Keeler Johnson's picks and plays of the day for May 31
Handicapper J. Keeler Johnson shares his picks and plays for Monday, May 31 at Canterbury Park, Churchill Downs, and Gulfstream Park, along with a ticket for the mandatory-payout $229,446 Pick 6 carryover at Lone Star Park.
Today’s special offers from TwinSpires include:
- Churchill Downs Bet Back: Receive refunds on win bets (up to $10) if your horse finishes second or third in select races at Churchill Downs.
- All-Stakes Jackpot at Lone Star Park: Make winning $20 win bets in Races 7-11 at Lone Star Park to win a share of a $5,000 jackpot.
Picks and Plays
Canterbury Park: Race 3: Maiden Claiming (5 1/2 furlongs, 7:15 p.m. ET)
#7 Peak of Chic (9-5) could only finish ninth in her debut at Oaklawn Park last month, but this distant defeat came against maiden special weight company. Now the daughter of Competitive Edge is shipping to Canterbury and dropping down into a $16,000 maiden claiming race, two factors indicating she’ll be tough to beat.
Keep in mind, Peak of Chic is conditioned by Mac Robertson, the all-time leading trainer at Canterbury. Robertson wins at a 29% rate with second-time starters and a 37% rate with horses transitioning from maiden special weight to maiden claiming races, so we can expect Peak of Chic to produce a much-improved effort on Monday.
$5 Exacta: 7 with 3,4,6 ($15)
$2.50 Trifecta: 7 with 3,4,6 with 3,4,6 ($15)
Churchill Downs: Race 7: Allowance Optional Claiming (1 1/16 miles on turf, 3:50 p.m. ET)
There’s virtually no speed entered in this two-turn turf test, so predicting which horse will wind up setting the pace—and benefiting from a significant tactical advantage—is difficult.
That’s why we’re going to take a shot with longshot #4 Mutakatif (10-1). The delicate six-year-old has only run four times since 2017, but he’s displayed promising form along the way. When last seen in a February 2020 turf allowance race at Gulfstream Park, Mutakatif rallied with determination to win by a head.
There’s no telling how Mutakatif will fare off the long layoff, but he does have some tactical speed and figures to secure a favorable forward position. At 10-1, he’s worth betting to win (taking advantage of the Churchill Downs Bet Back offer) and playing in the exacta with #2 Street Ready (6-1), who looks like the other potential pace player while adding blinkers.
$10 to win on #4 Mutakatif
$5 Exacta: 4 with 2
Gulfstream Park: Race 6: $12,500 Claiming (one mile, 3:24 p.m. ET)
#4 Malibu Max (7-5) is a logical choice after returning from a long layoff to win a $16,000 conditioned claiming race at Gulfstream. After tracking the pace from third place, Malibu Max took command and drew off to win by 2 1/2 lengths.
Dropping down to an open $12,500 claiming race should suit Malibu Max just fine. Trainer Saffie Joseph strikes at a 50% rate with horses descending the class ladder off a victory, and jockey Edgard Zayas has gone 11-5-3-0 teaming up with Joseph over the last two weeks.
But don’t sleep on the chances of #5 Nacho Papa (4-1), recent winner of an $8,000 claiming race at Gulfstream. The son of Brethren has tactical speed and is set to make his first start for trainer Carlos David, who wins at a 36% rate with new claiming acquisitions.
Let’s box Malibu Max and Nacho Papa in the exacta, favoring the lower-paying combination with Malibu Max on top.
$20 Exacta: 4 with 5
$10 Exacta: 5 with 4
Lone Star Park, Race 6: $229,446 Jackpot 6 Shooter Mandatory Payout (post time 5:48 p.m. ET)
Lone Star Million Day just got even better! Lone Star Park’s 20-cent “Jackpot 6 Shooter” Pick 6 wager has accumulated a carryover of $229,446, which will be dispersed in mandatory fashion among all winning bettors on Memorial Day.
Let’s take a race-by-race look at the sequence, the put together a $45 ticket.
Race 6: $7,500 Maiden Claiming
#8 Win Won Dobbs (5-2) owns the best Brisnet Speed ratings in this $7,500 maiden claimer and enters off placed efforts against $50,000 and $20,000 company on the Texas circuit. Hot trainer Bret Calhoun strikes at a 33% rate with horses dropping down multiple class levels, stamping Win Won Dobbs as a logical single.
Race 7: Memorial Day Sprint S.
Speedy stakes winner #3 Mundaye Call (1-1) recently returned from a six-month layoff to finish fifth in the seven-furlong Madison (G1) at Keeneland, beaten just three lengths after carving out the pace. She can win for fun while dropping down the class ladder for high-percentage trainer Brad Cox.
Race 8: Chamberlain Bridge S.
#7 Chaos Theory (5-2) is 3-for-3 sprinting five furlongs on turf, but this is a competitive field. #3 Archidust (9-5) and #6 Texas Wedge (2-1) also have the credentials to win.
Race 9: Texas Derby
American Pharoah (G1) winner #9 Get Her Number (4-1) and Arkansas Derby (G1) winner #10 Super Stock (5-2) are the class standouts, but the speedy #8 Dreamer’s Disease (12-1) offer longshot appeal in his second start of the season. #5 Warrant (7-2) and #1 Scarred (5-1), second and fourth in the Oaklawn S., can’t be counted out either.
Race 10: Ouija Board Distaff S.
#1 Laura’s Light (1-1), a three-time graded stakes winner on the California circuit, has plenty of tactical speed and looms as an obvious choice in this one-mile turf test. But she isn’t a clear standout in terms of Brisnet Speed ratings, so we’ll spread deep with #2 Summer in Saratoga (9-2), #5 Summering (5-1), #6 Raven’s Cry (8-1) and #7 Tuned (7-2).
Race 11: Steve Sexton Mile (G3)
#1 Silver Prospector (6-1) has kept good company over slightly longer trips and should appreciate cutting back to one mile. We’ll use him alongside #4 Warrior’s Charge (3-1), and #8 C Z Rocket (2-1) to complete our Pick 6 ticket.
$0.20-cent Jackpot Shooter 6: 8 with 3 with 3,6,7 with 1,5,8,9,10 with 1,2,5,6,7 with 1,4,8 ($45)