Keeler Johnson's picks and plays July 18

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July 18th, 2022

Handicapper J. Keeler Johnson shares picks and plays for Monday, July 18 at Colonial Downs, along with a ticket for the $443 Super High 5 carryover at Louisiana Downs.

Today’s special offers from TwinSpires include:

  • Colonial Downs All-Stakes Bet Back: Receive refunds on win bets (up to $10) if your horse finishes second or third in any eligible stakes on Mondays from July 18 through Aug. 1 at Colonial Downs.

Picks and Plays

Colonial Downs: Race 1: Maiden Special Weight (six furlongs, 1:45 p.m. ET)

Saratoga failed to card a single open, unrestricted maiden special weight for two-year-olds on opening weekend, which might explain why #6 Instinctual (2-1) has popped up at Colonial Downs. The Todd Pletcher-trained colt has been working at Saratoga, but lacked a suitable place to run on opening week.

Instinctual is a son of champion juvenile and young stallion Good Magic, who is siring 23% winners from first-time starters. Pletcher is 1-for-1 at Colonial this year, and hot jockey Irad Ortiz (a 32% winner teaming up with Pletcher over the last two months) is named to ride, cementing Instinctual as a key win threat.

#3 Two Phil’s (4-1) and #5 Occasional Moon (4-1) can battle for exacta honors.

  • $10 Exacta: 6 with 3,5 ($20)

Colonial Downs: Race 6: Van Clief S. (5 1/2 furlongs on turf, 4:05 p.m. ET)

#5 Front Run the Fed (4-1) is dropping in class after competing against graded stakes company in six of his last seven starts. Along the way, he’s placed a couple of times against graded rivals and finished sixth in the 2020 Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint (G1), beaten only 2 1/2 lengths.

Front Run the Fed hasn’t run since October, but trainer Caio Caramori wins at a 23% rate with horses returning from layoffs of 90 days or more, offsetting some of the layoff concerns. Irad Ortiz is taking over the mount, so let’s take advantage of the Colonial Downs All-Stakes Bet Back promotion and place a $10 win bet on Front Run the Fed.

#3 Just Might (8-5) can complete the exacta.

  • $10 to win on #5 Front Run the Fed
  • $10 Exacta: 5 with 3
    Total: $20

Colonial Downs: Race 8: Andy Guest S. (5 1/2 furlongs on turf, 5:01 p.m. ET)

Two-time graded stakes winner #8 Change of Control (3-1) has been knocking heads with some tough rivals, most recently coming home fourth against males in the Jaipur S. (G1) at Belmont Park. The veteran of 36 starts rarely misfires and should be tough to deny while dropping in class.

#4 Goin’ Good (4-1), who has cracked the trifecta half a dozen times against stakes company, is a logical choice to round out the exacta. But our first play will be a $10 win bet on Change of Control, in order to capitalize on the Colonial Downs All-Stakes Bet Back offer.

  • $10 to win on #8 Change of Control
  • $10 Exacta: 8 with 4
    Total: $20

Carryover Watch

Louisiana Downs, Race 7: $443 Super High 5 carryover (6:49 p.m. ET)

The Monday card at Louisiana Downs is noteworthy since the final race of the afternoon features a $443 non-jackpot carryover in the 50-cent Super High 5.

The finale is Race 7, a one-mile grass allowance for fillies and mares “which have never won a race other than maiden, claiming, or starter or which have never won two races.” That’s quite a mouthful of eligibility conditions, but the end result is a competitive field of nine, equating to 15,120 possible outcomes.

One of the key contenders is #8 Madam Henny (5-2), who posted a sharp 84 Brisnet Speed rating when finishing second in a 7 1/2-furlong turf test over this course and class level last month. She was only beaten three-quarters of a length by Katie’s Karat (a next-out winner with five consecutive victories under her belt), so it’s safe to say Madam Henny ran strongly.

But #6 My Alibi (6-1) also warrants a long look after cracking the trifecta in three straight races over the Louisiana Downs lawn. She finished just 2 1/2 lengths behind Madam Henny when third over this class level last month, and that effort marked My Alibi’s first run since September. If she steps forward in her second run of the season, My Alibi can outrun her morning line odds.

#7 Nisi Prius (2-1) finished fifth in her lone turf run to date, but that was a 1 1/16-mile allowance against arguably tougher competition at Lone Star Park. Shipping to Louisiana Downs might be the key to a stronger showing.

#9 Kenya Strike (12-1) is a longshot worth supporting. She’s finished first and second in a pair of $12,500 claimers for non-winners of two races lifetime at Louisiana Downs, which just happen to be her lone two turf tries to date. It’s worth noting trainer Gerald Romero has been on fire at Louisiana Downs this meet, going 4-for-9 (44%).

Speaking of hot trainers, Shane Wilson (a 27% winner this meet) is set to saddle #2 Abbey Lane (4-1), who exits a fourth-place finish in a five-furlong grass dash over this course and class level. Stretching out in distance holds the potential to produce a strong performance from the stoutly bred daughter of Mohaymen.

Here’s how we’ll bet the Super High 5:

  • 50-cent Super High 5: 8 with 2,6,7,9 with 2,6,7,9 with 2,6,7,9 with ALL ($60)

Good luck!