Keeler Johnson's picks and plays for Oct. 1
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- Churchill Downs Bet Back: Get the value of your win bet back in bonus credit (up to $10) if your horse finishes second or third in eligible races on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays from Sept. 17 through Oct. 3 at Churchill Downs.
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- Rest of the World Bet Back: Receive refunds on win bets (up to $10) if your horse finishes second in any race at Ascot (United Kingdom).
- 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 Santa Anita. Offer applies to straight exacta bets only.
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Picks and Plays
#1 Freelancer (3-1) made an excellent impression in his Aug. 8 debut, a six-furlong sprint at Ellis Park. After he dueled for the lead, through quick fractions of :22.41 and :45.36, the Godolphin homebred kicked away and ran the final-quarter mile in :24.43 to beat a strung-out field by 2 3/4 lengths.
Freelancer reached the finish line in 1:09.79 to earn an 89 Brisnet Speed rating, the best figure in Friday’s field. The son of Medaglia d’Oro has trained strongly since and will stick to the same six-furlong distance at Churchill Downs, which sets the stage for a triumphant second start.
To take advantage of the Churchill Downs Bet Back offer, we’ll place a $10 win bet on Freelancer, then key him on top of a deep trifecta ticket.
$10 to win on #1 Freelancer
$1 trifecta: 1 with 2,3,4,6 with 2,3,4,6 ($12)
#4 Forbidden Kingdom (2-1) showed impressive grit and determination to win his debut, a 5 1/2-furlong sprint over the Del Mar dirt. The Richard Mandella trainee carved out fast splits of :21.92 and :45.51, then dug deep down the homestretch to win by a half-length, over Kamui, who came back to dominate his second start by six lengths.
From a pedigree perspective, Forbidden Kingdom should handle the switch to turf. Sire American Pharoah won the 2015 Triple Crown but has developed a reputation for passing on turf prowess, with Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf Sprint (G2) winner Four Wheel Drive among his most successful progeny.
#7 Time to Party (4-1) can battle with the undefeated duo of #2 One Timer (5-2) and #5 Miss Alacrity (5-2) for the minor awards.
$20 to win on #4 Forbidden Kingdom
$2.50 trifecta: 4 with 7 with 2,5 ($5)
$2.50 trifecta: 4 with 2,5 with 7 ($5)
The undefeated #4 Grace Adler (9-5) is the morning-line favorite, after she dominated the Del Mar Debutante (G1) by 11 1/4 lengths. But the daughter of Curlin was the beneficiary of a pace meltdown and might not receive as favorable a setup Friday.
Instead, we’ll favor #1 Electric Ride (3-1). Trained by John Sadler, Electric Ride was breathtaking in her Aug. 28 debut, a six-furlong sprint at Del Mar, where she tracked the early pace and kicked clear to win by 8 1/2 lengths. She was never asked for her best but still managed to produce a 90 Brisnet Speed rating.
There isn’t a ton of speed in the Chandelier, so if Electric Ride secures a comfortable, pace-stalking trip, she can prove tough to catch down the homestretch.
We’ll bet Electric Ride to win and key her on top of a trifecta.
$20 to win on #1 Electric Ride
$2 trifecta: 1 with 2,3,4 with 2,3,4 ($12)
The Friday card at Belmont Park might not be packed with graded stakes, but it has an enticing draw for bettors — a carryover in the $1 Pick 6.
A complicated sequence is on tap for the non-jackpot wager. Every race contains at least eight horses, and there are 64 entries before scratches, which equates to 1,216,512 possible outcomes.
If you’re keen to play the carryover on a reasonable budget, we’re here to help with a couple suggested singles.
Race 4: #7 Cazilda Fortytales (8-5)
Cazilda Fortytales looks like a class standout. The four-year-old filly performed admirably against tougher company during the Saratoga meet, where she finished second and third in a pair of $25,000 claimers.
Cazilda Fortytales owns strong Brisnet Speed ratings and is versatile in terms of running style, so a clean trip should be in the offing under jockey Irad Ortiz. Trainer Orlando Noda also wins at a 21% rate in claiming races, so we should have a recipe for victory.
Race 8: #8 Myhartblongstodady (8-5)
With the exception of two graded stakes attempts, Myhartblongstodady hasn’t missed the board in 14 starts, which includes a 5-3-2 record from 13 starts on turf.
The six-year-old daughter of Scat Daddy is consistent against allowance and listed stakes company, and most recently came home second by less than a length in the Yaddo H., against fellow New York-breds at Saratoga.
With recent Brisnet Speed ratings of 91 and 92, Myhartblongstodady is fast enough to vie for victory in the John Hettinger S.
The 1 1/8-mile distance over Belmont’s inner turf course should suit Myhartblongstodady, and she finished ahead of key rivals #9 Classic Lady (5-2) and #1 Pecatonica (4-1) in the Yaddo.
If Myhartblongstodady runs her typical race, she can win the John Hettinger as a short-priced single.