Keeler Johnson's picks and plays for June 4

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June 4th, 2021

Handicapper J. Keeler Johnson shares his picks and plays for Friday, June 4 at Belmont Park, Churchill Downs, and Prairie Meadows, along with a horse to key for five carryovers at Arlington Park.

Today’s special offers from TwinSpires include:

  • Belmont Stakes and Churchill Downs Money Back Offer: Receive refunds on win bets (up to $10) if your horse finishes second or third in any race at Belmont Park or Churchill Downs from June 3-5.
  • Rest of the World Bet Back: Receive refunds on win bets (up to $10) if your horse finishes second in any race at Eagle Farm (Australia) or Epsom (UK).

Picks and plays

Belmont Park, Race 5: Allowance/optional claiming (one mile on turf, 2:58 p.m. ET)

Whether this grass race for three-year-olds stays on the turf or is rained onto the main track, #10 Founder (10-1) is an appealing longshot play.

The Chad Brown trainee failed to fire in his 2021 debut, when he finished ninth in an allowance at Keeneland, but Founder showed plenty of promise as a juvenile.

He won his debut over future Kentucky Derby (G1) starter Highly Motivated, then finished fifth in the Breeders’ Futurity (G1) and third in a Churchill Downs allowance. Along the way, he knocked heads with future graded stakes winners Essential Quality, Mandaloun, Keepmeinmind, and Super Stock.

Founder figures to face an easier field Friday, and jockey Jose Ortiz (a 38% winner when he teams with Brown) will reunite with Founder for the first time since the colt’s debut victory. The $600,000 two-year-old purchase might just outrun expectations at a big price.

We’ll place a $10 win bet on Founder, then play him in the exacta, over coupled entrymates #1 Shaftesbury (7-2) or #1A Amount (7-2), whichever one winds up starting.

$10 to win on #10 Founder
$5 exacta: 10 with 1
Total: $15

Churchill Downs, Race 8: Allowance/optional claiming (six furlongs, 4:22 p.m. ET)

There is plenty of speed in this six-furlong dash, which bodes well for the chances of #2 Attachment Rate (3-1).

The son of Hard Spun hasn’t missed the trifecta in his last five one-turn dirt races, including third-place efforts in the 2020 Gotham S. (G3) and April 3 Commonwealth S. (G3).

Attachment Rate’s performance in the Commonwealth was particularly impressive, since he gained 3 1/4 lengths through the final furlong to finish just 1 1/4 lengths away from victory, beaten only by next-out graded stakes winners Flagstaff and Special Reserve.

If you draw a line through Attachment Rate’s no-show in the April 30 Alysheba S. (G2) around two turns, his recent form looks solid.

We’ll place a $10 win bet on Attachment Rate and play him in the exacta, over #4 I’m Corfu (9-2), who might be the best of the speedsters. I'm Corfu won his last three dirt sprints for trainer Brittany Vanden Berg.

$10 to win on #2 Attachment Rate
$5 exacta: 2 with 4
Total: $15

Prairie Meadows, Race 8: Prairie Mile (one mile, 10:09 p.m. ET)

#4 Convention (7-2) fired off a respectable effort in a deep renewal of the Oaklawn S. at Oaklawn Park last month.

After he settled a few lengths off the early tempo, Convention stayed on to finish fifth, 3 1/2 lengths back of the winner, behind next-out Matt Winn S. (G3) winner Fulsome and Texas Derby winner Warrant.

Convention will meet an easier field in the Prairie Mile and may appreciate the cut back to one mile, the distance over which he won a Sam Houston allowance two starts back.

Jockey Francisco Arrieta succeeds at a 25% rate when he teams with trainer Steve Asmussen, so we’ll bet Convention to win and key him on top of #6 Stilleto Boy (6-1) and #8 Gagetown (5-2) in the exacta.

$20 to win on #4 Convention
$10 exacta: 4 with 6,8
Total: $30

Carryover watch

Arlington Park, Race 1: $2,303 Pick 8 Carryover (3:25 p.m. ET)
Arlington Park, Race 2: $1,372 Pick 7 Carryover (3:55 p.m. ET)
Arlington Park, Race 3: $4,028 Pick 6 Carryover (4:27 p.m. ET)
Arlington Park, Race 4: $14,084 Pick 5 Carryover (4:59 p.m. ET)
Arlington Park, Race 8, $23,303 Jackpot High 5 (6:59 p.m. ET)

On any given day, it’s not uncommon for a racetrack to have a carryover pool up for grabs. Having two carryovers at a single track isn’t terribly rare, either.

But five carryovers? This is territory rarely explored, and yet Arlington Park’s Friday card has managed to reach this elusive stratosphere.

Thursday was a day for upsets at the Illinois racetrack, as a trio of double-digit longshots visited the winner’s circle. Only one favorite prevailed all afternoon, which leaves non-jackpot carryovers in the Pick 5, Pick 6, Pick 7, and Pick 8 pools. There is also a carryover in the Jackpot High 5.

All five wagers feature 15% takeout rates, and depending on how many horses you include, they don’t have to be expensive to play. They’re all 20-cent wagers, with the exception of the Pick 5, which carries a 50-cent minimum.

If you’re planning to pursue one (or more) of the carryovers, then you better start by analyzing Race 8, which is featured in all five wagers. The event in question is a $20,000 claiming race held over one mile on turf. #1 Azrael (7-2) looms as the morning-line favorite for leading trainer Larry Rivelli, a 43% winner at the meet.

But Azrael’s career-best effort came in a six-furlong Polytack sprint two starts back, when he romped by 14 lengths with a 99 Brisnet Speed rating. He subsequently misfired in a 6 1/2-furlong allowance/optional claiming race, when he came home eighth after a duel for the lead, and there is no guarantee he will rebound on the switch to turf and stretch out in distance.

I’m more inclined to favor #2 Duchossois (6-1), who romped by 3 1/4 lengths in a $20,000 claiming race over this course and distance April 30. The son of Animal Kingdom was making his first start for Vanden Berg, a 45% winner this year. Duchossois finished fast off a slow pace (he sprinted the final quarter-mile in approximately 24 seconds) and has upside for improvement in his second start for Vanden Berg.

Dare we single Duchoissois in our multi-race wagers, and key him on top in the Jackpot High 5? It’s a risky strategy, considering he will face 11 rivals in a competitive heat. But if he wins at 6-1, we’ll have every chance to cash some solid payoffs.

Good luck!