Keeler Johnson's picks and plays June 9

Profile Picture: J. Keeler Johnson

June 9th, 2022

Handicapper J. Keeler Johnson shares picks and plays for Thursday, June 9 at Belmont Park and Churchill Downs, along with a ticket for the $38,162 Pick 5 carryover at Penn National.

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 Lone Star Park.
  • 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

Belmont Park: Race 3: Wonder Again S. (G2, about 1 1/8 miles on turf, 4:09 p.m. ET)

#3 Consumer Spending (4-5) won the Selima S. last fall with a sharp rally from off the pace, then closed ground gamely to finish sixth by only 1 3/4 lengths in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf (G1).

These efforts were promising, but Consumer Spending upped her game to an even higher level in her 2022 debut. Facing five rivals in the 1 1/16-mile Memories of Silver S. at Aqueduct, Consumer Spending overcame a slow early/fast late race shape to rally and beat Juvenile Fillies Turf heroine Pizza Bianca by three-quarters of a length.

Trainer Chad Brown has been ultra-hot at Belmont this meet, winning at a 37% rate, and jockey Manny Franco has won at a 38% rate teaming up with Brown over the last two months. Consumer Spending should be mighty tough to beat in the Wonder Again, with Keeneland’s Appalachian S. (G2) third-place finisher #7 Skims (5-2) the most likely to complete the exacta.

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

Trainer Mike Maker comes to the table with the fast-working youngsters #4 Fadethenoise (6-1) and #6 Top Recruit (4-1), both logical contenders to challenge on debut. But Maker’s 0-for-14 record debuting juveniles in dirt sprints at Churchill since 2017 is cause for pause, suggesting Fadethenoise and Top Recruit might benefit from running once or twice.

Let’s try to beat the Maker trainees with #7 Jeremy’s Jet (8-1). The son of Kentucky Derby (G1) winner Street Sense ran a gutsy race sprinting 4 1/2 furlongs over this track and class level on May 20, carving out the pace before finishing second by half a length. The 83 Brisnet Speed rating he posted isn’t far off the par winning figure (85) for Thursday’s conditions.

#8 Tivy (6-1), third in the May 20 maiden heat, can battle with the Maker trainees and #12 Johannes (5-1) to complete the trifecta.

  • $18 to win on #7 Jeremy’s Jet
  • $1 Trifecta: 7 with 4,6,8,12 with 4,6,8,12 ($12)
    Total: $30

Belmont Park: Race 8: Tremont S. (5 1/2 furlongs, 6:45 p.m. ET)

#4 No Nay Hudson (5-2) was tons the best in his debut dashing 4 1/2 furlongs at Keeneland, leading all the way to win by four lengths with a flashy 92 Brisnet Speed rating. The strength of this effort was reiterated when runner-up The Big Wam returned to finish second in the Kentucky Juvenile S. at Churchill Downs.

No Nay Hudson figures to be formidable in the Tremont, but don’t dismiss #8 Zelenskyy Strong (5-1) from consideration. Sire Uncaptured and half-brother Jackson both won at the stakes level as juveniles, so Zelenskyy Strong is bred to compete against good company from an early age. He smashed his debut sprinting 4 1/2 furlongs at Gulfstream by 10 3/4 lengths and appears to have a ton of talent.

We’ll box No Nay Hudson and Zelenskyy Strong in a large exacta.

  • $15 Exacta box: 4,8 ($30)

Carryover Watch

Penn National, Race 4: $38,162 Pick 5 carryover (7:22 p.m. ET)

Last Friday, Penn National hosted a stakes-packed race card highlighted by the $400,000 Penn Mile S. (G2). An extremely soft and tiring turf course may have been a factor in 83-1 longshot Wow Whata Summer springing a shocking surprise in the feature event.

The Penn Mile happened to serve as the kickoff leg of a $1 Pick 5, and while the remaining legs were hardly unpredictable—featuring four winners at odds of 11-2 or less—the 83-1 upset in the opener was sufficient to trigger a $38,162 Pick 5 carryover for Thursday’s card.

Let’s analyze the carryover sequence and assemble a ticket on a $36 budget:

Race 4: $5,000 Claiming (one mile and 70 yards)

#2 Relentless Ruby (2-1) is a logical favorite after finishing third in a pair of $7,500 claimers at Parx, including a one-mile heat on May 16. But #5 Bridge to Brooklyn (5-2) put up a bevy of competitive Brisnet Speed ratings against tougher competition last year and kicked off 2022 with a rallying fourth-place finish in a $5,000 claimer sprinting six furlongs. We’ll use both to start the Pick 5.

Race 5: Allowance (one mile)

#5 Better Yet (5-2) has won four of her last five starts at Penn National, but her recent victory in a $10,000 claimer at Penn National came by only a neck over #3 Sleepy N Joyful (7-2), victorious in four of her last six runs. If we use them both plus recent $6,250 claiming winner #1 Bird Traffic (9-2)—who hails from the hot stable of Timothy Kreiser—we should have a strong chance to survive this leg.

Race 6: $25,000 Allowance Optional Claiming (six furlongs)

#3 Venomous State (2-1) has won his last three starts against claiming competition at Penn National, including two comfortable wins since being claimed by high-percentage trainer Kimberly Graci. He looks like a good fit in this allowance optional claimer for Pennsylvania-breds, although #5 Newstome (3-1)—placed in three straight races over this track and class level—is a logical alternative.

Race 7: $10,000 Maiden Claiming (six furlongs)

#5 Sweet and Macha (9-5) finished second twice over this track and class level last month, earning excellent Brisnet Speed ratings of 64 and 61. Hot jockey Julio Hernandez (a 24% winner at Penn National) is named to ride, stamping Sweet and Macha as a viable single.

Race 8: $4,000 Claiming (six furlongs)

It’s tough to narrow down the key contenders in the competitive Pick 5 finale, but #1 Stone Sculptor (6-1), #6 Spikes Shirl (5-2), and #7 Torazo (7-2) have all run well in recent starts over this track and class level. We’ll use these three to conclude our ticket.

  • $1 Pick 5: 2,5 with 1,3,5 with 3,5 with 5 with 1,6,7 ($36)

Good luck!