Keeler Johnson's picks and plays Sept. 30

Profile Picture: J. Keeler Johnson

September 30th, 2022

Handicapper J. Keeler Johnson shares picks and plays for Friday, Sept. 30 at Delaware Park and Churchill Downs, along with live longshots to play in non-jackpot carryovers at Churchill and Belmont Park.

Today’s special offers from TwinSpires include:

  • Churchill Downs $10 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 eligible races at Royal Randwick (Australia).
  • 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) in select races at Meadowlands. Offer applies to straight exacta bets only.
  • $15,000 Everest Carnival Leaderboard Competition: Place $10+ win bets at a selected Australian track each Friday from Sept. 30 through Oct. 28 to earn points and win your share of prizes worth a total of $15,000.

Picks and Plays

Delaware Park: Race 4: Tax Free Shopping Distaff S. (six furlongs, 2:00 p.m. ET)

#3 Intrepid Daydream (6-5) has won three straight races by daylight margins at Delaware Park. Her 2022 record stands at two victories from two starts, both in six-furlong allowance optional claiming sprints.

Intrepid Daydream owns the fastest Brisnet Speed rating in Friday’s field by a wide margin and is sticking to her preferred track and distance for the Tax Free Shopping Distaff. All three of her victories have come against non-state-restricted company, so tackling a stakes for Delaware-bred or certified fillies and mares should make Intrepid Daydream tough to catch for high-percentage trainer Gary Capuano.

#2 Philadelphia Belle (4-1), #6 Malibu Beauty (3-1), and #1 Juror Number Four (6-1) are the three we’ll add for trifecta purposes.

  • $15 Exacta: 3 with 2
  • $7.50 Trifecta: 3 with 2 with 1,6 ($15)
    Total: $30

Churchill Downs: Race 5: Maiden Special Weight (six furlongs, 2:45 p.m. ET)

#5 Valiant Praise (9-2) showed some promise in her debut over this track and class level, rallying to finish third in a 10-horse field. She subsequently tackled a one-mile maiden special weight over the Kentucky Downs turf course and ran respectably to finish sixth, beaten 5 1/4 lengths in a 12-horse field.

Returning to the configuration of her debut performance should trigger a step forward from Valiant Praise, a Kenny McPeek trainee with the pedigree to handle dirt. We’ll see if she can outkick #2 Black Forest (7-2) and #6 Nomadic Pride (3-1) to the finish line.

  • $20 to win on #5 Valiant Praise
  • $5 Exacta: 5 with 2,6 ($10)
    Total: $30

Delaware Park: Race 6: New Castle S. (six furlongs, 3:00 p.m. ET)

#4 Whereshetoldmetogo (7-5) boasts six wins and two seconds from eight starts at Delaware Park, including an easy 2 3/4-length victory in the six-furlong Alapocas Run S. in July. This seven-year-old veteran routinely throws down 90+ Brisnet Speed ratings and has won a dozen stakes through the years, including the 2021 New Castle.

If Whereshetoldmetogo runs his typical race, he can cruise home on top over #3 Indian Lake (6-1) and #6 Threes Over Deuces (9-5).

  • $22 Exacta: 4 with 6
  • $8 Exacta: 4 with 3
    Total: $30

Carryover Watch

Belmont at the Big A, Race 4: $44,672 Pick 6 carryover (2:31 p.m. ET)

The $1 Pick 6 at Belmont at the Big A has tossed up a hefty $44,672 non-jackpot carryover for Friday’s card, and winning a share won’t be easy. The six-race sequence has attracted 61 entries before scratches, which means there are 725,760 possible outcomes to analyze.

Rather than suggest a single in this competitive Pick 6, we’re going to recommend a live longshot. In Race 7, the John Hettinger S. for fillies and mares racing 1 1/8 miles on turf, #9 Finest Work (8-1) offers appeal for hot trainer George Weaver.

Finest Work has won three of her four starts under Weaver’s care this season, including a 1 1/16-mile grass allowance at Monmouth Park earlier this month. Her lone defeat came in a similar 1 1/16-mile allowance over the Saratoga grass; on that day, Finest Work endured a troubled trip on her way to finishing second by one length against #4 Marvelous Maude (5-2), the morning-line favorite in Friday’s heat. If you like the chances of Marvelous Maude, you have to consider Finest Work as a win threat.

Churchill Downs, Race 9: $3,087 Super High 5 carryover (4:55 p.m. ET)

The final race on Friday at Churchill Downs brings a $3,087 non-jackpot carryover in the $1 Super High 5.

The prize pool is up for grabs in Race 9, a $150,000 maiden claimer for two-year-olds sprinting seven furlongs on dirt. Six of the entrants are first-time starters, and the fact they’re debuting for claiming tags hints they haven’t shown a lot in the mornings yet. The other four entrants are dropping in class after missing the trifecta in maiden special weights.

Since this field doesn’t look overly tough on paper, we recommend playing live longshot #9 Bolt Above (10-1) on top in the Super High 5. Conditioned by Hall of Fame trainer Mark Casse, Bolt Above debuted in a 5 1/2-furlong maiden special weight over the Saratoga turf course and ran evenly to finish sixth.

Bolt Above is a son of Bolt d’Oro (a two-time Grade 1 winner on dirt) out of Class Above, a two-time dirt stakes winner whose best foal to date—Sueno—placed in four graded stakes on the Road to the Kentucky Derby. Bolt Above is bred to thrive while transitioning to dirt, so he’s eligible to step forward in a big way under Churchill’s leading jockey Tyler Gaffalione.

Good luck!