Keeler Johnson's picks and plays June 3

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June 3rd, 2022

Handicapper J. Keeler Johnson shares picks and plays for Friday, June 3 at Churchill Downs, Belterra Park, and Penn National, along with a ticket for the $34,350 Pick 5 carryover at Monmouth Park.

Today’s special offers from TwinSpires include:

  • Exacta Insurance: Receive refunds on exacta bets (up to $10) if your two selected horses finish in the first three home (but not in the winning order) at Santa Anita. Offer applies to straight exacta bets only.
  • Rest of the World Bet Back: Receive refunds on win bets (up to $10) if your horse finishes second in eligible races at Rosehill Gardens (Australia).
  • 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 4: Maiden Special Weight (5 1/2 furlongs, 2:13 p.m. ET)

Trainer Norm Casse knows what it takes to prepare a two-year-old to win on debut at Churchill Downs. His lifetime record with such runners stands at an impressive 9-for-21 (29%), including two winners and one runner-up from three starters this spring.

We’ll bet on Casse to keep his momentum going with the well-bred #6 Southlawn (3-1) on Friday. The daughter of Pioneerof the Nile was produced by the Uncle Mo mare Mo d’Amour, a debut-winning juvenile who won at the stakes level as a three-year-old.

Southlawn has put together a flashy work tab at Churchill Downs, highlighted by a swift half-mile in :47 1/5. Hot jockey Florent Geroux (3-for-7 teaming up with Casse over the last two months) is named to ride, so we’ll bet Southlawn to win and key her over #7 Wonder Wheel (4-1) in the exacta.

  • $20 to win on #6 Southlawn
  • $10 Exacta: 6 with 7
    Total: $30

Belterra Park: Race 9: Best of Ohio Diana S. (six furlongs, 4:51 p.m. ET)

#11 Amadevil (2-1) is a logical favorite after rattling off six victories from seven starts, including a couple of stakes triumphs. But all six of her victories have come at Thistledown, and she was beaten by #1 Tivis (4-1) when switching to Mahoning Valley for the six-furlong First Lady S. last fall.

Amadevil has shown a tendency to break sharply outward when starting from outside posts, so drawing post 11 in the Best of Ohio Diana is a possible concern. Anything less than a professional performance in this large field may allow Tivis to steal the show while saving ground from the rail draw.

We’ll bet Tivis to win and key her over Amadevil in the exacta.

  • $20 to win on #1 Tivis
  • $10 Exacta: 1 with 11
    Total: $30

Penn National: Race 5: Penn Oaks (one mile on turf, 7:10 p.m. ET)

#4 Haughty (4-5) broke her maiden in impressive fashion at Keeneland last fall before showcasing her class with a close third-place finish in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf (G1). Trainer Chad Brown has won the Penn Oaks twice before and figures to nab a third title with Haughty, who will be ridden by hot jockey Flavien Prat (a 32% winner teaming up with Brown over the last two months) in her sophomore debut.

Brown also conditions #6 Customer List (5-2), a fast-finishing debut winner at Monmouth Park last September. Customer List hasn’t run since, but her work tab from late April onward is identical to the one compiled by Haughty, suggesting the two have been working nicely in company together. Customer List is a logical choice to complete the Penn Oaks exacta under three-time Eclipse Award-winning jockey Irad Ortiz.

  • $20 to win on #4 Haughty
  • $10 Exacta: 4 with 6
    Total: $30

Carryover Watch

Monmouth Park, Race 1: $34,350 Pick 5 carryover (2:00 p.m. ET)

The racing week at Monmouth Park kicks off on a high note with a $34,350 Pick 5 carryover up for grabs in the 50-cent Pick 5.

Let’s analyze the sequence and assemble a ticket on a ~$50 budget:

Race 1: $12,500 Maiden Claiming (1 1/16 miles)

#2 Ice Bar (3-1) has placed multiple times against $16,000 maiden claiming and even maiden special weight company. Most recently fourth in a $25,000 maiden claimer at Parx Racing, Ice Bar looks tough to beat while dropping down the class ladder at Monmouth. We’ll single the son of Keen Ice to start the Pick 5.

Race 2: $12,500 Claiming (one mile and 70 yards)

#1 Hot and Heavy (9-2) flashed tactical speed when nabbing an $8,000 claimer over this track and distance by two lengths last month. He has a chance to win right back against tougher company, though the class-dropping #2 Luxero (4-1) has generally been running faster on the Brisnet Speed rating scale. New York shipper #6 Matty’s Express (5-2) also has the ability to factor in this competitive heat.

Race 3: $30,000 Claiming (five furlongs on turf)

#5 Lucago (5-2) has won three of his five starts sprinting against tougher competition on synthetic, but he’s never run on turf. Since switching surfaces is a question mark, we’ll back him up with New York raiders #1 Mischief Mogul (3-1) and #6 Sutton Valley (12-1), who both bring pacesetting speed to the table.

Race 4: $15,000 Allowance Optional Claiming (six furlongs)

#2 Get Groovy (9-2) broke her maiden in gate-to-wire fashion sprinting over this track last fall and could be tough to catch in her three-year-old debut. But #7 Rachel Caroline (8-1) hasn’t missed the trifecta in four dirt sprints at Monmouth, and #1 Wicked Jane (7-2) has the form to factor if she bounces back from a subpar effort in the slop at Monmouth last month.

Race 5: $16,000 Claiming (1 1/16 miles on turf)

#7 Theuncapturedlady (7-2) finished second over this surface and class level at Tampa Bay Downs last time out. But can she handle the class-dropping #6 Cool Front (9-2), exiting a solid fourth-place finish for a $25,000 tag at Tampa? And what about #4 Thefabulous Moolah (4-1), who recently flashed speed in a $30,000 claimer at Aqueduct? Even #3 Judge Judith (3-1), a speedster who wired a $16,000 maiden claimer at Tampa, must be considered. We’ll use all four to conclude the Pick 5.

  • 50-cent Pick 5: 2 with 1,2,6 with 1,5,6 with 1,2,7 with 3,4,6,7 ($54)

Good luck!