Keeler Johnson's picks and plays for May 30
Handicapper J. Keeler Johnson shares picks and plays for Monday, May 30 at Churchill Downs, Pimlico, and Lone Star Park, along with a ticket for the mandatory-payout $588,485 Pick 6 carryover at Santa Anita.
Today’s special offers from TwinSpires include:
- Exacta Insurance: Receive refunds on exacta bets (up to $10) if your two selected horses finish in the first three home (but not in the winning order) at Belmont Park. Offer applies to straight exacta bets only.
- 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.
Picks and Plays
Pimlico: Race 3: Maiden Special Weight (4 1/2 furlongs, 1:46 p.m. ET)
#5 Laramore (3-1) is bred to win early for trainer John Robb. The two-year-old filly is a daughter of Tapiture (a Grade 2 winner as a juvenile) out of Flip the Switch, who broke her maiden at age two.
Robb wins at a lofty 32% rate with horses debuting in maiden special weights, and he’s gone 2-for-5 (40%) debuting juveniles at Pimlico since 2017, so the stats suggest Laramore will fire a strong shot on debut. We’ll bet her to win and key her over #1 Valdikava (5-2) and #3 Cocktail Dreaming (3-1) in the exacta and trifecta.
- $15 to win on #5 Laramore
- $5 Exacta: 5 with 1,3 ($10)
- $2.50 Trifecta: 5 with 1,3 with 1,3 ($5)
Churchill Downs: Race 7: Allowance (seven furlongs, 3:50 p.m. ET)
#6 Greener Pastures (9-2) is 2-for-2 sprinting over the Churchill Downs main track. After rallying from last place in a field of five to win a $50,000 claimer sprinting six furlongs last September, Green Pastures returned in November and charged from 11th position to nab a $50,000 starter allowance.
Greener Pastures kicked off 2022 with a decent runner-up effort in a $25,000 allowance optional claimer racing one mile over the Tapeta track at Turfway Park. Returning to the Churchill dirt and cutting back in distance can put Greener Pastures in the hunt for victory at a fair price.
Taking advantage of the Churchill Downs Bet Back offer, we’ll place a $10 win bet on Greener Pastures. Then we’ll play him over #10 A C Expressway (7-2) in the exacta.
- $10 to win on #6 Greener Pastures
- $5 Exacta: 6 with 10
Lone Star Park: Race 11: Texas Derby (1 1/16 miles, 8:01 p.m. ET)
#8 A. P.’s Secret (5-2) exits a tough renewal of the Wood Memorial (G2) at Aqueduct, in which he finished fourth by 5 1/4 lengths against the likes of Kentucky Derby (G1) fifth-place finisher Mo Donegal and Preakness S. (G1) winner Early Voting.
This effort produced a strong 105 Brisnet Speed rating, the highest figure in the Texas Derby field. A P.’s Secret is dropping in class for the Texas Derby and has the tactical speed to be prominent from the outset, so let’s bet him to win and key him over #3 Presidential (8-1) and #6 Got Thunder (12-1) in the exacta.
- $20 to win on #8 A. P.’s Secret
- $5 Exacta: 8 with 3,6 ($10)
Santa Anita, Race 5: $588,485 Pick 6 mandatory payout (6:18 p.m. ET)
Santa Anita is ready to celebrate Memorial Day in a big way. A trio of Grade 1 stakes are on the agenda, and two of them bookend a 20-cent Rainbow Pick 6 sequence featuring the mandatory payout of a $588,485 carryover.
Let’s examine the Pick 6 in race-by-race fashion, then assemble a budget-friendly $24 ticket:
Race 5: Shoemaker Mile (G1, one mile on turf)
The speedy #5 Smooth Like Strait (4-5) won this race last year and has since placed second and third by narrow margins in a bevy of tough stakes, including the Breeders’ Cup Mile (G1). Smooth Like Strait kicked off 2022 with a neck defeat in the Maker’s Mark Mile (G1) at Keeneland and should be tough to catch while returning to Santa Anita, where he boasts a 9-4-3-1 record on turf.
Race 6: $50,000 Maiden Claiming (6 1/2 furlongs)
#3 Warren’s Queen Bee (8-5) has finished second twice over this track and class level, most recently missing by half a length while putting up an 81 Brisnet Speed rating that easily tops Monday’s field. With hot jockey Juan Hernandez aboard, Warren’s Queen Bee looms as a logical single.
Race 7: $100,000 Maiden Claiming (one mile on turf)
#2 Isola Mia (5-2) has hit the board a couple of times against maiden special weight company over this track and distance, emerging as a deserving favorite while dropping in class under Juan Hernandez. But #4 Exit Soul (3-1) and #8 Sunny Morning (3-1) have likewise cracked the top four multiple times against tougher company at Santa Anita, and second-time starter #1 Roxbury (6-1) has upside for improvement while adding Lasix in her return from an extended layoff.
Race 8: Maiden Special Weight (six furlongs)
#1 Recall and Reload (2-1) has been training sharply for his debut and will be ridden by hot jockey Flavien Prat. But #5 Show Time (3-1) has also put together a solid work tab, and #6 Famous Star (9-5) is worth including after finishing second over this track, distance, and class level on April 16.
Race 9: Allowance (about 6 1/2 furlongs on turf)
You can make a case for many contenders in this competitive heat over the downhill turf course. We’ll spread deep with #3 Lansdowne (3-1), #5 Adare (10-1), #6 Cali Bay (4-1), #7 Cane Creek Road (4-1), and #8 Mubtadaa (7-2).
Race 10: Gamely S. (G1, 1 1/8 miles on turf)
Some folks might be tempted to single #6 Going Global (8-5), who has won seven turf stakes )including five at Santa Anita) since February 2021. But we’ll back her up with #3 Ocean Road (4-1), a former European campaigner who overcame a slow pace to rally and win a 1 1/8-mile grass allowance at Keeneland last month.
- 20-cent Pick 6: 5 with 3 with 1,2,4,8 with 1,5,6 with 3,5,6,7,8 with 3,6 ($24)