Keeler Johnson's picks and plays Nov. 17

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November 17th, 2022

Handicapper J. Keeler Johnson shares picks and plays for Thursday, Nov. 17 at Churchill Downs and Horseshoe Indianapolis, including a cold double wager.

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.

Picks and Plays

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

The experienced entrants in this maiden special weight for Indiana-bred juveniles haven’t been running very fast; the par winning Brisnet Speed rating for Thursday’s conditions is 66, but none of the runners have posted a rating higher than 58.

It appears the door is open for victory by a first-time starter, so we’ll take a shot with #6 Secret’s Image (10-1). Trainer Andrew Brown has compiled a solid 2-for-7 (29%) record with first-time starters since 2018, and Secret’s Image showed potential when breezing a fast half-mile from the Horseshoe Indianapolis starting gate in :47 1/5.

A win bet on Secret’s Image will be our primary play, followed by an exacta using #8 Backyard Justice (3-1) for second place.

  • $20 to win on #6 Secret’s Image
  • $10 Exacta: 6 with 8
    Total: $30

Churchill Downs: Race 8: $125,000 Allowance Optional Claiming (1 1/16 miles, 4:33 p.m. ET)

#6 Warrior Johny (7-5) couldn’t quite handle jumping up into stakes company for the Bourbon Trail S. at Churchill Downs, finishing sixth. But the three-year-old gelding had previously dominated a 1 1/8-mile allowance at Saratoga by 8 1/2 lengths, earning a flashy 102 Brisnet Speed rating.

Warrior Johny has actually posted Brisnet Speed ratings of 91 or higher in his last five starts, including when breaking his maiden at Churchill Downs by 12 3/4 lengths. He’s consistently the fastest horse entered in Thursday’s field, so dropping down in class figures to produce a victory.

We’ll single Warrior Johny to start a double wager, then use #2 Major General (5-1) and #4 Droppin G’s (5-1) for second place in an exacta.

  • $25 Double: 6 with 5
  • $5 Exacta: 6 with 2,4 ($10)
    Total: $35

Churchill Downs: Race 9: Allowance (five furlongs, 5:05 p.m. ET)

#5 Skelly (8-5) was tons the best in a six-furlong maiden special weight at Churchill Downs last month, dueling for the early lead before taking over to dominate by six lengths. This effort produced a 96 Brisnet Speed rating, the highest figure belonging to any horse in Thursday’s allowance field.

If Skelly produces a similar performance while cutting back slightly in distance, he can cruise to victory for Hall of Fame trainer Steve Asmussen. We’ll single Skelly to conclude our double wager, then key him over #2 Improbable Journey (6-1) in the exacta.

  • $10 Exacta: 5 with 2

Good luck!