Keeler Johnson's picks and plays May 19

Profile Picture: J. Keeler Johnson

May 19th, 2022

Handicapper J. Keeler Johnson shares $65 worth of picks and plays for Thursday, May 19 at Churchill Downs, including a pair of win bets capitalizing on the Churchill Downs Bet Back promotion.

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 Belmont 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.

Picks and Plays

Churchill Downs: Race 1: Maiden Special Weight (five furlongs on turf, 5:00 p.m. ET)

#3 Cadillac Candy (7-2) showed promise in his debut sprinting 5 1/2 furlongs over the Keeneland turf course last month. After settling in midpack, the Rusty Arnold trainee rallied to finish second, beaten only two lengths with a 75 Brisnet Speed rating that tops Thursday’s field.

Arnold wins at a 21% rate with second-time starters, significantly higher than his 4% win rate with debuting runners since 2019. These stats suggest Cadillac Candy will move forward in his second run under colors, so we’ll bet him to win (taking advantage of the Churchill Downs Bet Back promotion) and key him over first-time starters #1 Island Swagger (5-1) and #5 Reason’s Legacy (6-1) in the exacta.

  • $10 to win on #3 Cadillac Candy
  • $5 Exacta: 3 with 1,5 ($10)
    Total: $20

Churchill Downs: Race 2: $30,000 Maiden Claiming (six furlongs, 5:29 p.m. ET)

#5 Oiler (2-1) looks like a potential standout while dropping down to the $30,000 maiden claiming level. The Mike Maker trainee exits a couple of promising efforts against $50,000 company at Oaklawn Park, finishing second on March 5 and third on April 9.

All told, Oiler has competed six times, putting up Brisnet Speed ratings of 68, 85, 74, 73, 71, and 78. Considering none of his rivals have earned a Brisnet Speed rating higher than 67, Oiler is easily the fastest entrant on paper. Throw in the fact he’ll be ridden by Tyler Gaffalione (a 33% winner teaming up with Maker over the past two months), and Oiler is worth betting to win and keying over #1 Go Virtual (5-2) and #3 Ox Doc (4-1) in the exacta.

  • $20 to win on #5 Oiler
  • $5 Exacta: 5 with 1,3 ($10)
    Total: $30

Churchill Downs: Race 8: Maiden Special Weight (6 1/2 furlongs, 8:23 p.m. ET)

#8 Eivissa (5-2) knocked heads with some tough rivals last season. After finishing second in a one-mile maiden special weight at Ellis Park (beaten only by future Grade 1 winner Juju’s Map), Eivissa ran second over the same distance and class level at Keeneland, trailing next-out Rags to Riches S. winner Sandstone but finishing ahead of future Kentucky Oaks (G1) winner Secret Oath.

Eivissa hasn’t run since October, but trainer Brendan Walsh wins at a 20% rate with horses returning from long layoffs, and hot jockey Tyler Gaffalione is picking up the mount. Gaffalione and Walsh have teamed up to win at a 26% rate over the last two months, so let’s bet Eivissa to win (following along with the Churchill Downs Bet Back offer) and key her over coupled entrymates #1 Swift Thinker (2-1) and #1A Sunny River (2-1) in the exacta.

  • $10 to win on #8 Eivissa
  • $5 Exacta: 8 with 1 ($25)
    Total: $15

Good luck!