Keeler Johnson's picks and plays Nov. 9

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November 9th, 2022

Handicapper J. Keeler Johnson shares picks and plays for Wednesday, Nov. 9 at Churchill Downs and Horseshoe Indianapolis, along with tickets for Churchill’s $10,533 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.

Picks and Plays

Churchill Downs: Race 1: $15,000 Maiden Claiming (seven furlongs, 1:00 p.m. ET)

#8 Awesome Charge (2-1) ran strongly in a $20,000 maiden claimer sprinting 6 1/2 furlongs at Keeneland last month. Making his first start since being claimed by hot trainer Chris Hartman (a 23% winner this year), Awesome Charge tracked the pace before staying on to finish second in a large field.

This effort produced a sharp 79 Brisnet Speed rating, putting Awesome Charge right in the hunt while dropping to the $15,000 maiden claiming level. Throw in the fact Hartman wins at a 35% rate with horses running for the second time following a claim, and Awesome Charge is worth betting to win and keying over #6 Private Connie (15-1) and #7 Kenric (5-1) in the exacta.

  • $16 to win on #8 Awesome Charge
  • $7 Exacta: 8 with 6,7 ($14)
    Total: $30

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

Two-time Eclipse Award-winning trainer Brad Cox has compiled a sharp 3-for-10 (30%) record debuting horses over one mile or farther on dirt at Horseshoe Indianapolis this year. This stat points toward Cox’s unraced #2 Silver Sovereign (3-1) as a win contender in this one-mile maiden heat.

A son of three-time leading sire and stamina influence Tapit, Silver Sovereign has put together a lengthy work tab at Horseshoe Indianapolis, capped off by half a mile in :48 3/5. He should be fit to race one mile under leading local jockey Marcelino Pedroza, so we’ll bet Silver Sovereign over #3 Accidental Hero (9-5) and #7 Eldest Son (7-2) in the exacta and trifecta.

  • $10 Exacta: 2 with 3,7 ($20)
  • $5 Trifecta: 2 with 3,7 with 3,7 ($10)
    Total: $30

Churchill Downs: Race 7: Maiden Special Weight (seven furlongs, 4:01 p.m. ET)

The par winning Brisnet Speed rating for a race like this is 91, a plateau none of the experienced entrants have reached. In general, this field doesn’t appear overly tough on paper, so we’ll see if the first-time starter #5 Top Secret (15-1) can spring a surprise.

A son of juvenile champion Uncle Mo (who sires a solid 14% winners from first-time starters), Top Secret is trained by Wayne Mackey, a 27% winner with first-time starters and a 29% winner with horses debuting in maiden special weights. Top Secret has put together an encouraging work tab highlighted by a couple of bullet workouts at The Thoroughbred Center, and hot jockey Florent Geroux (a 21% winner at Churchill this meet) is named to ride.

We’ll bet Top Secret to win and play him over #3 Hitting Bombs (4-1) and #7 War Room (7-2) in the exacta.

  • $20 to win on #5 Top Secret
  • $5 Exacta: 5 with 3,7 ($10)
    Total: $30

Carryover Watch

Churchill Downs, Race 9: $10,533 Super High 5 carryover (5:05 p.m. ET)

The racing week at Churchill Downs kicks off on Wednesday with a $10,533 carryover up for grabs in the $1 Super High 5. No one has managed to hit the wager during the last two racing days, but perhaps we can come up with Wednesday’s winning combination.

It won’t be easy since the carryover is on the table in Race 9, a $50,000 maiden claimer for fillies and mares sprinting six furlongs on dirt.  There are 11 entries, which equates to 55,440 possible outcomes.

We’ll try to simplify the process by keying #4 Puglia (7-2) on top of our tickets. The daughter of Upstart has only run twice, finishing fifth in her debut sprinting seven furlongs over the Belmont Park turf course before running fourth in a seven-furlong maiden special weight on dirt at Aqueduct.

The latter effort was encouraging on several fronts. Not only did Puglia earn a respectable 78 Brisnet Speed rating, she did so while facing a deep field. The winner was Kathleen O., who came back to post consecutive victories in the Cash Run S., Davona Dale (G2), and Gulfstream Park Oaks (G2). Furthermore, both the runner-up and the third-place finisher returned to win their next starts and compete in graded stakes.

On the downside, Puglia hasn’t run in nearly a year, so the long break is a question mark. But trainer Brendan Walsh wins at a solid 19% rate with horses returning from layoffs of 90 days or more, and Puglia will add Lasix on Wednesday. For good measure, she’ll be ridden by Tyler Gaffalione, the leading jockey at every Churchill Downs meet since 2020.

As for which horses to use underneath Puglia… that’s a tough question. You can make a case for almost anyone. #5 Cami Cat (4-1) is a logical choice after finishing second over this track, distance, and class level on Sept. 16, after which she returned to run third in a maiden special weight at Horseshoe Indianapolis. #1 Please Be Kind (3-1) is another logical threat; she has cracked the trifecta in three of her last four starts at Churchill Downs, including a couple of maiden special weights.

One longshot worth trying is #11 Penitent’s Rose (10-1). The three-year-old filly ran third in her debut for a $75,000 maiden claiming tag sprinting six furlongs at Keeneland last month and may produce a strong showing while dropping down to the $50,000 level.

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

  • $1 Super High 5: 4 with 1,5,11 with 1,5,11 with 1,5,11 with 3,7,10 ($18)
  • $1 Super High 5: 4 with 1,5,11 with 1,5,11 with 3,7,10 with 1,5,11 ($18)
    Total: $36

Good luck!