Keeler Johnson's picks and plays for May 4

Profile Picture: J. Keeler Johnson

May 4th, 2021

Handicapper J. Keeler Johnson shares his picks and plays for Tuesday, May 4 at Indiana Grand and Thistledown, including a ticket for the $3,984 Pick 6 carryover at Indiana Grand.

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.

The Midweek Bet Back and $18K Place Jackpot at Indiana Grand are other TwinSpires offers worth pursuing Tuesday.

Picks and plays

Indiana Grand, Race 1: Maiden special weight (five furlongs, 2:25 p.m. ET)

#5 Offaly Fast (1-1) is the heavy favorite in his maiden sprint for juvenile fillies, after she finished third and fourth in her first two starts at Keeneland.

But the daughter of Will Take Charge didn’t really take a step forward in her second run, which opens the door for #2 Secret Moment (20-1) or #3 Zanpai (20-1) to progress past the favorite and spring a surprise.

Secret Moment was less than stellar in her debut at Keeneland, when she finished sixth by a wide margin. Kanpai didn’t fare much better at Belmont Park, where she came home fourth. But Secret Moment and Kanpai are both trained by James Chapman, who wins at a 22% rate with second-time starters.

Chapman has already sprung a couple major upsets this year with juveniles in their second start. Last month, Chapman saddled Kavod (fourth in his debut at Keeneland) and Saucy Lady T (also fourth in her debut at Keeneland) to post victories at Belmont Park. Both Kavod and Saucy Lady T displayed substantial improvement off their initial efforts, and Chapman has two wins and a third from three starts with juvenile second-time starters this year.

We’ll box Secret Moment and Zanpei in the exacta with Offaly Fast and see if we can’t get one (or both) into the top two.

$5 exacta box: 2,3,5 ($30)

Indiana Grand, Race 3: $10,000 maiden claiming (5 1/2 furlongs, 3:27 p.m. ET)

#6 Pawn (1-1) looms as a logical choice, after she placed in a pair of maiden special weight races at Indiana Grand last fall, but she hasn’t run since November and might not be a lock to win off the layoff.

I’m more intrigued by #5 One Hot Chick (15-1), a first-time starter from the barn of Gary Patrick. Since 2020, Patrick has three wins from eight first-time starters at Indiana Grand.

One Hot Chick hails from a productive family, as her dam has foaled five winners from five starters. Hot jockey Malcom Franklin (a 27% winner at Indiana Grand) has the mount, and it is encouraging to note Franklin and Patrick won their only together over the last two months. All signs indicate One Hot Chick can outrun expectations on debut.

Let’s bet One Hot Chick to win and play her in the exacta over Pawn. We’ll also place a $5 place bet on One Hot Chick, to pursue the $18K Place Jackpot at Indiana Grand promotion.

$10 to win on #5 One Hot Chick
$5 to place on #5 One Hot Chick
$5 exacta: 5 with 6
Total: $20

Thistledown, Race 2: $7,500 claiming (six furlongs, 1:20 p.m. ET)

#4 Lilac Lace (2-1) hasn’t threatened for victory in three starts on dirt, but two of those were stakes (including the Grade 2 Adirondack at Saratoga), and she figures to be dangerous in her first try for a claiming tag.

Lilac Lace has been transferred to the barn of hot trainer Gary Johnson, a 31% winner at Thistledown this meet and a 25% winner with horses that run for the first time under his care. Johnson has enlisted jockey Angel Serpa (a 36% winner at Thistledown) to ride. Johnson and Serpa have four wins from 10 starts together over the last two months.

To take advantage of the Midweek Bet Back promotion, we’ll place a $10 win bet on Lilac Lace. Then we’ll play her over #3 Zippy Kitty (4-1) in a cold exacta.

$10 to win on #4 Lilac Lace
$5 exacta: 4 with 3
Total: $15

Carryover watch

Indiana Grand, Race 3: $3,984 Pick 6 Jackpot

There aren’t too many carryovers up for grabs Tuesday. The largest involving Thoroughbred racing at a U.S. racetrack is the $3,984 Straight Fire 6 jackpot at Indiana Grand.

The early legs of the 20-cent sequence don’t appear complicated. The Straight Fire 6 kicks off in the third race, where #6 Pawn (1-1) and #5 One Hot Chick (15-1) are the two we’re keen to use.

Race 4 should be straightforward, as well. The $5,000 claiming heat seems ripe for conquest by either the class-dropper #3 Tree Geniuses (8-5) or the capable #5 Pasion Azteca (9-2), who finished third with a tricky trip over this track and class level last month.

Race 5 should also be survivable with just two runners, as #2 Clear Steps (5-2) and #3 Don’t Mine Me (9-5) bring the best recent Brisnet Speed ratings to the equation on the drop from $25,000 and $20,000 claiming races into a $10,000 event.

The second half of the sequence is where things get tricky. Races 6-8 all drew a minimum of 10 entries, and standouts are tough to come by.

In Race 7, #8 Smokin Richie (5-2) figures to be a popular play in his debut for trainer Larry Rivelli, who wins at a 28% rate with first-time starters. But #2 Catch the Sparrow (3-1) has placed three times in this maiden special weight class level at Indiana Grand, and the 73 Brisnet Speed rating he posted when he finished third in his 2021 debut exceeds the par winning rating for Tuesday’s conditions.

If you want to take a stand somewhere, Race 6 might be the place.

#5 Karakontieparadise (3-1) is the field’s fastest runner in terms of Brisnet Speed ratings, but since she hasn’t run in 1 1/2 years. That leaves the well-bred duo of #6 Spare Cash (5-2) and #7 Country Time (7-2) as logical alternatives for high-percentage trainers Brad Cox and Steve Asmussen.

We’re certainly supporting a lot of chalk, aren’t we? Don’t worry, we’ll make up for it in Race 8, a maiden special weight at 7 1/2 furlongs on the turf course. You can make a case for almost all of the runners, so we’ll use almost all of them and hope to catch a longshot in the finale.

20-cent Straight Fire Pick 6: 5,6 with 3,5 with 2,3 with 6,7 with 2,8 with 1,2,4,5,6,7,8,9 ($51.20)

Good luck!