Keeler Johnson's picks and plays May 6

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May 6th, 2022

Handicapper J. Keeler Johnson shares picks and plays for Friday, May 6 at Churchill Downs, along with suggested singles for a pair of non-jackpot carryovers at Lone Star 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 Oaklawn Park. 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 any race at Kembla Grange (Australia).
  • 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 1: $80,000 Allowance Optional Claiming (1 1/16 miles, 10:30 a.m. ET)

#3 Idiomatic (4-1) was a sharp debut winner over the synthetic Tapeta track at Turfway Park last month, rallying from behind the leaders to win a one-mile maiden special weight by three lengths. The result was a promising 85 Brisnet Speed rating.

As a daughter of Preakness S. (G1) winner Curlin out of Kentucky Oaks (G1) third-place finisher Lockdown, Idiomatic is bred to thrive on dirt. Trainer Brad Cox wins at a 26% rate with horses transitioning from synthetic to dirt, so let’s take advantage of the Kentucky Derby Week Money Back offer and place a $10 win bet on Idiomatic.

#8 Fannie and Freddie (3-1) is a logical choice for exacta honors.

  • $10 to win on #3 Idiomatic
  • $5 Exacta: 3 with 8
    Total: $15

Churchill Downs: Race 2: Maiden Special Weight (one mile, 11:00 p.m. ET)

#11 Inventing (7-5) ran strongly in her debut sprinting seven furlongs at Gulfstream Park, overcoming a stumble at the start to rally from two lengths behind a quick pace and finish second. The bay filly was only beaten half a length while posting a 94 Brisnet Speed rating, the highest figure in Friday’s field by eight points.

As a daughter of Belmont S. (G1) winner Union Rags out of a mare by stamina influence Giant’s Causeway, Inventing should appreciate stretching out over one mile for trainer Todd Pletcher, who wins at a 24% rate with horses running long for the first time.

We’ll place a $10 win bet on Inventing (taking advantage of the Kentucky Derby Week Money Back offer), then key her over #10 Misread (7-2) in the exacta.

  • $10 to win on #11 Inventing
  • $5 Exacta: 11 with 10
    Total: $15

Churchill Downs: Race 5: Modesty S. (G3, 1 1/8 miles on turf, 12:43 p.m. ET)

Five starts, five victories. #8 Bleecker Street (9-5) has been unstoppable so far. Conditioned by four-time Eclipse Award-winning trainer Chad Brown (who is renowned for his success saddling fillies and mares on turf), Bleecker Street arrives at Churchill off stretch-running victories in the Endeavour S. (G3) and Hillsborough S. (G2) at Tampa Bay Downs.

Bleecker Street has a powerful stretch kick and picks up hot jockey Flavien Prat (a 28% winner on turf), so she’ll have every chance to keep her perfect record intact in the Modesty. In addition to a $10 win bet (we can’t skip over the Kentucky Derby Week Money Back offer), we’ll key Bleecker Street over #1 Fluffy Socks (3-1) and #4 She Can’t Sing (8-1) in the exacta.

  • $10 to win on #8 Bleecker Street
  • $5 Exacta: 8 with 1,4 ($10)
    Total: $20

Carryover Watch

Lone Star Park, Race 3: $2,455 Pick 6 carryover (8:31 p.m. ET)
Lone Star Park, Race 4: $11,756 Pick 5 carryover (8:59 p.m. ET)

Fans of non-jackpot carryovers will have not one, but two enticing prize pools to chase on Friday night at Lone Star Park. The Pick 6 has a $2,455 carryover, while the overlapping Pick 5 boasts an even larger $11,756 pot.

Both wagers feature low 12% takeout rates, and they offer consolation payoffs to bettors who select all but one winner (or the most winners on days when no one assembles a winning ticket).

After analyzing the card, we’ve identified a pair of potential singles (two in the Pick 6 and one in the Pick 5) worth building tickets around.

Race 3: Maiden Special Weight (six furlongs): #1 Imperial Red Bird (2-1)

The opening leg of the Pick 6 offers a possible standout in the form of Imperial Red Bird. Whereas morning line second choice #3 Rush the Colors (5-2) is a 0-for-10 maiden with half a dozen runner-up finishes under his belt, Imperial Red Bird has only run once, carving out the pace in a $25,000 maiden claimer at Sam Houston before weakening late to finish second by 1 1/2 lengths.

This effort produced a respectable 71 Brisnet Speed rating, and it came against open company. Friday’s race is restricted to Texas-breds, so the jump into maiden special weight company won’t necessarily be as difficult as it seems. Imperial Red Bird has upside for improvement in his second start, we’ll view the gray gelding as a logical single under hot jockey Stewart Elliot.

Race 7: $75,000 Allowance Optional Claiming (six furlongs): #4 Empire of Gold (3-1)

Morning line favorite #3 Flash of Mischief (2-1) is a stakes-winning sprinter, but his best efforts have come running one mile or farther, and he hasn’t run since Dec. 11. Cutting back in distance off a layoff may leave Flash of Mischief vulnerable to an upset.

Instead, we’ll side with #4 Empire of Gold (3-1) as a somewhat creative single. The fourth-place finish from the 2020 Breeders’ Cup Sprint (G1) kicked off 2020 with a fifth-place finish behind champion sprinter Jackie’s Warrior in the Count Fleet Sprint H. (G3) at Oaklawn Park—not a bad effort by any means, considering he hooked up with Jackie’s Warrior through a fast early pace.

Two starts back, Empire of Gold survived intense pace fractions to win a six-furlong allowance at Remington Park, so dropping back down to the allowance ranks at Lone Star should make Empire of Gold formidable at a nice price.

Good luck!