Keeler Johnson's picks and plays of the day for July 5
Handicapper J. Keeler Johnson shares $100 worth of picks and plays for Monday, July 5 at Belmont Park and Los Alamitos, along with a $36 ticket for the mandatory-payout $415,393 Pick 5 carryover at Prairie Meadows.
Picks and Plays
Belmont Park: Race 6: Grand Couturier S. (1 1/2 miles on turf, 3:34 p.m. ET)
#9 Shamrocket (12-1) has been making steady progress this season for Hall of Fame trainer Todd Pletcher. The four-year-old son of Tonalist was beaten just 1 1/2 lengths when finishing fourth in the Man o’ War S. (G1) at Belmont, then came back to rally and win a 1 1/4-mile allowance over the same course.
Considering Man o’ War runner-up #6 Gufo (8-5) and third-place runner #5 Moon Over Miami (7-2) are the morning line favorites in the Grand Couturier, I see appeal in playing Shamrocket on top at a much better price. Shamrocket will be ridden on Monday by three-time champion jockey Irad Ortiz, Belmont’s leading rider this spring with a 24% win rate, and the right trip can help Shamrocket turn the tables and spring a surprise.
$20 to win on #9 Shamrocket
$7 Exacta: 9 with 6
$3 Exacta: 9 with 7
Belmont Park: Race 8: Dwyer S. (G3, one mile, 4:40 p.m. ET)
Sold for $1.5 million as a yearling, #2 First Captain (1-2) is bred to be a star. The son of Curlin was produced by the graded stakes-winning A.P. Indy mare America, and First Captain has lived up to this lofty lineage by winning his first two starts in determined fashion.
First Captain was eye-catching in his debut dashing seven furlongs at Belmont, rallying strongly down the homestretch to beat next-out winner Mahaamel with a 104 Brisnet Late Pace rating. He threw down another triple-digit Late Pace rating when beating older rivals in a one-mile allowance at Belmont.
Conditioned by Hall of Fame trainer Shug McGaughey, First Captain owns the two highest Brisnet Speed ratings in the Dwyer field and should be difficult (or impossible?) to defeat at a short price. We’ll play him on top of a trifecta using Penn Mile (G3) winner #1 Gershwin (5-2) and Churchill Downs allowance winner #5 Snow House (4-1) underneath.
$20 Trifecta: 2 with 1,5 with 1,5 ($40)
Los Alamitos: Race 8: Great Lady M S. (G2, 6 1/2 furlongs, 7:28 p.m. ET)
Reigning champion female sprinter #5 Gamine (1-5) boasts a 7-for-8 record and is undefeated in five starts sprinting. At Churchill Downs two months ago, she led all the way to win the Derby City Distaff (G1) over an elite field featuring next-out stakes winners Sconsin, Estilo Talentoso, and Bell’s the One.
Gamine enters the Great Lady M off a series of sharp workouts and figures to romp home at a short price under Hall of Fame jockey John Velazquez. We’ll play her on top of a cold exacta using the up-and-coming Carousel S. winner #4 Edgeway (3-1) for second place.
$30 Exacta: 5 with 4
Prairie Meadows, Race 5: $415,393 Pick 5 mandatory payout
Which is the largest carryover up for grabs on Monday? That would be the $415,393 prize pool available in the 50-cent Pick 5 at Prairie Meadows.
And when we say it’s up for grabs, we mean it. Although the Prairie Meadows Pick 5 is normally a jackpot-style sequence paying out the carryover only if a unique winning ticket is sold, there’s a mandatory payout scheduled for Monday, so all winning bettors will split the six-figure carryover equally.
Let’s take a race-by-race look at the sequence, then assemble a play on a $36 budget:
Race 5: Maiden Special Weight (five furlongs, 6:43 p.m. ET)
#7 Not Accredited (7-5) is a logical favorite after finishing third in a pair of 4 1/2-furlong dashes at this track and class level. The son of Brody’s Cause has tactical speed and will be tough to catch for hot trainer Jon Arnett, though the first-time starter #2 Escrow Style (9-2) also offers some appeal.
Race 6: $5,000 Claiming (5 1/2 furlongs, 7:09 p.m. ET)
#6 Macho Madness (2-1) and #8 East Moon Lake (4-1) own the best recent Brisnet Speed ratings in the field. Throw in the speedy #3 Winning Moment (9-2), and we should have the race covered.
Race 7: $10,000 Claiming (5 1/2 furlongs, 7:35 p.m. ET)
#8 El Supremo (5-1) finished third against $20,000 company at Prairie Meadows last month and figures to be dangerous on the drop in class. But the speedy #5 Jazzy Justin (7-2) dominated a $7,500 claimer over this track and distance last month and may enjoy a tactical advantage over his stretch-running rival.
Race 8: $12,500 Allowance Optional Claiming (six furlongs, 8:01 p.m. ET)
Speed is an asset sprinting six furlongs at Prairie Meadows, with pacesetters winning 42% of such events. Thus, we’ll oppose the typically stretch-running favorite #6 Itsallaboutyou (3-1) and favor speedsters #4 Ship Boss (4-1) and #9 Justa Streak (10-1) instead.
Race 9: $3,500 Claiming (5 1/2 furlongs, 8:27 p.m. ET)
#8 Kiss My Grits (4-1) has been facing tougher $10,000 company and figures to appreciate the drop in class, considering trainer Federico Villafranco wins at a 29% rate with horses descending two or more levels down the class ladder. She can battle with proven $3,500 performer #9 Despina (5-1) and Horsemen’s Park shipper #4 Happy Issue (9-2) to reach the winner’s circle.
50-cent Pick 5: 2,7 with 3,6,8 with 5,8 with 4,9 with 4,8,9 ($36)