Keeler Johnson's picks and plays May 26

Profile Picture: J. Keeler Johnson

May 26th, 2022

Handicapper J. Keeler Johnson shares picks and plays for Thursday, May 26 at Horseshoe Indianapolis and Churchill Downs, including tickets for Churchill’s $8,609 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

Horseshoe Indianapolis: Race 2: Maiden Special Weight (7 1/2 furlongs on turf, 4:04 p.m. ET)

#4 Trouble Making (5-2) is the morning line favorite in this turf test for fillies and mares, but her form has slipped a bit in recent starts, and her 17-0-2-6 lifetime resume is cause for pause. She might be more likely to settle for a minor award than vie for victory.

Let’s try to beat Trouble Making with #1 Georgetown Road (4-1). The three-year-old daughter of Speightstown has only run once on grass, finishing seventh (beaten 6 1/4 lengths) in a 5 1/2-furlong maiden special weight at Keeneland. The competition should be a bit easier at Horseshoe Indianapolis, and stretching out in distance may help her chances.

Taking advantage of the Midweek Bet Back offer, we’ll place a $10 win bet on Georgetown Road. Then we’ll play her over Trouble Making and #8 Treasure of War (3-1) in the exacta.

  • $10 win: #1 Georgetown Road
  • $5 Exacta: 1 with 4, 8 ($10)
    Total: $20

Churchill Downs: Race 3: Maiden Special Weight (five furlongs, 5:58 p.m. ET)

Hot trainer Norm Casse has gone 13-3-5-1 (23%) at Churchill Downs this spring, and his lifetime record debuting juveniles over the Churchill dirt is impressive, standing at 8-for-28 (29%). This strong stat bodes well for the chances of Casse’s first-time starter #1A Les Bon Temps (7-5) on Thursday.

Les Bon Temps has shown meaningful speed in the morning, most recently clocking half a mile in :47 4/5 at Churchill Downs. Les Bon Temps is the second foal produced by Winsanity, whose first runner—The Man to See—matured early enough to break his maiden as a juvenile.

All signs suggest Les Bon Temps can fire a winning shot on debut, and the fact she’s coupled in the betting with the fast-working Mike Maker trainee #1 Towhead (7-5) is another positive. Clearly a win bet is in order, along with an exacta using #2 Fun Money (4-1) and #5 Mo Bonita (8-5) for second place.

  • $20 win: #1 Les Bon Temps
  • $10 Exacta: 1 with 2, 5 ($20)
    Total: $40

Churchill Downs: Race 5: Maiden Special Weight (5 1/2 furlongs, 6:56 p.m. ET)

#6 Little Mombo (4-5) is the fastest entrant on paper in this maiden dash for fillies and mares. She’s hit the board in all four of her starts against maiden special weight company at Oaklawn Park, even finishing second a couple of times while earning Brisnet Speed ratings of 78, 87, 86, and 79. Considering none of Little Mombo’s Thursday rivals have earned a Brisnet Speed rating higher than 79, she’s clearly the filly to beat.

But could #3 Ladybelucky (9-2) have upset potential? She’s finished fourth in all four of her starts to date while competing on turf and synthetic. Her Brisnet Speed ratings aren’t flashy, but switching to dirt could trigger improvement, considering Ladybelucky is a daughter of Preakness S. (G1) winner Lookin At Lucky out of dirt stakes winner Taletobetold.

Ladybelucky signaled her readiness for Thursday’s test by breezing a bullet three furlongs in :35 4/5 over the Churchill Downs main track, so let’s bet Ladybelucky to win and key her over Little Mombo in a cold exacta.

  • $15 win: #3 Ladybelucky
  • $5 Exacta: 3 with 6
    Total: $20

Carryover Watch

Churchill Downs, Race 8: $8,609 Super High 5 carryover (8:23 p.m. ET)

The racing week at Churchill Downs kicks off with an enticing $8,609 carryover on the table in the $1 Super High 5, which is available to play in the final race of the evening.

The event in question is a $30,000 maiden claimer taking place over one mile on the main track. It’s a challenging race to handicap because 10 horses have been entered, and most bring uninspiring form against tougher competition to the mix. It’s hard to know which ones (if any) will step forward while dropping in class.

But since the payoff is likely to be large for anyone who assembles a winning ticket, we’ll give it a shot. We’ll start by noting there’s barely any pace on paper, which could give #1 My Brother Cam (5-1) a tactical advantage. True, the three-year-old gelding failed to challenge in a six-furlong maiden special weight at Churchill Downs 19 days ago, racing near the back of the pack throughout to finish 10th. But that was a fast race, and My Brother Cam earned a solid 80 Brisnet Speed rating in his return from a four-month break.

My Brother Cam has shown tactical speed when running long in the past, even setting the pace in his debut racing 1 1/8 miles on turf at Aqueduct. He worked a fast half-mile in :47 flat at Churchill last week, so stretching back out in distance could place him on the lead this Thursday and trigger a winning performance.

If we key My Brother Cam on top of our Super High 5 tickets, then we have to respect #7 My Favorite Uncle (4-1) and #8 Scattershack (7-2) underneath. My Favorite Uncle has hit the board in four straight $30,000 maiden claimers running long at Oaklawn Park and Churchill, while Scattershack ran second in a $50,000 maiden claimer at Keeneland two starts back.

#10 Pudge Boy Palace (8-1) is another logical player. He misfired in a maiden special weight at Oaklawn last month and merely jogged to the finish line, but his previous two starts saw him place third in $40,000 and $30,000 maiden claimers over the same track. Adding Lasix while dropping back down in class can trigger a rebound.

#9 Big Redwhiteblue (10-1) also offers some longshot appeal. He finished eighth in his debut in a five-furlong maiden special weight during the spring of 2021 at Churchill Downs, but he’s been gelded since then and is adding blinkers and Lasix for his return.

  • $1 Super High 5: 1 with 7, 8 with 7, 8 with 9, 10 with all ($24)
  • $1 Super High 5: 1 with 7, 8 with 7, 8 with all with 9, 10 ($24)
    Total: $48

Good luck!