Keeler Johnson's picks and plays for May 3

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May 3rd, 2021

Handicapper J. Keeler Johnson shares his picks and plays for Monday, May 3 at Indiana Grand and Thistledown, along with tickets for jackpot Pick 5 and Pick 6 carryovers at Louisiana Downs.

Before you bet, remember to opt in to the TwinSpires Build Your Indiana Derby Day Bankroll offer. Wager at least $1,000 (excluding show wagers) 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: Maiden special weight (six furlongs, 2:25 p.m. ET)

#4 Lilacs (8-1) never really factored in her debut at Gulfstream Park last year, when she settled off the pace and faded to finish last by a wide margin. But she faced tough competition — the four fillies ahead of her have all gone on to break their maidens, including Herecomesthebride (G3) winner Con Lima and the stakes-placed Happy Constitution.

Lilacs hasn’t run since, but she has trained forwardly for her return, and most recently clocked a quick half-mile from the Keeneland starting gate in :47 2/5. Lilacs will add blinkers and Lasix for her 2021 debut, and jockey Deshawn Parker (a 17% winner at Indiana Grand) has the mount.

With all of these factors in her favor, Lilacs is worth a win wager. But we’ll also bet her to place. if we can cash a quartet of $5 place bets at Indiana Grand on Monday, we’ll earn a share of $1,500 in bonus cash through the TwinSpires $18K Place Jackpot at Indiana Grand. Cash seven $5 place bets, and we’ll split a $3,000 bonus pool.

$10 to win on #4 Lilacs
$5 to place on #4 Lilacs

Indiana Grand, Race 2: $10,000 maiden claiming (5 1/2 furlongs, 2:56 p.m. ET)

#1 Defence Model (3-5) is the heavy favorite, after he finished second in a $5,000 maiden claiming race at Indiana Grand in November, beaten just a head, and earned a 75 Brisnet Speed rating. But Defence Model hasn’t run since and will step up in class for Monday’s race, so we’ll take a shot against him, with #2 Riley Rich (5-1).

Conditioned by Indiana Grand’s leading trainer Randy Klopp (a 20% winner this meet), Riley Rich has already run once this season, when he dueled for the lead in a maiden special weight at Indiana Grand and weakened to finish eighth.

The drop to the maiden claiming ranks can help Riley Rich take a step forward under jockey Thomas Pompell, who wins at a 17% rate when he teams up with Klopp.

Defence Model can battle with #5 Jennstone (4-1) to round out the exacta and trifecta.

$10 to win on #2 Riley Rich
$5 to place on #2 Riley Rich
$5 exacta: 2 with 1,5 ($10)
$2.50 trifecta: 2 with 1,5 with 1,5 ($5)
Total: $30

Thistledown, Race 5: Allowance (six furlongs, 2:50 p.m. ET)

#2 Bareback Fun (8-1) has been on fire since she arrived on the Ohio circuit.

Under the care of high-percentage trainer Johanna Urieta, Bareback Fun finished fifth with a poor start in her local debut, then rattled off three straight victories by a minimum of 5 3/4 lengths. With her abundant speed, Bareback Fun was never headed in any of her victories and earned Brisnet Speed ratings in the 91-92 range.

Bareback Fun will step up in class for Monday’s allowance, where she’ll face a couple proven stakes winners. But she owns the best recent Brisnet Speed ratings in the field, and she will also retain the services of jockey Eric Barbaran, who wins at a 33% rate when he rides for Urieta.

Any way you slice it, Bareback Fun looks formidable at an overlaid price.

We’ll place a large win bet on Bareback Fun and call it a day.

$30 to win on #2 Bareback Fun


Louisiana Downs, Race 2: $203 Pick 6 Jackpot
Louisiana Downs, Race 3: $290 Pick 5 Jackpot

The Louisiana Downs meet quietly began Saturday, overshadowed no doubt by the Kentucky Derby (G1) program at Churchill Downs. Pool sizes were small in the Pick 5 and Pick 6 jackpots, but multiple winning tickets were sold, which triggered carryovers of $290 (50-cent Pick 5) and $203 (10-cent Pick 6) for Monday.

Those jackpot pools might not seem like much, but since they’re the only carryovers up for grabs at a North American Thoroughbred racetrack Monday, they’re bound to attract at least a little attention. And the Louisiana Downs pools sizes should be much larger on a quiet Monday than a Kentucky Derby Saturday.

Saturday’s Pick 6 returned $101.53 for a dime, even after four favorites, a second choice, and a third choice visited the winner’s circle. A theoretical $2 win parlay across the six winners would have returned just $52.86.

Horses who last raced at Fair Grounds enjoyed the most success on opening day at Louisiana Downs, with three wins in the seven races. Horses who exited races at Delta Downs snatched only a single victory, even though there were many Delta Downs runners in the entries.

Assuming the same trends hold true Monday (an abundance of winning favorites and strong representation from Fair Grounds), we should be able to hit the Pick 5 and Pick 6 on a modest budget. Let’s take a race-by-race look at the sequences, then assemble our tickets on a ~$50 budget.

Race 2: $12,500 claiming

The opening leg of the Pick 6 looks ripe for conquest by #1 Guilty Lover (5-2), who was runner-up for a $12,500 claiming tag at Fair Grounds.

But Guilty Lover has never run on turf, so we must also respect #6 Heavy Duty (3-1), who earned a solid 73 Brisnet Speed rating when he finished ninth in a $50,000 optional-claiming allowance  over the Fair Grounds grass.

Race 3: $5,000 claiming

#6 Sharperthanme (5-2) has cracked the trifecta in four straight $5,000 claiming races at Fair Grounds and showcased a variety of running styles.

She didn’t get a clean run when beaten a nose last time out and looks as a possible single in the Pick 5 kickoff leg, though for Pick 6 purposes, we’ll back her up with the class-dropping Fair Grounds shipper #4 Makati Phil (2-1).

Race 4: $12,500 claiming

#2 G’s a Looker (7-2), #3 Quiet Barbara (5-1), and #9 Vita (7-2) own the best turf form lines in this one-mile grass race. Vita in particular is enticing, after she hit the board a couple times against $15,000 company at Fair Grounds.

Race 5: Maiden special weight

#1 Firingtothefront (3-1), #4 Watrugonnadokaren (5-2), and #5 Broadway Fire (3-1) have all posted respectable Brisnet Speed ratings at Fair Grounds. One of the three should visit the winner’s circle.

Race 6: Allowance

#6 Taptime (2-1) has posted a series of encouraging efforts over the Fair Grounds turf course, but don’t sleep on the chances of #3 Areema (9-2), who will switch from dirt to turf for high-percentage trainer Karl Broberg.

The daughter of Hard Spun ran fine in a couple of grass starts on the Kentucky circuit last year.

Race 7: $5,000 claiming

#1 Slam’s Man (5-2) boasts a 2-2-0 record from six starts over the Louisiana Downs main track and exits a trio of races over this class level at Fair Grounds.

#3 Shakin Silver (5-2) has won two straight races at Fair Grounds, and #6 Cryptozonic (2-1) exits a steady third over this class level at Fair Grounds.

These three are tough to split, so we’ll use them all.

Race 2: 10-cent Pick 6 —1,6 with 4,6 with 2,3,9 with 1,4,5 with 3,6 with 1,3,6 ($21.60)
Race 3: 50-cent Pick 5 — 6 with 2,3,9 with 1,4,5 with 3,6 with 1,3,6 ($27)
Total: $48.60

Good luck!