Keeler Johnson's picks and plays for June 7
Today’s special offers from TwinSpires include:
- 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
#7 Big Polo (9-2) misfired in a $16,000 maiden claimer at Delaware Park last week, but he also stumbled severely at the start and essentially lost all chance. The three-year-old gelding previously finished fourth in a pair of $16,000 maiden claimers over the turf course at Tampa Bay Downs, where he earned respectable Brisnet Speed ratings of 63 and 66.
The drop to the $5,000 claiming level can help Big Polo rebound for trainer Victor Carrasco, a 38% winner with horses who descend two or more levels down the class ladder.
$10 to win on #7 Big Polo
$5 exacta: 7 with 6
#5 Nora’s Star (3-1) is a first-time starter trained by Brian Waltz. Since 2016, Waltz has won his lone start with a debut runner at Indiana Grand, and that winner was Nora’s Star’s half-brother, Mischieviousbud, a frontrunning victor in a five-furlongs dash last summer.
Like Mischieviousbud, Nora’s Star has prepared for her debut at HighPointe Farm and Training Center. Waltz wins at a 25% rate in maiden special weights, and since Nora’s Star is a January foal, she may have a subtle maturity advantage in Monday’s field.
A win bet will be our first order of business, followed by a straight exacta, with #4 Mi Estrella (3-5) in the second-place slot.
$20 to win on #5 Nora’s Star
$10 exacta: 5 with 4
#3 Hoosier Premium (4-1) never fired in her debut at Indiana Grand last summer, but the four-year-old filly looked like a different horse in her return to action May 18.
Disregarded at 50-1 in a six-furlong maiden special weight for Indiana-breds, Hoosier Premium tracked a solid early pace outside of rivals, then took command and powered clear to win by eight lengths.
This effort earned a 73 Brisnet Speed rating, just one point shy of the career-best figure earned by the multiple stakes-placed favorite #9 Pearl Tiara (7-5).
Since Hoosier Premium offers a considerably better price, we’ll bet her to win and play her over Pearl Tiara in a cold exacta.
$20 to win on #3 Hoosier Premium
$10 exacta: 3 with 9
You won’t need a unique winning ticket to claim a share of the $1,501 Pick 5 carryover up for grabs at Indiana Grand on Monday. The 50-cent bet not a jackpot wager and splits the prize pot among all winning bettors, so the presence of the carryover — coupled with the wager’s 11.99% takeout rate — makes the Pick 5 an enticing betting proposition.
Monday’s sequence kicks off in Race 5, a $30,000 maiden claimer at one mile on the turf course. Seven horses have been entered, with #4 Hard Knocking (6-5) a logical choice. The three-year-old son of Noble Mission brings competitive Brisnet Speed ratings, after he finished fourth in his last two starts against maiden special weight company, including one run over the course and distance of Monday’s test.
The only concern is that trainer Victoria Oliver has gone winless in 18 starts with horses who drop from maiden special weights to maiden claimers in recent years. If Hard Knocking comes up short, then #1 Rounder (4-1) or #5 Alpine Ghost (6-1) are logical alternatives to steal the show. The latter offers appeal because of a switch to turf for the first time, considering sire Elusive Quality is responsible for a 12% winners from first-time grass starters.
In Race 6, Hoosier Premium and Pearl Tiara are obvious choices.
Race 7, a one-mile turf maiden special weight for Indiana-breds, also has the appearance of a two-horse battle. #2 Incredible Justice (5-2) is the fastest horse on paper and enters off three straight runner-up efforts at this class level, but all three were dirt sprints. How will she fare on the stretch out in distance and switch to turf?
#8 Stormy Wager (8-5) hasn’t run quite as fast as Incredible Justice on the Brisnet Speed rating scale, but she did finish second racing 7 1/2 furlongs over this course and class level last month, which stamps the Tim Glyshaw trainee as a deserving favorite (and maybe even a single).
Race 8, a six-furlong maiden special weight for Indiana-breds, drew a dozen fillies and mares, led by #3 Little Maemi (5-2). Runner-up in her last two starts over this track and class level, Little Maemi has tactical speed and rarely misses the board for trainer Randy Klopp, a 20% winner this meet. But Little Maemi’s winless record from 16 starts shows she tends to settle for a minor award more often than not, so lightly raced fillies like #2 West Coast Justice (8-1) or #8 Princess Consuela (9-2) have more upside for improvement.
The Pick 5 wraps in Race 9, a five-furlong maiden special weight over the grass course. #7 Jerry’s Secret (1-1) is hands down the fastest horse on paper, but the four-year-old gelding has never run on turf. If you’re unwilling to single a heavy favorite switching surfaces, you might consider using the first-time starter #1 Ignited (9-2) as backup. Sold for $140,000 as a juvenile, the four-year-old son of hot sire Into Mischief has put together a solid work tab for trainer Ethan West, an 18% winner this meet.