Keeler Johnson's picks and plays of the day for April 10

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April 10th, 2021

Handicapper J. Keeler Johnson shares his picks and plays for Saturday, April 10 at Keeneland and Oaklawn Park.

Tickets for a trio of stakes races are first on the agenda, followed by thoughts on the $12,888 Super High 5 carryover at Keeneland.

Picks and Plays

Keeneland Race 8: Giant’s Causeway S. (5 1/2 furlongs on turf, 4:57 p.m. ET)

#3 Elle Z (7-2) has been on fire, winning three of her last four starts sprinting 5 1/2 furlongs on both dirt and turf. A front-running daughter of City Zip, Elle Z enters the Giant’s Causeway off an easy four-length win in the Mardi Gras S. on dirt, but she’s equally effective on grass. In fact, she wired an allowance race over the Keeneland turf course last fall to kick off her current hot streak.

#1 Into Mystic (2-1) is the morning-line choice, but Elle Z has defeated the favorite in two of their three meetings. In fact, Elle Z and Into Mystic have run 1-2 in three consecutive races, and it will come as no surprise if they achieve the same feat on Saturday.

Of the pair, I prefer the more tactical Elle Z, since Into Mystic could be destined for a tricky trip from her inside draw. The 7-2 odds on Elle Z are also appealing, so let’s bet her to win and play her over Into Mystic in the trifecta.

$18 to win on #3 Elle Z
$2 Trifecta: 3 with 1 with 2,7,8 ($6)
$2 Trifecta: 3 with 2,7,8 with 1 ($6)
Total: $30

Keeneland Race 9: Lexington S. (G3, 1 1/16-miles, 5:30 p.m. ET)

#7 Proxy (6-5) has already hit the board in a trio of Road to the Kentucky Derby prep races and brings competitive Brisnet Speed ratings to the fold. But the Godolphin homebred arguably took a step backward when finishing fourth in the Louisiana Derby (G2) last month, and 6-5 seems like a short price to accept on a horse prone to racing greenly.

An exciting alternative to the favorite is #1 Noble Reflection (15-1). Third in his debut at Del Mar last summer behind eventual Del Mar Futurity (G1) winner Dr. Schivel and Los Alamitos Futurity (G2) hero Spielberg, Noble Reflection recently returned from a long layoff to crush a six-furlong maiden sprint at Oaklawn Park. The son of Liam’s Map carved out fast fractions, then pulled clear under a hand ride to beat next-out winner Gaslight by 4 1/2 lengths.

Noble Reflection is taking a big step up in class and distance, but he looks competitive from a Brisnet Speed rating standpoint, and his 15-1 morning line odds are enticing. We’ll bet him to win, then key him over Proxy in the exacta.

$15 to win on #1 Noble Reflection
$5 Exacta: 1 with 7
Total: $20

Oaklawn Park Race 6: Carousel S. (six furlongs, 3:55 p.m. ET)

#5 Edgeway (9-5) showed promise against stakes competition last year, but the daughter of Competitive Edge ran a better race than ever when returning from a long layoff on Feb. 7 at Santa Anita. Favored at 1-2 in a six-furlong allowance dash, Edgeway tracked a quick pace before pulling away under a hand ride to win by three lengths.

This effort produced a career-best 100 Brisnet Speed rating, stamping Edgeway as an up-and-coming alternative to five-time stakes winner #4 Frank’s Rockette (7-5). The latter is more accomplished, and boasts similar Brisnet Speed ratings, but she’s also been assigned top weight of 124 pounds—conceding five pounds to Edgeway. In a close race, this subtle but significant disadvantage can tip the scales in Edgeway’s favor.

#6 Casual (4-1) can complete a cold trifecta.

$20 Exacta: 5 with 4
$5 Trifecta: 5 with 4 with 6
Total: $25

Carryover Watch

Keeneland: $12,888 Super High 5 Jackpot

After climbing as high as $81,050, Keeneland’s Super High 5 jackpot was finally hit on Friday. One lucky bettor assembled a winning ticket in Race 5, a competitive turf allowance race in which 1-2 favorite Editor At Large finished sixth behind horses starting at 18-1, 21-1, 9-1, 26-1, 13-1. This improbable combination of longshots triggered a massive payoff of $100,341.85—pretty good for a bet that could have cost as little as 50 cents, right?

Since Keeneland’s Super High 5 is available for betting in all races featuring seven or more betting interests, the jackpot was able to rebuild to $12,888 by the conclusion of racing on Friday, setting the stage for even greater growth on Saturday’s stakes-packed card. Indeed, the wager will be offered in eight of the 11 races, excluding only Races 1, 7, and 10.

If your main interest is cashing winning tickets, regardless of whether they’re unique, you’ll have several opportunities to bet seemingly straightforward races. The Giant’s Causeway S. mentioned above is an example; if you’re willing to single Elle Z on top, and key Into Mystic for second and third place, you can put together a pair of solid tickets on a reasonable budget:

Race 8, 50-cent Super High 5: 3 with 1 with 2,7,8 with 2,6,7,8,10 with 2,6,7,8,10 ($18)
Race 8, 50-cent Super High 5: 3 with 2,7,8 with 1 with 2,6,7,8,10 with 2,6,7,8,10 ($18)

But if your goal is to construct a lone winning ticket and sweep the whole jackpot, then we recommend turning your attention toward Race 5, a $20,000 maiden claiming race taking place over 1 1/8 miles on the main track.

The simple fact the race has drawn an overflow field of 13 suggests it will be difficult to handicap. Throw in the fact the favorites appear vulnerable, and it could be a beast to decipher.

#1 Bold Victory (7-5) is the clear favorite on the morning line while dropping down from maiden special weight to maiden claiming company. But the son of Flatter is 0-for-7 lifetime, hasn’t cracked the trifecta in his last four starts, hasn’t raced since October, and is switching surfaces and barns for his first start as a gelding. That’s a lot of variables to consider!

Co-second choice #3 Rogue Element (9-2) also has a lot of questions to answer. Like Bold Victory, Rogue Element will be a popular play while dropping from maiden special weight company into the maiden claiming ranks. But on the other hand, he’s 0-for-8 lifetime, hasn’t run since August, and is dropping blinkers and switching barns for his seasonal debut, introducing several elements of vulnerability to the mix.

If you want to oppose Bold Victory and Rogue Element, #8 Count Your Pennies (15-1) is worth considering. He’s not as fast on paper as the favorites and has been competing against $15,000 maiden claiming company, but he’s consistent (hitting the board in his last nine starts) and boasts a pedigree geared toward success in the mud.

With rain in the forecast for Saturday, Count Your Pennies is one runner who figures to enjoy the wet going—he’s already run well twice over sloppy tracks. Throw in the fact trainer Troy Newton wins at a solid 23% rate with horses stepping up one class level, and Count Your Pennies looks like an appealing play.

Good luck!