Keeler Johnson's picks and plays of the day for June 11

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June 11th, 2021

Handicapper J. Keeler Johnson shares his picks and plays for Friday, June 11 at Arlington Park and Churchill Downs, along with a 12-1 shot worth singling in Belmont Park’s $260,473 Pick 6 carryover.

Today’s special offers from TwinSpires include:

  • Churchill Downs Bet Back: Receive refunds on win bets (up to $10) if your horse finishes second in select races at Churchill Downs.
  • Rest of the World Bet Back: Receive refunds on win bets (up to $10) if your horse finishes second in any race at Eagle Farm (Australia).

Picks and Plays

Arlington Park: Race 4: Maiden Special Weight (six furlongs, 4:59 p.m. ET)

Trainer Larry Rivelli has been sensationally hot at Arlington this meet, winning at a 42% rate. Rivelli also strikes at a lofty 31% rate with horses debuting in maiden special weights, a stat suggesting #1 Upbeat Melody (5-2) will be tough to beat in his first run under colors.

A son of Upstart, who sires 15% winners from first-time starters, Upbeat Melody has put together a solid work tab in preparation for his debut. He’s turned in 11 timed workouts since the middle of March, including seven over the Polytrack at Arlington. Fitness shouldn’t be an issue for Upbeat Melody, and hot jockey Jareth Loveberry (a 40% winner teaming up with Rivelli) takes the mount. Throw in the fact post 1 wins 29% of six-furlong Polytrack sprints at Arlington, and we have a recipe for victory.

We’ll bet Upbeat Melody to win and play him on top of a trifecta using #3 Nobel (5-1), #5 Rag Tag (9-2), and #8 Old Arbat (7-2) underneath.

$21 to win on #1 Upbeat Melody
$1.50 Trifecta: 1 with 3,5,8 with 3,5,8 ($9)
Total: $30

Churchill Downs: Race 4: Maiden Special Weight (5 1/2 furlongs, 2:13 p.m. ET)

Trainer Dallas Stewart isn’t generally known for winning with first-time starters; his strike rate with such runners stands at just 9%. But Stewart has gone 2-for-2 debuting juveniles at Churchill Downs this spring, and he can bring his record to a perfect 3-for-3 with #3 Curly Tail (9-2) on Friday.

Curly Tail is a beautifully bred son of elite sire Curlin out of the War Front mare Take Charge Tressa. Take Charge Tressa hails from one of the most productive families in racing. Her dam, Charming, has already foaled champion two-year-old filly Take Charge Brandi and multiple Grade 1 winner Omaha Beach. Charming herself is a daughter of three-time Grade 1 winner Take Charge Lady, also the dam of Florida Derby (G1) winner Take Charge Indy, champion three-year-old Will Take Charge, and multiple Grade 2 winner As Time Goes By.

Curly Tail has shown some speed in the mornings, breezing five furlongs in :59 3/5 and a half-mile in :47 2/5. Jockey Jon Court, who partnered with both of Stewart’s debut winners, is named to ride. Best of all, Curly Tail should offer a fair price in the betting.

Capitalizing on the Churchill Downs Bet Back offer, we’ll place a $10 win bet on Curly Tail, then play him in the exacta over fellow first-time starters #2 Royal Connection (6-1) and #10 Suburban Court (10-1).

$10 to win on #3 Curly Tail
$5 Exacta: 3 with 2,10 ($10)
Total: $20

Churchill Downs: Race 8: Allowance (1 1/8 miles, 4:22 p.m. ET)

#3 Harvard (10-1) has shown talent in three runs for trainer Rodolphe Brisset, who has gone 2-for-7 (29%) at Churchill Downs this meet. The son of Pioneerof the Nile finished second in his first two starts sprinting, then took a nice step forward in a one-mile and 70-yard maiden special weight at Indiana Grand, leading all the way to dominate next-out winner W W Crazy by 4 1/2 lengths.

Harvard did escape with an uncontested lead, but he’s also shown versatility in terms of running style and retains the services of jockey Chris Landeros, who has gone 5-for-11 (45%) riding for Brisset over the last two months. Harvard also breezed a bullet five furlongs in :59 3/5 on June 4, indicating he’s still in fine form.

Following along with the Churchill Downs Bet Back offer, we’ll place a $10 win bet and hope to win in excess of $100 if Harvard visits the winner’s circle. Then we’ll play him over #2 Amani’s Eagle (4-1) in a small exacta.

$10 to win on #3 Harvard
$5 Exacta: 3 with 2
Total: $15

Carryover Watch

Belmont Park, Race 4: $260,473 Pick 6 carryover (2:31 p.m. ET)

Bettors should have known they were in for an unpredictable afternoon of racing at Belmont Park when Liam’s Fire dominated the Thursday opener by six lengths at odds of 30-1.

Approximately four hours later, the dust had settled on a card filled with longshots and upsets. For the second straight day, no one managed to assemble a winning Pick 6 ticket, leaving a massive carryover of $260,473 for Friday’s iteration of the non-jackpot, $1 wager.

Finding a single (or two) would go a long way toward playing the double-carryover sequence on a reasonable budget, but such runners are hard to come by. Friday’s Pick 6 is packed with large, competitive fields, and it’s hard to narrow down the contenders. Race 7, a 6 1/2-furlong allowance for fillies and mares, has attracted the smallest field with just seven entries. But good luck finding the winner—you can make a logical case for at least four or five horses.

Truthfully, when I review the entries, the horse I’m most interested in singling is #3 Somethingtotellyou (12-1) in Race 8 (4:40 p.m. ET), a 1 1/4-mile turf allowance. It might seem strange to think of singling a double-digit longshot, but Somethingtotellyou’s credentials are actually pretty solid.

For starters, Somethingtotellyou is a speed horse in a race without much pace on paper. Indeed, the stoutly bred son of Honor Code led all the way in a 1 1/8-mile maiden special weight at Belmont Park last month. The race was restricted to New York-breds, but Somethingtotellyou was tons the best, sprinting the final three furlongs in a solid :35.61 over a good course to score by 3 3/4 lengths.

As a son of Honor Code out of the Empire Maker mare Dean Henry (a stakes winner over 1 1/8 miles), Somethingtotellyou has the pedigree to thrive racing 1 1/4 miles. Hot trainer Christophe Clement has enlisted similarly successful jockey Joel Rosario to ride, so the stage is set for Somethingtotellyou to work out a perfect trip on the front end.  I’m inclined to think the bay gelding will forget to stop, triggering a double-digit upset.

If you’re not comfortable singling a 12-1 shot, #6 Compliant (3-1) and #7 Shamrocket (8-5) are logical favorites to include as backup. But neither appears unstoppable on paper, and if Somethingtotellyou steals the show as our single, we’ll be well on our way to cashing a sizable share of the $260,473 Pick 6 prize.

Good luck!