Keeler Johnson's picks and plays for June 9
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.
- 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
#7 April’s No Fool (8-1) isn’t really a sprinter. The daughter of Lentenor has done her best work around two turns and winless in two six-furlong dashes. But one of those defeats came in her debut, and the other was a respectable fifth in an allowance at Fair Grounds.
April’s No Fool arrives at Indiana off a runner-up effort in a one-mile allowance at Churchill Downs, where she carved out the pace and finished just a neck behind three-time stakes winner She’s All Wolfe.
On Wednesday, April’s No Fool will square off against Indiana-bred rivals, which makes her jump to stakes company a little bit easier.
Throw in the fact April’s No Fool owns some of the best recent Brisnet Speed ratings in the Shelby County field, and I think she is worth betting to win (to take advantage of the Midweek Bet Back offer) and playing on top of #2 Hungarian Princess (3-1) in the exacta.
$10 to win on #7 April’s No Fool
$5 exacta: 7 with 2
#2 Double Tuff (6-5) was on fire in six-furlong sprints at Indiana Grand last season, when he rattled off three victories from as many starts. A two-time winner of the William Henry Harrison, Double Tuff boasts tactical speed, coupled with versatility — he can rate in mid-pack and come charging late, if necessary.
Double Tuff has turned in an encouraging series of workouts in preparation for his 2021 debut, capped by five furlongs in 1:00 3/5 June 1. His last two Brisnet Speed ratings (98 and 99) tower over Wednesday’s field, and trainer Kim Hammond strikes at a 28% rate in ungraded stakes. Double Tuff should be, well, doubly tough to beat in the William Henry Harrison.
Following along with the Midweek Bet Back offer, we’ll place a $10 win bet on Double Tuff. Then we’ll play him on top of #5 Thatswhatithought (7-2) and #6 Sky Judge (20-1) in the exacta and trifecta.
$10 to win on #2 Double Tuff
$5 exacta: 2 with 5,6 ($10)
$2.50 trifecta: 2 with 5,6 with 5,6 ($5)
Indiana Grand’s 20-cent Straight Fire 6 might be a jackpot-style wager, but at least the base takeout rate is 15%, and daily payoffs can be reasonably enticing, if you’re willing to play on a modest budget.
Tuesday’s sequence was pretty straightforward, with just 36 horses entered across the six races. Wednesday’s slate looks considerably tougher before scratches, with 57 horses (including one also-eligible) in the entries.
The Straight Fire 6 spans Races 3-8, including the Shelby County S. and William Henry Harrison S. outlined above. If you’re willing to single Double Tuff, and take a stand with April’s No Fool and Hungarian Princess, that’s a pretty good start to keep costs reasonable.
If you want to take aim at the carryover jackpot, it would be nice to beat a favorite or two along the way. One opportunity comes in Race 3, a $10,000 maiden claiming sprint for Indiana-bred fillies and mares.
#3 Perfect Smokey Eye (4-5) is the heavy favorite, after finishing she finished second at this track and class level May 13, when she earned a field-best 71 Brisnet Speed rating. But Perfect Smokey Eye’s winless record from seven starts is cause for pause, and her previous form against maiden special weight company was nothing to write home about.
Who’s to say challengers like #8 Halo and Lace (12-1) or #9 Wanting (10-1) can’t take a similar step forward on the drop from maiden special weight company for the first time?
Wanting finished second in an Indiana Grand maiden special weight April 13, and trainer Michelle Elliot strikes at a 26% rate with first-time maiden claiming starters. Even the first-time starter #10 Rosy Glow (8-1) offers some appeal, considering trainer Robert Gorham wins at a 21% rate with horses who debut in maiden claiming events.
So why not oppose Perfect Smokey Eye in the Straight Fire 6 opener? If you can beat the 4-5 favorite, you’ll be well on your way to winning the jackpot, or at least cashing a respectable consolation payoff.