Keeler Johnson's picks and plays of the day for Nov. 19

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November 19th, 2021

Handicapper J. Keeler Johnson shares picks and plays for Friday, Nov. 19 at Churchill Downs, Delta Downs, and Remington Park, along with insights on non-jackpot carryovers at Aqueduct and Churchill.

Today’s special offers from TwinSpires include:

  • Exacta Insurance: Receive refunds on exacta bets (up to $10) if your two selected horses finish in the first three home (but not in the winning order) at Remington Park. Offer applies to straight exacta bets only.
  • Rest of the World Bet Back: Receive refunds on win bets (up to $10) if your horse finishes second in any race at Kembla Grange (Australia).

Picks and Plays

Churchill Downs: Race 9: Maiden Special Weight (1 1/16 miles, 5:06 p.m. ET)

#9 I’m a War Lord (10-1) has shown plenty of promise in his first two starts. After gaining ground belatedly to finish fifth in his sprint debut (a race won by next-out Street Sense S. winner Howling Time), I’m a War Lord stretched out over 1 1/16 miles at Keeneland, where he finished second with a competitive 80 Brisnet Speed rating.

I’m a War Lord is bred top and bottom to thrive running long and improve with maturity; both his sire (Gun Runner) and dam sire (Mineshaft) won Horse of the Year titles, while I’m a War Lord’s half-siblings Lookin for Eight and Miss Mo Mentum were both late-maturing, graded stakes-winning route runners. I’m a War Lord is already fast enough to vie for victory against Friday’s field, so his 10-1 morning line odds are highly enticing.

A hefty win bet will be our primary play, followed by an exacta using #1 Bon Bueno (9-2) and #6 Verbier (6-1) for second place.

$20 to win on #9 I’m a War Lord
$5 Exacta: 9 with 1,6 ($10)
Total: $30

Delta Downs: Race 9: My Trusty Cat S. (one mile, 5:09 p.m. ET)

#5 Sea Level (5-2) is unbeaten and unchallenged in two starts for high-percentage trainer Brad Cox. After employing pace-pressing tactics to smash her debut at Indiana Grand by seven lengths, the two-year-old daughter of Exaggerator rallied from midpack to dominate Remington Park’s E. L. Gaylord Memorial S. by 3 3/4 lengths.

Sea Level has trained forwardly for the My Trusty Cat and has the pedigree to stretch out over one mile. Cox wins at a 28% rate with horses running long for the first time, and Exaggerator won the Delta Downs Jackpot S. (G3) over this bullring oval as a juvenile, so all signs suggest Sea Level can keep her unbeaten record intact under hot jockey Timothy Thornton.

Longshot #1 Tapsion (15-1) can complete the exacta.

$25 to win on #5 Sea Level
$5 Exacta: 5 with 1
Total: $30

Remington Park: Race 8: Jeffrey A. Hawk Memorial S. (one mile and 70 yards, 11:23 p.m. ET)

#5 Absaroka (5-1) has been facing easier competition than he’ll encounter on Friday, but the son of Flat Out enters in red-hot form and can’t be dismissed as a live longshot.

Indeed, Absaroka is 3-for-3 since transitioning to the care of hot trainer C. R. Trout, with all of those victories coming at Remington Park. He was especially impressive in the Oklahoma Classics Cup racing 1 1/16 miles last month, leading all the way to score by 4 1/4 lengths with a career-best 99 Brisnet Speed rating.

If Absaroka brings his A-game on Friday, he can upset logical favorite #1 Trident Hit (2-1) at a fair price. We’ll bet Absaroka to win, then capitalize on the Exacta Insurance promotion and place a $10 exacta keying Absaroka over Trident Hit.

$20 to win on #5 Absaroka
$10 Exacta: 5 with 1
Total: $30

Carryover Watch

Aqueduct, Race 5: $29,994 Pick 6 carryover (1:45 p.m. ET)

Skill isn’t the only thing you’ll need to win a share of Aqueduct’s $29,994 Pick 6 carryover. You’ll also need some luck, because the monstrous sequence for the $1 wager contains 80 horses (averaging 13.3 per race) before scratches. Even if you combine coupled entries and eliminate also-eligible and main-track only entrants, the sequence features 68 entries (11.3 per race) and 2,052,864 possible outcomes. Wow!

Finding a reliable single might be impossible, but if you want to give it a try, we recommend #9 Skims (4-1) in Race 7, a maiden special weight for juvenile fillies racing 1 1/16 miles on turf. The daughter of European superstar Frankel rallied wide to finish fifth in her debut sprinting six furlongs over the Belmont turf and is eligible to improve while stretching out in distance. Half-brother War Decree won a Group 3 stakes racing 1 5/16 miles, and trainer Shug McGaughey strikes at a 23% rate with horses running long for the first time.

Victory isn’t guaranteed for Skims, but if she improves like the data suggests she will, a highly competitive performance should be in the offing.

Churchill Downs, Race 9: $3,444 Super High 5 carryover (5:06 p.m. ET)

If you want to push our previously outlined Churchill Downs Race 9 plays to another level, why not consider keying #3 I’m a War Lord (10-1) on top in the Super High 5? The $1 wager boasts a carryover of $3,444, and if we can assemble a winning ticket with I’m a War Lord on top, it’s not unrealistic to think we might cash a five-figure payoff.

We’ve already mentioned #1 Bon Bueno (9-2) and #6 Verbier (6-1) as the runners we’ll emphasize underneath, and for obvious reasons. Bon Bueno ran second in a 1 1/16-mile maiden special weight at Keeneland on Oct. 16, while Verbier finished fifth in the same race and is eligible to take a big step forward in his second start for trainer Brad Cox, who strikes at a lofty 37% rate with horses running long for the second time.

#4 Heston (8-1) has finished third in his first two starts, including the Oct. 16 maiden heat at Keeneland, and is another to strongly support. Toss in #2 Mahoney Road (4-1), #3 Chileno (7-2), #5 Scattershack (15-1), and #7 Gilded Age (8-1) for lower slots, and we might just have the Super High 5 surrounded.

$1 Super High 5: 3 with 1,6 with 1,6 with 2,3,4,5,7 with 2,3,4,5,7 ($40)
$1 Super High 5: 3 with 1,6 with 4 with 1,6 with 2,3,5,7 ($8)
Total: $48

Good luck!