Keeler Johnson's picks and plays May 4

Profile Picture: J. Keeler Johnson

May 4th, 2022

Handicapper J. Keeler Johnson shares picks and plays for Wednesday, May 4 at Thistledown and Churchill Downs, including tickets for the $6,079 Super High 5 carryover at Churchill Downs.

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 Thistledown.
  • Rest of the World Bet Back: Receive refunds on win bets (up to $10) if your horse finishes second in any race at Sha Tin (Hong Kong).
  • 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 Churchill Downs. Offer applies to straight exacta bets only.
  • Kentucky Derby Week Money Back: Receive refunds on win bets (up to $10) if your horse finishes second or third in any eligible race at Churchill Downs. Credits will be issued within two hours after each race, so you can get right back in on the action.

Picks and Plays

Churchill Downs: Race 8: St. Matthews Overnight S. (six furlongs, 4:19 p.m. ET)

#1 Just Might (4-1) has been competing on grass as of late and couldn’t keep pace with Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint (G1) winner Golden Pal when finishing sixth in the Shakertown S. (G2) at Keeneland last month. But Just Might has lots of speed and boasts a 5-for-10 record on dirt, so I’m optimistic squaring off against easier company in the St. Matthews Overnight S. can trigger a competitive run.

Just Might won three stakes on dirt last summer and fall, twice posting flashy 100 Brisnet Speed ratings. Just Might appears fast enough to challenge for the lead while breaking from the rail on Wednesday, and his 4-1 morning line odds are enticing, so we’ll take a shot betting $10 to win on Just Might. Thanks to the Kentucky Derby Week Money Back offer, we’ll receive a refund if he finishes second or third.

We’ll throw stretch-running #6 Tulane Tryst (7-2) into the mix for a cold $10 exacta designed to capitalize on the Exacta Insurance promotion.

  • $10 to win on #1 Just Might
  • $10 Exacta: 1 with 6
  • Total: $20

Thistledown: Race 8: $5,000 Claiming (six furlongs, 4:20 p.m. ET)

The form of #4 Rosa’s Soul (5-2) might appear inconsistent at first glance, but if you toss out a couple of subpar showings racing one mile against tougher company, her résumé is hard to knock. Rosa’s Soul hasn’t missed the trifecta in her last five sprint starts, including a solid runner-up effort sprinting 5 1/2 furlongs over this class level at Mahoning Valley last month.

That effort produced a respectable 69 Brisnet Speed rating, stamping Rosa’s Soul as a logical contender for hot trainer Johanna Urieta (a 27% winner at Thistledown). Rosa’s Soul brings tactical speed to the table and looms as a logical win threat if morning line favorite and recent $5,000 maiden claiming winner #6 Island Winter (9-5) falters in her first start against winners.

Taking advantage of the Midweek Bet Back offer, we’ll place a $10 win bet on Rosa’s Soul. Then we’ll key her over Island Winter in a $10 exacta.

  • $10 to win on #4 Rosa’s Soul
  • $10 Exacta: 4 with 6
    Total: $20

Churchill Downs: Race 9: William Walker S. (5 1/2 furlongs on turf, 4:52 p.m. ET)

#4 Asymmetric (2-1) won three of his six starts as a juvenile in Europe last season, including the six-furlong Richmond S. (G2). He was even good enough to place third in the Prix Morny (G1) before ending the season with a close seventh-place finish (beaten only 1 1/4 lengths) in the Middle Park S. (G1).

Asymmetric has turned in a bevy of turf workouts at Keeneland and Churchill Downs in preparation for his U.S. debut under the care of high-percentage trainer Wesley Ward. Hot jockey Irad Ortiz (a 35% winner teaming up with Ward over the last two months) is named to ride, so all signs suggest Asymmetric can battle for victory.

#5 Big Invasion (9-5), a flashy winner of the five-furlong Texas Glitter S. at Gulfstream Park last time out, can complete the exacta. We’ll make it a $10 variety, in order to capitalize on the Exacta Insurance promotion.

We’ll also keep pursuing the Kentucky Derby Week Money Back offer with a $10 win bet on Asymmetric.

  • $10 to win on #4 Asymmetric
  • $10 Exacta: 4 with 5
    Total: $20

Carryover Watch

Churchill Downs, Race 10: $6,079 Super High 5 carryover (5:25 p.m. ET)

Kentucky Derby week at Churchill Downs wouldn’t be complete without a non-jackpot carryover or two. The first to pop up this week is a $6,079 carryover in the $1 Super High 5, available to bet in the 10th race on Wednesday afternoon.

The race in question is a $75,000 maiden claimer for fillies and mares racing 1 1/16 miles over the main track. A field of nine has turned out, with the vast majority dropping in class out of maiden special weights. It’s hard to know which ones will step forward on the class drop and which ones will misfire.

Case in point, what do we do with #9 Opening Night (7-2)? She hit the board in all four of her starts last season, including when second in a 1 1/16-mile maiden special weight at Churchill Downs. But Opening Night struggled in her 2022 debut, finishing seventh by a wide margin in a Feb. 11 maiden special weight racing 1 1/16 miles at Oaklawn Park. Can she bounce back while returning to Churchill Downs for her second run of the season?

Opening Night has trained sharply in recent weeks, even breezing a bullet five furlongs in :59 2/5 at Churchill, so there’s a lot to like about her chances. But in terms of Brisnet Speed ratings, the fastest filly in this field is #3 Butterbean (7-2), second and sixth in her last two starts against maiden special weight company at Gulfstream Park and Keeneland. Those efforts produced Brisnet Speed ratings of 84 and 83, and a similar number on Wednesday would place Butterbean right in the mix.

#8 Byzantine (3-1) hasn’t run quite as fast as Butterbean and Opening Night, but she’s placed twice in maiden special weights over the synthetic Tapeta track at Turfway Park, and her pedigree suggests switching to dirt won’t be an issue. What if Byzantine takes a big step forward in her dirt debut — couldn’t she challenge for trainer Rodolphe Brisset, who wins at a 26% rate with runners descending from maiden special weight to maiden claiming company?

As you can see, there are plenty of directions to go here, so we’ll try to play boldly and not overspend. We’ll key Opening Night on top, emphasize Butterbean and Byzantine underneath, and spread deep for the remaining slots.

  • $1 Super High 5: 9 with 3,8 with 3,8 with 1,2,4 with ALL ($30)
  • $1 Super High 5: 9 with 3,8 with 1,2,4 with 3,8 with ALL ($30)
    Total: $60

Good luck!