Keeler Johnson's picks and plays June 29

Profile Picture: J. Keeler Johnson

June 29th, 2022

Handicapper J. Keeler Johnson shares picks and plays for Wednesday, June 29 at Churchill Downs, Delaware Park, and Horseshoe Indianapolis, including a ticket for Churchill’s $5,982 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.

Picks and Plays

Churchill Downs: Race 4: Maiden Special Weight (5 1/2 furlongs, 2:13 p.m. ET)

Trainer J. R. Caldwell hasn’t saddled a horse at Churchill Downs in several years, but back in 2017 he compiled an excellent 15-for-63 (24%) record at this track.

Caldwell will return to Churchill on Wednesday with #8 Jordan (6-1), an unraced daughter of Triple Crown winner Justify. Justify is off to a hot start at stud, siring 38% winners from first-time starters, and Jordan’s dam Natural Rush has already foaled the two-time stakes-winning sprinter Wyatt’s Town.

Jordan has put together a solid work tab at Lone Star Park, capped off by a fast half-mile from the starting gate in :46 4/5. She appears to have a live chance at upsetting logical favorite #4 Shoplifter (8-5) in the dash to the finish line.

We’ll play the race accordingly with a win bet and exacta.

  • $20 to win on #8 Jordan
  • $10 Exacta: 8 with 4
    Total: $30

Delaware Park: Race 6: Stanton S. (six furlongs, 3:00 p.m. ET)

#1 Witty (7-5) misfired when trying turf in the Penn Mile S. (G2) earlier this month, finishing seventh over a challenging soft course.  But the three-year-old gelding dominated his previous three starts on dirt by daylight margins, most notably smashing the seven-furlong Spectacular Bid S. at Laurel Park by 7 3/4 lengths.

This blowout victory produced a flashy 97 Brisnet Speed rating, and the form was flattered when both the runner-up (the three-time stakes-placed Coastal Mission) and the third-place finisher (subsequent Miracle Wood S. winner Local Motive) returned to win their next starts. If Witty recaptures this form while returning to dirt, he can lead home the stakes-placed #3 Crabs N Beer (3-1) to win the Stanton.

  • $30 Exacta: 1 with 3

Horseshoe Indianapolis: Race 9: Maiden Special Weight (one mile on turf, 6:33 p.m. ET)

#5 No Proof (5-2) looks like a perfect fit for this one-mile turf maiden special weight. He actually crossed the wire first by a nose over this track, distance, and class level on May 17, only to be disqualified for interfering with runner-up Jeopardy Theory, who dominated an allowance in his next start.

No Proof and Jeopardy Theory pulled 11 lengths clear of the May 17 third-place finisher, so it’s safe to say No Proof ran a strong race. He’s since finished second by a neck in a 1 1/16-mile maiden special weight on dirt, so his form remains strong. Returning to turf and adding blinkers for Wednesday’s heat might be all No Proof needs to cruise to an official maiden victory.

#7 Aeroballistic (7-2) and #12 Presto Bench (3-1) look like the key contenders to complete the exacta, but our first play will be a $10 win bet on No Proof, in order to capitalize on the Midweek Bet Back promotion.

  • $10 to win on #5 No Proof
  • $5 Exacta: 5 with 7,12 ($10)
    Total: $20

Carryover Watch

Churchill Downs, Race 8: $5,982 Super High 5 carryover (4:22 p.m. ET)

The racing week at Churchill Downs kicks off on Wednesday with a $5,982 Super High 5 carryover up for grabs.

If you play Churchill’s Super High 5 on a regular basis, you know the $1 wager is available to bet in the final race of the day—in this case, Race 8, a $30,000 maiden claimer taking place over six furlongs on dirt.

Nine horses have been entered (equating to 15,120 possible outcomes), and I’m keen to support morning line favorite #9 Lunch Lady (3-1). The daughter of Jimmy Creed ran well in her debut for a $50,000 maiden claiming tag at Churchill last month, carving out a solid pace in a 6 1/2-furlong sprint before weakening to finish fourth.

Lunch Lady was claimed out of that event by trainer Chris Hartman, an excellent 25% winner this year and an 18% winner with new claiming acquisitions. Dropping down to the $30,000 maiden claiming level should make Lunch Lady tough to catch under jockey Mitchell Murrill, who has won at a 21% rate teaming up with Hartman over the last two months.

Who are the other key contenders? We have to respect #8 Oaxaca (9-2), a speedy sophomore who ran second in a 5 1/2-furlong dash over this track and class level on June 10. #6 Rufa Red Knot (4-1) might have an even stronger chance after finishing second in a $20,000 maiden claimer sprinting six furlongs at Churchill, beaten only three-quarters of a length after pressing a quick pace. And with all this speed in the mix, it’s not a stretch to think #1 Mrs. Nushi (9-2) and #4 Lunar Ice (6-1) will be closing from off the pace, since both have already placed at the $30,000 maiden claiming level.

If we key Lunch Lady on top and emphasize Rufa Red Knot, Mrs. Nushi, Lunar Ice, and Oaxaca for the minor awards, we can spread a bit deeper for the final slot of our ticket and hopefully win a share of the carryover.

  • $1 Super High 5: 9 with 1,4,6 with 1,4,6,8 with 1,4,6,8 with 1,2,3,4,6,7,8 ($72)

Good luck!