Keeler Johnson's picks and plays July 4

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July 4th, 2022

Handicapper J. Keeler Johnson shares Independence Day picks and plays for Monday, July 4, at Belmont Park and Churchill Downs, including a ticket for Churchill’s $166,544 mandatory-payout Pick 6 carryover.

Today’s special offers from TwinSpires include:

  • 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

Churchill Downs: Race 7: Debutante S. (six furlongs, 3:50 p.m. ET)

#3 Wonder Wheel (7-2) showed plenty of promise in her debut sprinting 5 1/2 furlongs at Churchill Downs last month. The Mark Casse trainee settled off the early tempo before rallying smartly to win by 2 1/4 lengths.

As a daughter of three-time leading sire Into Mischief out of the Tiz Wonderful mare Wonder Gal, Wonder Wheel is bred to excel from an early age—her sire, dam, and dam sire all won stakes at age two. Throw in hot jockey Tyler Gaffalione (a 24% winner at Churchill this meet), and Wonder Wheel has a live chance to defeat #1 Crackalacking (7-2), #5 Les Bon Temps (5-2), and #7 Empire of My Own (9-5) in the dash to the finish line.

  • $6 Exacta: 3 with 1,5,7 ($18)
  • $2 Trifecta: 3 with 1,5,7 with 1,5,7 ($12)
    Total: $30

Churchill Downs: Race 8: Hanshin S. (one mile, 4:22 p.m. ET)

#7 Cody’s Wish (8-5) is 4-for-4 in one-turn miles like the Hanshin, including three wins against maiden and allowance company at Churchill Downs. The beautifully-bred son of Curlin is also proven against tougher competition, most recently trouncing the one-mile Westchester S. (G3) at Belmont Park by five lengths.

Cody’s Wish looks like a standout in the Hanshin, with Razorback H. (G3) winner #6 Plainsman (5-2) and Steve Sexton Mile (G3) runner-up #1 Mish (9-2) the most likely candidates to round out the exotics. We’ll bet the race accordingly with exacta and trifecta tickets.

  • $10 Exacta: 7 with 1,6 ($20)
  • $5 Trifecta: 7 with 1,6 with 1,6 ($10)
    Total: $30

Belmont Park: Race 9: Manila S. (one mile on turf, 5:12 p.m. ET)

#2 Annapolis (6-5), winner of the Pilgrim S. (G2) at Belmont last year, is a logical choice after kicking off 2022 with a runner-up effort in the Penn Mile (G2). But the Penn Mile took place over a soft and extremely tiring turf course at Penn National—can Annapolis produce another strong effort while exiting such a tough seasonal debut?

#3 Ready to Purrform (6-1) is an interesting alternative. The 2021 Laurel Futurity winner started his 2022 campaign with a close runner-up effort in the James W. Murphy S. over firm turf at Pimlico. Eclipse Award-winning jockey Joel Rosario takes over the mount for hot trainer Brad Cox.

Let’s place a win bet on Ready to Purrform, then key him over Annapolis in the exacta.

  • $15 to win on #3 Ready to Purrform
  • $5 Exacta: 3 with 2
    Total: $20

Carryover Watch

Churchill Downs, Race 4: $166,544 Pick 6 mandatory payout (2:13 p.m. ET)

The Churchill Downs spring meet concludes on Independence Day with a $166,544 carryover in the Derby City 6 slated for mandatory payout.

Let’s take a race-by-race look at each leg of the 20-cent Pick 6 wager, then assemble a ticket for less than $50:

Race 4: Maiden Special Weight (six furlongs)

First-time starters #4 Stunningly (5-2), #5 Brisbane Road (8-1), and #6 Forever Dixie (4-1) have posted encouraging workouts and are conditioned by trainers who win at solid rates with first-time starters. We’ll use all three to start the Derby City 6.

Race 5: $62,500 Allowance Optional Claiming (one mile)

#7 Roderick (7-2), runner-up racing 1 1/8 miles over this track and class level last month, has the tactical speed to contend while cutting back in distance. Stakes winner #3 Gagetown (10-1) and the speedy #1 Enid (4-1) are other logical contenders, and the consistent #8 Skyro (4-1) is eligible to factor while switching from turf to dirt.

Race 6: Bashford Manor S. (six furlongs)

#1 Gulfport (4-5) smashed his debut at Churchill Downs by seven lengths, earning a flashy 92 Brisnet Speed rating that tops the Bashford Manor field. The well-bred son of Uncle Mo looms as a logical single.

Race 7: Debutante S. (six furlongs)

#3 Wonder Wheel (7-2) is our top choice as mentioned earlier, but for Derby City 6 purposes, we’ll use her in equal strength with #1 Crackalacking (7-2), #5 Les Bon Temps (5-2), and #7 Empire of My Own (9-5).

Race 8: Hanshin S. (one mile)

We’ve already outlined our case for #7 Cody’s Wish (8-5) as a standout favorite, so we’ll make him a single in the penultimate leg of the Derby City 6.

Race 9: $80,000 Allowance Optional Claiming (1 1/8 miles)

#9 Warrior Johny (4-1) smashed a one-mile maiden special weight by 12 3/4 lengths at Churchill last month, but can he repeat the feat in his first start against winners? This is a deep field with many viable contenders, so we’ll include #2 Just Call Ray (8-1), #5 Gilded Age (5-1), #7 War Campaign (8-1), and #12 Hippodrome (10-1) for good measure.

  • 20-cent Pick 6: 4,5,6 with 1,3,7,8 with 1 with 1,3,5,7 with 7 with 2,5,7,9,12 ($48)

Good luck!