Keeler Johnson’s picks and plays of Nov. 17, 2023

November 17th, 2023

Handicapper J. Keeler Johnson shares picks and plays for Friday, Nov. 17 at Aqueduct and Fair Grounds, along with tickets for the $2,624 Super High 5 carryover at Churchill Downs.

Today’s special offers from TwinSpires include:

  • 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.
  • 10x Points at Churchill Downs: Receive 10x reward points on all wagers at Churchill Downs from Nov. 8 through Nov. 26.
  • Golden Gate Fields Friday $2,000 Late Pick 5 Hit It & Split It: Hit the Late Pick 5 at Golden Gate Fields on any Friday from Nov. 10 through Nov. 24 to win your share of a $2,000 weekly jackpot.
  • Fraser Downs 15% Win Bonus: Earn a 15% bonus (up to $25 per day) on winning win wagers at Fraser Downs every Thursday and Friday from Nov. 16 through Dec. 15.

Picks and Plays

Aqueduct: Race 6: Tepin S. (one mile on turf, 2:44 p.m. ET)

#5 Brocknardini (5-1) romped in her debut against New York-bred rivals at Saratoga, finished far back with a troubled trip in the Natalma (G1) at Woodbine, and then bounced back to dominate the Selima S. at Laurel Park. She’s shown flashes of meaningful talent for hot trainer George Weaver (5-for-12, 42% at Aqueduct this meet), so Brocknardini is worth betting to win under four-time Eclipse Award-winning jockey Irad Ortiz.

#3 Memorialize (5-2), fifth in the Miss Grillo (G2) behind next-out Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf (G1) winner Hard to Justify, can battle with the beautifully bred first-time starter #7 Voter Registration (9-2) to complete the exacta.


  • #5 Brocknardini (5-1)
  • #3 Memorialize (5-2)
  • #7 Voter Registration (9-2)


  • $20 to win on #5 Brocknardini
  • $5 Exacta: 5 with 3,7 ($10)
    Total: $30

Fair Grounds: Race 8: John Valene Memorial S. (one mile and 70 yards, 5:15 p.m. ET)

#2 Sabra Tuff (5-1) has lost 10 straight races since winning her debut, but nine of those defeats came against stakes competition. She’s competed six times against graded stakes foes and managed to hit the board in the 2022 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies (G1) and 2023 Alabama (G1), so dropping in class for a stakes restricted to Louisiana-bred fillies and mares might be all Sabra Tuff needs to visit the winner’s circle at a nice price.

We’ll bet Sabra Tuff to win and single her to start a double wager.


  • #2 Sabra Tuff (5-1)
  • #6 A G’s Charlotte (5-2)
  • #5 Free Like a Girl (2-1)


  • $18 to win on #2 Sabra Tuff
  • $6 Double: 2 with 1,13 ($12)
    Total: $30

Fair Grounds: Race 9: Donovan L. Ferguson Memorial S. (5 1/2 furlongs, 5:45 p.m. ET)

#13 Accommodate Eva (4-1) is the morning line favorite while dropping in class off a 10th-place finish in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies (G1), but she risks a wide trip while breaking from post 13.

#1 Clearly a Test (12-1) has upset potential. Fourth in each of her first three starts against maiden special weight competition at Saratoga, Clearly a Test brings competitive Brisnet Speed ratings to the table and enters off a bullet half-mile workout in :47 4/5 at Fair Grounds.

We’ll box Accommodate Eva and Clearly a Test in an exacta, use them both to conclude our double wager, and then add a win bet on Clearly a Test for good measure.


  • #1 Clearly a Test (12-1)
  • #13 Accommodate Eva (4-1)
  • #5 Diamond Deal (5-1)


  • $10 to win on #1 Clearly a Test
  • $6 Exacta: 13 with 1
  • $4 Exacta: 1 with 13
    Total: $20

Carryover Watch

Churchill Downs: Race 3: $2,624 Super High 5 carryover (2:00 p.m. ET)

No one managed to solve the $1 Super High 5 in Thursday’s final race at Churchill Downs, which isn’t too surprising since a 43-1 shot visited the winner’s circle and another 43-1 shot finished fourth. That means there’s a $2,624 Super High 5 carryover up for grabs in Friday’s third race at Churchill Downs.

Race 3 is a $40,000 maiden claimer for fillies and mares racing seven furlongs on dirt. Seven horses have been entered, equating to 2,520 possible Super High 5 outcomes. That doesn’t sound too hard to solve, right?

Here’s the problem: the par winning Brisnet Speed rating for this type of race is 80, a number none of the experienced runners have reached. In fact, none have put forth a number higher than 76 in 2023, and the highest last-out number posted by any of the entrants is a 71. Where do we even begin in sorting out this field? It’s hard to know when there aren’t many compelling form lines to go by.

We’ll start by acknowledging morning line favorite #3 Nursekringledances (3-1) as a logical contender to finish in the top two. Her 0-for-9 lifetime record isn’t great, but her last three dirt starts have been respectable. She finished a pacesetting fourth in a one-mile maiden special weight at Churchill Downs, dropped in class to rally and finish second in a $100,000 maiden claimer sprinting seven furlongs at Ellis Park, and most recently rallied after a troubled start to finish fourth in a $50,000 maiden claimer dashing six furlongs at Keeneland.

Stretching back out over seven furlongs should be a better fit for Nursekringledances, and a clean break in this somewhat paceless field should place her much closer to the early tempo than last time. Dropping down to the $40,000 maiden claiming level further cements Nursekringledances as a key win threat.

The other horse we’re keen to support is the first-time starter #1 She’s So Malice (4-1). Trained by Mike Maker (who wins at a respectable 12% rate with horses debuting in maiden claimers), She’s So Malice has shown speed in the mornings and enters off a bullet-five furlong workout at Ellis Park in 1:00 1/5. The daughter of Belmont (G1) winner Palace Malice won’t have to be a superstar to vie for victory against Friday’s field, and the fact she’ll be ridden by Churchill’s leading jockey Tyler Gaffalione adds to the appeal.

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

  • $1 Super High 5: 3 with 1 with 4,5,7 with 4,5,6,7 with 4,5,6,7 ($18)
  • $1 Super High 5: 3 with 4,5,7 with 1 with 4,5,6,7 with 4,5,6,7 ($18)
  • $1 Super High 5: 1 with 3 with 4,5,7 with 4,5,6,7 with 4,5,6,7 ($18)
    Total: $54

Good luck!