Keeler Johnson's picks and plays Nov. 16

Profile Picture: J. Keeler Johnson

November 16th, 2022

Handicapper J. Keeler Johnson shares picks and plays for Wednesday, Nov. 16 at Mahoning Valley, Horseshoe Indianapolis, and Churchill Downs, along with tickets for Mountaineer’s $1,068 Super High 5 carryover.

Today’s special offers from TwinSpires include:

  • Churchill Downs $2,000 Late Pick 4 Hit It & Split It: Hit the Late Pick 4 at Churchill Downs to split a $2,000 daily jackpot.
  • Churchill Downs Let 8 Ride: Each Wednesday through Sunday, place win bets at Churchill Downs for a chance to win your share of a $5,000 weekly jackpot.
  • Rest of the World Bet Back: Receive refunds on win bets (up to $10) if your horse finishes second in eligible races at Happy Valley (Hong Kong).

Picks and Plays

Mahoning Valley: Race 5: Maiden Special Weight (six furlongs, 2:37 p.m. ET)

#5 Swing State (5-2) is the morning line favorite after cracking the trifecta four times over this class level, but his 6-0-2-2 lifetime record indicates the two-year-old gelding is often content to settle for minor awards.

We’ll try to beat Swing State with #6 Orfano (8-1), a son of Bodemeister conditioned by high-percentage trainer Megan Fadlovich. Orfano ran third in his debut over this class level at Belterra Park last month, earning a respectable 61 Brisnet Speed rating. The runner-up returned to win his next start against similar competition at Mahoning Valley, defeating Swing State decisively.

If Orfano improves at all in his second start, he can spring an upset victory. We’ll bet Orfano to win and key him over Swing State, #3 Hotrod Bobby (7-2), and #7 Bad Boy Boogie (3-1) in the exacta and trifecta.

  • $16 to win on #6 Orfano
  • $4 Exacta: 6 with 3,5 ($8)
  • $1.50 Trifecta: 6 with 3,5 with 3,5,7 ($6)
    Total: $30

Horseshoe Indianapolis: Race 3: Maiden Special Weight (one mile, 3:12 p.m. ET)

After going 0-for-7 in Arkansas and Kentucky, #3 McMansion (8-5) shipped to Indiana and nearly won his first try at Horseshoe Indianapolis. Tackling a 1 1/16-mile maiden special weight on Oct. 26, McMansion settled a couple of lengths off the early pace, rallied to lead after six furlongs, and fought on down the homestretch to finish second by less than one length.

This effort produced an encouraging 71 Brisnet Speed rating, and McMansion finished 3 1/2 lengths clear of key Wednesday rival #1 Wicked Ecstasy (7-2), so the stage appears set for a winning run. If we bet McMansion over Wicked Ecstasy and first-time starter #5 Perfection Saver (3-1) in the exacta and trifecta, we should be set for solid payoffs.

  • $10 Exacta: 3 with 1,5 ($20)
  • $5 Trifecta: 3 with 1,5 with 1,5 ($10)
    Total: $30

Churchill Downs: Race 8: Maiden Special Weight (six furlongs, 4:33 p.m. ET)

#9 Dazzling Blue (5-2) is training like she’s ready to win this maiden sprint for juvenile fillies. Sold for $500,000 as a yearling, the daughter of three-time leading sire Into Mischief breezed a bullet five furlongs in :59 on Nov. 4 at Churchill Downs, then followed up with a respectable half-mile in :49 4/5.

Jockey Florent Geroux and trainer Brad Cox have teamed up to win at a 23% rate over the last two months, and Into Mischief sires a lofty 16% winners from first-time starters, so all the stats suggest Dazzling Blue will be formidable. We’ll bet her to win and key her over #3 Aunt Mischief (8-1) in a small exacta.

  • $25 to win on #9 Dazzling Blue
  • $5 Exacta: 9 with 3
    Total: $30

Carryover Watch

Mountaineer, Race 8: $1,068 Super High 5 carryover (9:55 p.m. ET)

Eight horses and 6,720 possible outcomes. That’s the challenge handicappers must tackle if they want to win a share of Wednesday’s $1,068 Super High 5 carryover at Mountaineer.

The prize pool is up for grabs in Race 8, the final race of the day. The event in question is a $4,000 claimer for horses aged three and up who have never won three races, and the distance is one mile and 70 yards on dirt.

There are no certainties in horse racing, but it seems reasonably safe to conclude #4 Major Lloyd (2-1) is the most likely winner of Wednesday’s heat. The three-year-old gelding competed with some success on turf between May and September, winning a $12,500 maiden claimer before crossing the wire first in a $12,500 claimer (he was subsequently disqualified and placed seventh).

But Major Lloyd took a big step forward when transitioning to dirt in a $4,000 claimer for non-winners of two races at Mountaineer last month, tracking the early pace before roaring away to win the one-mile and 70-yard event by 16 3/4 lengths. His runaway victory produced a career-best 88 Brisnet Speed rating, the highest figure posted by any horse entered in Wednesday’s race. A repeat performance should land Major Lloyd in the winner’s circle for the second straight race.

Underneath Major Lloyd, we have to respect the chances of #6 Keen On You (7-2). The three-year-old gelding was tons the best in a $4,000 claimer for non-winners of two races sprinting six furlongs at Mountaineer last month, carving out the pace on his way to an 18 1/4-length victory. Both of Keen On You’s victories have come sprinting, but he’s also placed many times running one mile or farther, so stretching out in distance shouldn’t be a major issue.

#3 Cardiac Kid (5-2), beaten a neck racing one mile over this class level at Mountaineer two starts back, brings tactical speed and consistency to the table for hot trainer Eric Reed. A place in the trifecta is surely within reach.

Here’s how we’ll bet the Super High 5:

  • $1 Super High 5: 4 with 6 with 3 with 7,8 with 1,2,5,7,8 ($8)
  • $1 Super High 5: 4 with 3 with 6 with 7,8 with 1,2,5,7,8 ($8)
  • $1 Super High 5: 4 with 6 with 7,8 with 3 with 1,2,5,7,8 ($8)
  • $1 Super High 5: 4 with 1,2,5,7,8 with 6 with 3 with 1,2,5,7,8 ($20)
    Total: $44

Good luck!