Keeler Johnson's picks and plays for June 8

Profile Picture: J. Keeler Johnson

June 8th, 2021

Handicapper J. Keeler Johnson shares his picks and plays for Tuesday, June 8 at Indiana Grand and Thistledown, along with thoughts on Canterbury Park’s $2,784 Pick 6 carryover.

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 Canterbury Park and Thistledown.
  • 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

Indiana Grand, Race 1: $30,000 maiden claiming (5 1/2 furlongs, 2:25 p.m. ET)

#6 Baby Vincent (15-1) wasn’t disgraced in his debut against maiden special weight company at Indiana Grand, where he rallied mildly and flattened out to finish sixth, behind runaway winner Nobody Listens. The latter came right back to win an allowance at Indiana Grand.

Baby Vincent will drop down into the maiden claiming ranks Tuesday. If he takes a step forward in his second start, he can lead the way home at a big price. We'll also key #2 Blight (9-5) underneath in trifecta plays.

$14 to win on #6 Baby Vincent
$1 trifecta: 6 with 2 with 1,3,4 ($3)
$1 trifecta: 6 with 1,3,4 with 2 ($3)
Total: $20

Thistledown, Race 2: Starter/optional claiming (six furlongs, 1:20 p.m. ET)

There are a handful of logical competitors in this sprint, and they generally take turns beating each other. This time around, it feels like it might be time for #1 Montauk Cove (6-1) to visit the winner’s circle.

A gate-to-wire winner over this track and class level last fall, Montauk Cove brings plenty of tactical speed to the equation and enters off back-to-back runner-up efforts at Thistledown. In a 5 1/2-furlong allowance May 26, Montauk Cove threw down a 95 Brisnet Speed rating, the best last-out figure earned by any horse in Tuesday’s field.

Trainer David Wolochuk has won at a 31% rate this meet at Thistledown, and Montauk Cove will be tough to catch if he breaks alertly from the rail.

To take advantage of the Midweek Bet Back offer, we’ll place a $10 win bet on Montauk Cove, then play him in a small trifecta, over #4 Leo (4-1), #8 Sky Writer (9-2), #9 Adhhar (10-1), and #10 Shadow Tracer (5-1).

$10 to win on #1 Montauk Cove
50-cent trifecta: 1 with 4,8,9,10 with 4,8,9,10 ($6)
Total: $16

Thistledown, Race 4: Allowance (six furlongs, 2:20 p.m. ET)

#6 Nurse Judy (9-2) has been competing against tougher competition at Tampa Bay Downs, where she finished second in a $25,000 starter allowance two starts back. Along the way, she’s posted respectable Brisnet Speed ratings as high as 78.

Trainer Maria Bowersock has been absolutely on fire at Thistledown, with five wins from nine starts, and Nurse Judy has already taken a few training spins over the Thistledown main track.

Nurse Judy’s 9-2 morning line odds are enticing, so we’ll keep things simple and place a $10 win bet on the three-year-old filly. If she finishes second, we’ll receive a refund through the Midweek Bet Back offer.

$10 to win on #6 Nurse Judy

Carryover watch

Canterbury Park, Race 3: $2,591 Pick 6 carryover (7:10 p.m. ET)

With a takeout rate of just 10%, the $1 Pick 6 at Canterbury Park is worth pursuing, even when there isn’t a carryover on the line. But toss a $2,591 bonus pot into the mix, and the sequence becomes even more enticing.

You don’t have to construct a unique winning ticket to earn a share of the carryover, but you do have to construct a winning ticket, and that’s easier said than done. The $1 minimum makes Canterbury’s Pick 6 five times more expensive to play than the 20-cent jackpot varieties available at many other tracks. No one managed to hit the wager Monday, when two players assembled 5-of-6 tickets for returns of $431.70.

Tuesday’s sequence looks tricky, with 54 horses and 491,520 possible outcomes to consider. Every race contains a minimum of eight entries, and finding a logical single will be difficult. But it’s a necessary task if we want to keep our ticket costs under control.

To help you get started, we’ve gone through the races and identified the best possible single in the sequence.

Race 5: #1 Ice Pop (2-1)

Speed has been dominant in five-furlong turf sprints at Canterbury this meet, as pacesetters have won for of the five contests. That bodes well for the chances of #1 Ice Pop (2-1), who is in hot form for trainer Robertino Diodoro, a 37% winner at Canterbury.

Ice Pop obliterated her rivals in a five-furlong dirt sprint at this class level at Canterbury last month, when she set fast fractions of :21.95 and :44.78, then drew clear to dominate by 7 3/4 lengths. Her final time of :57.10 translated to a 90 Brisnet Speed rating, the best figure ever posted by any horse in Tuesday’s field.

Ice Pop has never run on turf, but sire Street Boss is responsible for a solid 14% winners from first-time turf starters, and dam Keewatin Ice came within a head of winning a grass stakes.

Throw in the fact Ice Pop will be guided by Luis Negron (a 71% winner when he teams up with Diodoro), and I think we have a recipe for victory.

Good luck!