Keeler Johnson’s picks and plays of Nov. 1, 2023

November 1st, 2023

Handicapper J. Keeler Johnson shares picks and plays for Wednesday, Nov. 1 at Churchill Downs, including tickets for the $3,408 Super High 5 carryover.

Today’s special offers from TwinSpires include:

  • Hong Kong Jockey Club 15% Win Bonus: Receive a 15% bonus (up to $25 daily) on winning win bets at Happy Valley (HK) and Sha Tin (HK) every race day in November.
  • Churchill Downs $2,000 Late Pick 5 Hit It & Split It: Hit the Late Pick 5 at Churchill Downs on any racing day from Nov. 1 through Nov. 26 to win your share of a $2,000 daily jackpot.

Picks and Plays

Churchill Downs: Race 2: $20,000 Claiming (7 1/2 furlongs, 1:30 p.m. ET)

There isn’t much pace in this elongated one-turn sprint, so we’ll favor #7 Platinum Ghost (6-1) for an upset. The three-year-old gelding wired a $20,000 maiden claimer sprinting 6 1/2 furlongs at Churchill Downs during the spring, earning a respectable 79 Brisnet Speed rating.

Platinum Ghost also showed speed when dueling for the lead in a $30,000 starter allowance sprinting six furlongs at Horseshoe Indianapolis, even after stumbling badly at the start. With a clean break on Wednesday, Platinum Ghost can get out in front and potentially take this field all the way at a nice price.

We’ll bet Platinum Ghost to win, then key him over fellow pace player #3 Fire Bryan (4-1) in a small exacta.


  • #7 Platinum Ghost (6-1)
  • #3 Fire Bryan (4-1)
  • #5 Rewire (2-1)


  • $20 to win on #7 Platinum Ghost
  • $5 Exacta: 7 with 3
    Total: $25

Churchill Downs: Race 9: Allowance (one mile, 5:05 p.m. ET)

#4 Huntress for Hire (3-1) is the fastest filly in this field from a Brisnet Speed rating standpoint. Whereas none of her rivals have earned a number higher than 89, Huntress for Hire’s last three starts are 94, 90, and 89.

Huntress for Hire was beaten less than one length when rallying to finish third in a six-furlong allowance at Churchill Downs last time out. Two starts back, she carved out a quick pace in a seven-furlong allowance at Saratoga before weakening to finish fourth. Her versatility in terms of running style sets the stage for a favorable trip while stretching out over a one-turn mile, so let’s bet Huntress for Hire to win and single her to start a double wager.


  • #4 Huntress for Hire (3-1)
  • #1 Amber Cascade (4-1)
  • #9 Her Ladyship (15-1)


  • $20 to win on #4 Huntress for Hire
  • $5 Double: 4 with 1
    Total: $25

Churchill Downs: Race 10: $50,000 Maiden Claiming (one mile, 5:35 p.m. ET)

#1 Honest Opinion (2-1) didn’t exactly run out of his skin when debuting in a one-mile maiden special weight at Horseshoe Indianapolis, finishing second by 13 3/4 lengths against stablemate Lightline. But Lightline returned to finish second in a $100,000 allowance optional claimer at Churchill Downs, so Honest Opinion ought to be competitive while dropping into a $50,000 maiden claimer at Churchill.

It helps that trainer Brad Cox wins at a 28% rate with second-time starters, suggesting Honest Opinion can improve off his debut. We’ll bet Honest Opinion to win and single him to conclude our double wager.


  • #1 Honest Opinion (2-1)
  • #2 I’m Your Man (8-1)
  • #4 Performance Plus (20-1)


  • $20 to win on #1 Honest Opinion

Carryover Watch

Churchill Downs: Race 1: $3,408 Super High 5 carryover (1:00 p.m. ET)

The racing week at Churchill Downs kicks off on Wednesday with a $3,408 carryover up for grabs in the $1 Super High 5.

The prize pool is available to chase right off the bat in Race 1, a $75,000 maiden claimer taking place over 1 1/16 miles on dirt. With seven entries, there are only 2,520 possible Super High 5 outcomes to analyze.

There isn’t much pace in this field on paper, and that should play to the strengths of morning line favorite #3 Hero’s Medal (4-5), who has to be viewed as the horse to beat. The stoutly bred son of Medaglia d’Oro got run off his feet in a fast-paced maiden special weight racing a one-turn mile at Churchill Downs last month, falling back to eighth place early on before rallying to finish fourth.

But in a pair of slower-paced 1 1/8-mile maiden special weights around two turns at Saratoga during the summer, Hero’s Medal showed significantly more tactical speed. He set the pace on July 14 before fading to finish fourth (placed sixth via disqualification), then improved to finish third by 1 3/4 lengths with a pace-tracking trip on Aug. 11.

Hero’s Medal figures to work out a favorable trip racing close to the pace while stretching back out around two turns on Wednesday, setting the stage for a breakthrough victory under hot jockey Tyler Gaffalione. Throw in the fact Hero’s Medal is the fastest entrant from a Brisnet Speed rating perspective, and he’s worth keying on top in the Super High 5.

Who should we use underneath? That’s a tougher question, because the remaining contenders are difficult to sort out. But counting on #2 Runningforjoy (5-2) to finish either second or third seems like a safe bet. The son of Gun Runner rallied to finish fourth by 2 3/4 lengths in a $100,000 maiden claimer racing 1 1/16 miles at Keeneland last month, earning a sharp 91 Brisnet Speed rating that stamps him as the second-fastest horse in Tuesday’s field.

Here’s how we’ll bet the Super High 5:

  • $1 Super High 5: 3 with 2 with 4,5,6,7 with 4,5,6,7 with 4,5,6,7 ($24)
  • $1 Super High 5: 3 with 4,5,6,7 with 2 with 4,5,6,7 with 4,5,6,7 ($24)
    Total: $48

Good luck!