Keeler Johnson's picks and plays for May 13

Profile Picture: J. Keeler Johnson

May 13th, 2021

Handicapper J. Keeler Johnson shares his picks and plays for Thursday, May 13 at Belmont Park, Churchill Downs, and Lone Star Park, along with horses of note in Churchill’s $10,206 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 Belmont Park and Remington Park.
  • Preakness Money Back: Receive refunds on win bets (up to $10) if your horse finishes second or third in any race at Pimlico.
  • Churchill Downs Bet Back: Receive refunds on win bets (up to $10) if your horse finishes second or third in select races at Churchill Downs.
  • Trifecta Thursdays: Receive a 15% bonus (up to $25) on any winning trifecta ticket.
  • 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.
  • Lone Star Million Bet Club: Wager at least $100 (excluding show bets) at Lone Star Park on any day from April 22-May 23 and receive $5 to wager at Lone Star on Lone Star Million day, May 31. Wager at least $100 every day from April 22-May 23 and earn an additional $100 bonus. Wager at least $10,000 at Lone Star from April 22-May 23 and receive an additional $500 bonus.

Picks and plays

Belmont Park, Race 6: $12,500 claiming (seven furlongs, 5:43 p.m. ET)

Seven-year-old veteran #13 Win With Pride (3-1) fired a big effort in his second start for trainer Orlando Noda, a 29% winner at Belmont this meet. In for a $10,000 claiming tag April 25 at Belmont, Win With Pride settled a couple lengths off the early tempo, then rallied to win the six-furlong sprint by two lengths.

The 93 Brisnet Speed rating Win With Pride received is clearly the highest last-out figure earned by any horse in Thursday’s field. Post 13 is a concern, but Win With Pride has some tactical speed and has retained the services of jockey Joel Rosario (a 38% winner at Belmont this meet), so Win With Pride should have opportunities to work his way toward the inside during the lengthy run to the turn.

To take advantage of the Midweek Bet Back offer, we’ll place a $10 win bet on With With Pride, then play him in a small exacta, with the capable and consistent #3 Eagle Pass (9-2) for second place.

$10 to win on #13 Win With Pride
$5 exacta: 13 with 3
Total: $15

Churchill Downs, Race 2: Maiden special weight (five furlongs, 5:29 p.m. ET)

Trainer Wesley Ward has been on fire with two-year-olds at Churchill Downs this spring, with four wins from five starters, but there are a couple ways to interpret that stat.

We can assume Ward’s unraced filly #3 Anna and Mia (9-5) is a lock to win this five-furlong sprint for two-year-olds, or we can conclude 80% is an unsustainable win rate and Ward has to run out of fast juveniles eventually — right?

Anna and Mia has put together a solid work tab at Keeneland, so there’s no reason to think she won’t fire a strong shot on debut. But #7 Tizplenty (5-2) has likewise posted fast workouts for trainer Steve Asmussen, highlighted by a bullet half-mile from the Keeneland starting gate in :46 4/5.

A daughter of Speightstown (who sires an excellent 16% winners from first-time starters), Tizplenty was produced by the Tiznow mare Plenty O’Toole, who has already foaled two juvenile winners from three starters.

We’ll place a $10 win bet on Tizplenty, to take advantage of Churchill Downs Bet Back offer. Then we’ll play Tizplenty over Anna and Mia in the first two slots of a trifecta and hope to cash a bonus through the Trifecta Thursdays promotion.

$10 to win on #7 Tizplenty
$2.50 trifecta: 7 with 3 with 1,4,5,8 ($10)
Total: $20

Lone Star Park, Race 6: Allowance (1 1/16 miles, 9:55 p.m. ET)

There’s only one clear frontrunner in this allowance route for fillies and mares — #2 Darpa (9-2). The daughter of Super Saver has used her tactical speed to win consecutive races, and she most recently wired a $5,000 claiming event at Lone Star by 2 3/4 lengths.

That solid effort produced an 88 Brisnet Speed rating, the highest figure posted by any horse in Thursday’s field. Darpa was claimed out of that event by trainer Amanda Barton, a 6% winner this year, whose strike rate jumps to 17% with first-time claiming acquisitions. If Darpa shakes loose on an uncontested lead, she’ll be tough to catch at a nice price.

Working toward our goal of wagering $100 at Lone Star for the Lone Star Million Bet Club promotion, we’ll place a $25 win bet on Darpa and play her over morning line favorite #3 Shastaloo (5-2) in a $15 exacta.

$25 to win on #2 Darpa
$15 exacta: 2 with 3
Total: $40

Carryover watch

Churchill Downs, Race 3: $10,206 Derby City 6 jackpot

The racing week at Churchill Downs kicks off with a $10,206 jackpot carryover in the Derby City 6. Construct a unique winning ticket for the 20-cent Pick 6 wager, and the entire jackpot (plus the daily pool) is yours. In the event multiple winning tickets are sold, 90% of the daily pool will be dispersed among winning bettors, which stamps the Derby City 6 as one of the best jackpot Pick 6 wagers to play on a day-to-day basis.

Let’s take a look through the sequence and highlight three horses worth betting or opposing.

Best single: Race 7, #7 Basquiat (4-1)

Chad Brown’s Basquiat knocked heads with some tough runners last year, including Dubai World Cup (G1) winner Mystic Guide, Jockey Club Gold Cup (G1) victor Happy Saver, H. Allen Jerkens S. (G1) runner-up Tap It to Win, Peter Pan S. (G3) winner Country Grammer, Pennine Ridge S. (G2) runner-up Proven Strategies, Bryan Station S. winner Ever Dangerous, Texas Turf Mile winner Bodecream, two-time stakes winner and Forty Marcy S. (G2) runner-up City Man — you get the picture.

Basquiat figures to face an easier time when he kicks off his 2021 campaign in a 1 1/16-mile turf allowance at Churchill Downs. Brown wins at 29% rate with horses returning from layoffs of 90 days or more, and at a 28% rate with turf horses at Churchill since 2019. These stats, coupled with the class drop, should be sufficient to land Basquiat in the winner’s circle.

Vulnerable favorite: Race 4, #8 Nineeleventurbo (5-2)

Nineeleventurbo is a logical contender in this 1 1/8-mile turf maiden special weight.

He was beaten just a neck at these conditions at Keeneland last month, but Nineeleventurbo has settled for second or third in seven consecutive races, so the son of More Than Ready seems more likely to secure a minor award than a victory. Against a full field of challengers at Churchill Downs, Nineeleventurbo probably isn’t the type to trust at a short price.

Live longshot: Race 8, #6 Souper Capacity (10-1)

The field for this $10,000 maiden claiming race didn’t come up very deep. None of the entrants have reached the 76 Brisnet Speed rating that stands as par for this class level and distance.

So why not take a shot with Souper Capacity, who has competed reasonably well against $10,000 and $12,500 claiming company at Oaklawn Park?

Trainer Norman McKnight (two wins from three starts at Churchill this meet) wins at a 43% rate with horses who transition from a sprint to a route and back to a sprint, which is exactly the pattern Souper Capacity brings to the table. At 10-1, she is worth including in the Derby City 6.

Good luck!