Keeler Johnson's picks and plays June 2

Profile Picture: J. Keeler Johnson

June 2nd, 2022

Handicapper J. Keeler Johnson shares picks and plays for Thursday, June 2 at Horseshoe Indianapolis and Churchill Downs, including tickets for Churchill’s $5,144 Super High 5 carryover.

Today’s special offers from TwinSpires include:

  • Midweek Bet Back: Receive refunds on win bets (up to $10) if your horse finishes second in select races at Horseshoe Indianapolis.
  • 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.
  • $20,000 Twilight Thursday Leaderboard: Place $10+ win bets at Churchill Downs to play for your share of a $2,000 weekly jackpot.

Picks and Plays

Churchill Downs: Race 2: Maiden Special Weight (5 1/2 furlongs, 5:29 p.m. ET)

#5 Cigarette Boat (3-1) showed promise in his debut over this track and class level on May 4. Despite breaking a bit slowly at the start of the five-furlong dash, Cigarette Boat gained ground late to finish second with an encouraging 76 Brisnet Speed rating.

Trainer Norm Casse has been hot at Churchill this spring, compiling a 19-5-6-2 (26%) record, and Cigarette Boat has come back to post a couple of half-mile workouts at Churchill. Jockey Joe Talamo (a 50% winner teaming up with Casse over the last two months) is named to ride, so we’ll bet Cigarette Boat to win and key him over #1 Curly Jack (7-2) and #2 Boxster (12-1) in the exacta.

  • $10 to win on #5 Cigarette Boat
  • $5 Exacta: 5 with 1,2 ($10)
    Total: $20

Churchill Downs: Race 6: $20,000 Maiden Claiming (6 1/2 furlongs, 7:25 p.m. ET)

#3 Teo (7-2) has posted three straight Brisnet Speed ratings in the 70-72 range while competing against tougher competition. The son of Cairo Prince was especially sharp in a $30,000 maiden claimer sprinting six furlongs over a sloppy Churchill Downs main track last month, dueling for the lead through hot fractions of :21.20 and :44.76 before weakening late to finish fourth.

Dropping down to the $20,000 maiden claiming level can send Teo to the winner’s circle for the hot jockey/trainer duo of Tyler Gaffalione and Steve Asmussen, who have teamed up to win at a 22% rate over the last two months.

Taking advantage of the Churchill Downs Bet Back promotion, we’ll place a $10 win bet on Teo. Then we’ll key him over fellow class-droppers #5 Tangled Emotions (4-1) and #9 Lookinforexcitemen (4-1) in the exacta.

  • $10 to win on #3 Teo
  • $5 Exacta: 3 with 5,9 ($10)
    Total: $20

Horseshoe Indianapolis: Race 8: Allowance (six furlongs, 7:07 p.m. ET)

After spending her first three starts competing over the synthetic Tapeta track at Turfway Park (where she finished third in a maiden special weight), #3 Buoy (2-1) relished switching to dirt at Horseshoe Indianapolis last month. Favored at 3-10 to win a 5 1/2-furlong maiden special weight for Indiana-bred fillies and mares, Buoy settled a couple lengths off the early speed before rallying to beat a next-out winner by 1 3/4 lengths.

We’ll count on Buoy to produce another strong effort while squaring off against winners for the first time. Capitalizing on the Midweek Bet Back offer, we’ll place a $10 win bet on Buoy and receive a refund if she settles for second place. Then we’ll box her in the exacta with #5 Starlet Express (6-1).

  • $10 to win on #3 Buoy
  • $5 Exacta box: 3,5 ($10)
    Total: $20

Carryover Watch

Churchill Downs, Race 8: $5,144 Super High 5 carryover (8:23 p.m. ET)

It isn’t easy to hit the $1 Super High 5 at Churchill Downs, which is why Thursday’s card features a $5,144 carryover in the challenging non-jackpot wager.

The prize pool is up for grabs in Race 8, an allowance for fillies and mares sprinting seven furlongs on dirt. With nine entries in the mix, there are “only” 15,120 possible outcomes to consider. Playing them all would cost $15,120 for a $1 wager, but we can reduce the possibilities down to a mere 1,680 if we’re willing to key #5 Pharoah’s Heart (3-1) on top.

A daughter of 2015 Triple Crown winner American Pharoah, Pharoah’s Heart has cracked the exacta in five of her six starts, and her lone miss came when finishing fourth against much tougher competition in the 1 1/8-mile Santa Margarita S. (G2) during the spring of 2021. After spending nearly 10 months on the sidelines, Pharoah’s Heart returned during the winter at Oaklawn Park and promptly finished second in back-to-back allowance sprints.

Pharoah’s Heart’s comeback effort was especially strong, as she charged hard from off the pace to finish second by a head against next-out winner Joyful Cadence, who recently finished second by less than a length in the Winning Colors S. (G3) at Churchill Downs. Pharoah’s Heart was rewarded with a 91 Brisnet Speed rating, exceeding the career-best figures belonging to all of her Thursday rivals.

Who should we use underneath Pharoah’s Heart? #9 Be Like Water (6-1) is an appealing choice. She hasn’t missed the exacta in two starts sprinting on dirt, including a recent maiden score at Keeneland that produced a 90 Brisnet Speed rating.

#8 Social Dilemma (5-1) is another must-use contender after finishing second in three straight allowance heats at Churchill Downs. On May 5, she returned from a winter layoff with an impressive performance in a six-furlong dash, gaining four lengths in the final furlong alone to miss victory by a head.

#6 Minute Waltz (7-2) hasn’t run since November, but she’s placed against stakes company and has the Brisnet Speed ratings to challenge for a strong finish.

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

  • $1 Super High 5: 5 with 6,8,9 with 6,8,9 with 6,8,9 with ALL ($30)
  • $1 Super High 5: 5 with 6,8,9 with 6,8,9 with ALL with 6,8,9 ($30)
    Total: $60

Good luck!