5-2) placed against stakes company at Indiana Grand last fall and has shown promising form in two starts this season.
After she finished second in her 2021 debut, the daughter of Majestic Harbor overcame an extremely slow pace to rally and dominate an Indiana Grand allowance by 2 1/2 lengths.
Diamond Solitaire should get a bit more pace to work with Wednesday, which sets the stage for a breakthrough stakes victory under jockey Alex Achard.
To take advantage of the Midweek Bet Back promotion, we’ll place a $10 win bet on Diamond Solitaire, then play her over #1 Verry Amelia (7-2) and #4 Timeless Glory (8-1) in the exacta.
$10 to win on #8 Diamond Solitaire
$5 exacta: 8 with 1,4 ($10)
There’s a lot of speed entered in this two-turn dirt route, including a handful of sprinters who will stretch out in distance for the first time. A fast pace is likely, so rather than trust runners unproven at the distance, I’ll take a shot with #2 Lookin At Justice (15-1).
Trained by Genaro Garcia (a 20% winner at Indiana Grand this meet), Lookin At Justice was tons the best in the Indiana Futurity over this track in the fall, when he drew off to win by 6 1/4 lengths for a field-best 85 Brisnet Speed rating. He hasn’t won in four starts since, but there have been extenuating circumstances. Two of his defeats came against open company, and another (his most recent) came on turf.
Indiana Grand’s leading jockey, Marcelino Pedroza, has retained the mount, and I’m optimistic Lookin At Justice will get a perfect setup stalking or closing into a hot pace Wednesday. Garcia wins at a 21% rate with horses who transition from turf to dirt, so we’ll take advantage of the Midweek Bet Back offer and place a $10 win bet on Lookin At Justice.
We’ll also wheel Lookin At Justice in the exacta, with fellow longshots #4 Sudden Shift (15-1) and #5 Daddy’s Back (15-1), who have also shown the ability to excel running one mile or farther.
$10 to win on #2 Lookin At Justice
$2 exacta: 2 with 4,5 ($4)
$2 exacta: 4,5 with 2 ($4)
Wednesday brings a $2,099 non-jackpot carryover in the "Grand High 5" at Indiana Grand. The prize pool for the 10-cent Super High 5 wager is up for grabs in Race 4, a six-furlong allowance for Indiana-breds.
While the modest eight-horse field makes another carryover unlikely (there are only 6,720 possible outcomes), constructing a winning ticket might be trickier than it first appears.
The challenge becomes apparent when analyzing morning-line favorite #3 Whistlin’ Dixie (2-1). The daughter of Alternation owns three of the best Brisnet Speed ratings in the field and ran well in two starts against open company at Indiana Grand two years ago, when she broke her maiden by seven lengths and finished second in an allowance.
But Whistlin’ Dixie didn’t race at all in 2020, and she has failed to hit the board in two starts this season. After a fifth in an allowance at Oaklawn Park, Whistlin’ Dixie took a step backward in her return to Indiana Grand. In the state-bred ranks for the first time, Whistlin’ Dixie broke sharply outward at the start, settled off the pace, failed to mount a challenge, and finished seventh.
On her best day, Whistlin’ Dixie is the filly to beat. But her form this year makes her difficult to trust at a short price. I’m tempted to oppose her entirely for Grand High 5 purposes.
Instead, I’ll place my faith in #4 D D Seven Thirty (9-2). Trained by Cipriano Contreras (a 20% winner this year), the four-year-old filly finished second at this track, distance, and class level May 26 to earn a respectable 70 Brisnet Speed rating. D D Seven Thirty is one of the field’s fastest runners on paper and brings plenty of tactical speed, so a favorable trip should be in the offing. She’s a logical alternative to the vulnerable favorite.
#5 Nighttime Justice (3-1), a runaway winner against $30,000 maiden claiming company at Indiana Grand, is another obvious threat for hot trainer Aaron West. The consistent #7 Tuckyourtaleandrun (4-1) hasn’t run quite as fast on the Brisnet Speed rating scale, but she is versatile when it comes to running style and distance preferences, so a top-three finish is well within reach.
Let’s key D D Seven Thirty on top of all our tickets and emphasize Nighttime Justice and Tuckyourtaleandrun underneath.
10-cent Grand High 5: 4 with 5,7 with 5,7 with 1,2,6,8 with 1,2,6,8 ($2.40)
10-cent Grand High 5: 4 with 5,7 with 1,2,6,8 with 5,7 with 1,2,6,8 ($2.40)
10-cent Grand High 5: 4 with 5,7 with 1,2,6,8 with 1,2,6,8 with 5,7 ($2.40)
10-cent Grand High 5: 4 with 5,7 with 1,2,6,8 with 1,2,6,8 with 1,2,6,8 ($4.80)