Keeler Johnson's picks and plays June 22

Profile Picture: J. Keeler Johnson

June 22nd, 2022

Handicapper J. Keeler Johnson shares picks and plays for Wednesday, June 22 at Delaware Park and Presque Isle Downs, along with a ticket for the $14,326 Super High 5 carryover at Churchill Downs.

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 Canterbury Park.
  • Rest of the World Bet Back: Receive refunds on win bets (up to $10) if your horse finishes second in eligible races at Happy Valley (Hong Kong).

Picks and Plays

Delaware Park: Race 2: Maiden Special Weight (five furlongs, 1:00 p.m. ET)

Since 2020, trainer Cathal Lynch has compiled an excellent 13-3-5-1 record debuting juveniles on dirt at Delaware Park. For those keeping count, that’s a 23% win rate and a 69% in-the-money rate.

With these stats in mind, we have to respect Lynch’s first-time starter #5 Shewillghostu (7-2) in this maiden sprint for two-year-old fillies. The daughter of Girvin has put together a lengthy work tab and will be ridden by apprentice jockey Madeline Rowland, which means Shewillghostu will benefit from a seven-pound weight allowance.

We’ll bet Shewillghostu to win and key her on top in the exacta.

  • $20 to win on #5 Shewillghostu
  • $5 Exacta: 5 with 2,4 ($10)
    Total: $30

Presque Isle Downs: Race 1: Maiden Special Weight (six furlongs, 1:30 p.m. ET)

#4 General Winston (9-5) ran well in his debut sprinting 5 1/2 furlongs over this track and class level on May 18, tracking the early pace before staying on to finish second. The third-place finish, Traveller, recently won a similar race at Presque Isle.

General Winston’s debut effort produced a solid 74 Brisnet Speed rating, and a sharp five-furlong workout since then suggests he still has upside for hot trainer S. Matthew Kintz. Therefore, we’ll key General Winston on top of #5 Lightning Charlie (5-2) in a cold exacta.

  • $25 Exacta: 4 with 5

Presque Isle Downs: Race 2: Maiden Special Weight (six furlongs, 1:57 p.m. ET)

#4 He’s a Mess (2-1) showed some tactical speed in a 6 1/2-furlong maiden special weight at Presque Isle last month, eventually staying on to finish second with a 76 Brisnet Speed rating that tops Wednesday’s field.

He’s a Mess finished 1 3/4 lengths clear of third-place finisher #5 Keystone Hank (9-5), who is back for a rematch. We’ll count on He’s a Mess to maintain his supremacy and spring a mild upset against this small field.

#1 Leonard’s Legacy (4-1), unraced since October, can challenge for an exacta finish after cranking out a series of fast workouts at Presque Isle.

  • $15 Exacta: 4 with 1,5 ($30)

Carryover Watch

Churchill Downs, Race 9: $14,326 Super High 5 carryover (2:20 p.m. ET)

In one sense, but not in others, the $14,326 Super High 5 carryover at Churchill Downs will be up for grabs earlier than usual when the racing week kicks off on Wednesday.

Unchanged from the norm, the $1 wager is available to play in the final race of the day—in this case, Race 9, a $20,000 starter allowance taking place over six furlongs on dirt. But the scheduled post time has been moved up due to extreme heat later in the day, so the race will take place at 2:20 p.m. ET, far earlier than usual. Don’t forget to play!

There’s a fair amount of speed entered in Race 9, so we’ll begin our ticket construction by keying #1 Don’t Forget (3-1) on top. The stretch-running six-year-old hasn’t missed the exacta in four starts since being claimed by trainer Aaron Shorter, most recently rallying to win a $20,000 starter allowance sprinting 6 1/2 furlongs at Churchill Downs by 1 3/4 lengths.

With three straight Brisnet Speed ratings in the 91-95 range under his belt, Don’t Forget is fast enough to win right back while sticking to the same track and class level. The fact he seems likely to receive a fair pace setup only adds to the appeal.

Who are the other logical contenders? #8 Wild Behavior (7-2) and #5 Rolling Fork (15-1) finished in a dead-heat for second place behind Don’t Forget at Churchill last month, and both are eligible to factor again. Wild Behavior is a pacesetter while Rolling Fork is a tracking/rallying type, so their contrasting running styles are appealing.

#7 Divine Leader (5-2) also has speed, and he was much the best in a $62,500 allowance optional claimer at Churchill two starts back, winning by 3 1/4 lengths with a 93 Brisnet Speed rating. But he weakened to finish fifth behind Don’t Forget last month and needs a rebound to challenge for a stronger finish on Wednesday.

If we toss #4 Devil’s Tower (10-1), #6 The Queens Jules (12-1), and #9 David’s Gem (10-1) into the mix for the minor awards, we should be well on our way to cashing in the Super High 5.

  • $1 Super High 5: 1 with 5,7,8 with 5,7,8 with 4,5,6,7,8,9 with 4,5,6,7,8,9 ($72)

Good luck!