Keeler Johnson's picks and plays Nov. 25

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November 25th, 2022

Handicapper J. Keeler Johnson shares picks and plays for Friday, Nov. 25 at Churchill Downs, Del Mar, and Golden Gate Fields, along with live longshots to play in the $2,850 Pick 6 carryover at Fair Grounds.

Today’s special offers from TwinSpires include:

  • Rest of the World Bet Back: Receive refunds on win bets (up to $10) if your horse finishes second in eligible races at Rosehill (Australia).
  • 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.
  • Fair Grounds $1,000 Late Pick 5 Hit It & Split It: Hit the Late Pick 5 at Fair Grounds to split a $1,000 daily jackpot.

Picks and Plays

Churchill Downs: Race 11: Clark (G1, 1 1/8 miles, 5:56 p.m. ET)

In a race without a ton of speed on paper, #7 West Will Power (5-2) figures to hold a tactical advantage. The improving Brad Cox trainee enters off back-to-back victories racing 1 1/8 miles, unleashing a fast finish to nab a Churchill Downs allowance before wiring Keeneland’s Fayette (G2) by 6 3/4 lengths.

In the Fayette, West Will Power trounced a quartet of graded stakes winners while earning a powerful 111 Brisnet Late Pace rating. If he’s able to set or press a slow pace in the Clark, West Will Power can outkick Kentucky Derby (G1) winner #4 Rich Strike (2-1) down the homestretch.

Del Mar: Race 8: Maiden Special Weight (one mile, 7:00 p.m. ET)

#8 Eastbound (3-1) showed some promise in his debut sprinting 5 1/2 furlongs at Del Mar, rallying after a slow start to finish third. The runner-up, Hejazi, later placed third in the American Pharoah (G1).

Eastbound improved when stretching out in distance for a one-mile maiden special weight over the Santa Anita grass course, once again rallying after a slow start to finish second by two lengths. From a pedigree perspective, running long on dirt figures to be Eastbound’s strong suit, so the conditions of Friday’s maiden special weight should help this John Shirreffs trainee produced a winning effort.

#1 Reincarnate (9-5) and #7 Mr Fisk (10-1) are logical choices to battle for exacta honors.

  • $20 to win on #8 Eastbound
  • $5 Exacta: 8 with 1,7 ($10)
    Total: $30

Golden Gate Fields: Race 8: Golden Gate Debutante S. (six furlongs on Tapeta, 7:15 p.m. ET)

After finishing fifth, seventh, and fifth in her first three starts on the Southern California circuit, #2 Always At Ease (5-2) shipped to Golden Gate Fields and rallied boldly to win a six-furlong maiden special weight. Her respectable final time of 1:10.59 produced an encouraging 78 Brisnet Speed rating.

#8 Imaginary (7-2) ran similarly well in a 5 1/2-furlong maiden special weight at Golden Gate last month, leading all the way to beat a next-out winner by one length. Imaginary earned a 76 Brisnet Speed rating and has the speed to challenge from the outset for hot trainer Jonathan Wong.

Let’s box Always At Ease and Imaginary in a small exacta.

  • $5 Exacta box: 2,8 ($10)

Carryover Watch

Fair Grounds, Race 3: $2,850 Pick 6 carryover (5:45 p.m. ET)

The day after Thanksgiving brings a $2,850 carryover in the Fair Grounds Pick 6, a non-jackpot wager featuring a $1 minimum bet amount.

The sequence doesn’t look unmanageable on paper. The six races contain a total of 50 horses (averaging 8.3 per race) before scratches. All told, there are 306,180 possible outcomes, a far cry from the million-plus outcomes often found in Pick 6 sequences.

The Pick 6 gets underway in Race 3, a maiden special weight for Louisiana-bred juveniles sprinting six furlongs on dirt. The experienced runners don’t appear overly fast on paper, so we recommend using #3 Up N Gone (6-1) as a live longshot. The dark bay or brown colt is a son of Star Guitar, a Louisiana-bred sensation who sires 14% winners from first-time starters.

Up N Gone is trained by Jose Camejo, who wins at a solid 18% rate with horses debuting in maiden special weights. Jockey Jose Rodriguez has gone 3-for-9 (33%) teaming up with Camejo over the last two months, so Up N Gone has the credentials to outrun his 6-1 morning line odds.

Another enticing mid-range longshot can be found in Race 6, a maiden special weight for three-year-olds and older horses sprinting 5 1/2 furlongs on dirt. #3 Supremely (3-1) is the fastest entrant on paper after finishing third by less than one length in a $75,000 maiden claimer at Keeneland last month, earning an 86 Brisnet Speed rating that tops Friday’s field. But #2 Charlemagne (9-2)—the slowest horse in terms of Brisnet Speed ratings—might be poised for an upset.

Charlemagne showed little when finishing last in his debut at Fair Grounds 11 months ago, earning a 43 Brisnet Speed rating. But the son of Breeders’ Cup Classic (G1) winner Arrogate went to the sidelines immediately thereafter, suggesting something went awry during his debut performance.

Charlemagne has been training steadily since the end of September and is eligible to run much better in his second try for trainer Michael Stidham, who wins at a 20% rate with horses returning from layoffs of 90 days or more. As the fifth choice in a six-horse field, Charlemagne may offer better value in the Pick 6 than his 9-2 morning line odds imply.

Good luck!