Keeler Johnson’s picks and plays of Nov. 9, 2023

November 9th, 2023

Handicapper J. Keeler Johnson shares picks and plays for Thursday, Nov. 9 at Aqueduct, Horseshoe Indianapolis, and Churchill Downs, including a 15-1 longshot.

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.

Picks and Plays

Aqueduct: Race 6: Maiden Special Weight (six furlongs on turf, 2:44 p.m. ET)

#1 Typhoon Fury (4-1) has squared off against talented horses in his first two starts on dirt, including Champagne (G1) runner-up General Partner and Atlantic Beach S. runner-up Irish Gent. Typhoon Fury ran second in an off-the-turf maiden special weight at Aqueduct last month and may improve while trying grass; after all, trainer George Weaver wins at a 21% rate with horses running on turf for the first time, and Typhoon Fury is a son of Mitole, who is siring a solid 14% winners from first-time turf starters.

Throw in the fact Weaver has gone 3-for-5 (60%) at Aqueduct this meet, and Typhoon Fury is worth betting to win.


  • #1 Typhoon Fury (4-1)
  • #3 Ocala Rocket (2-1)
  • #8 Air Invasion (7-2)


  • $20 to win on #1 Typhoon Fury

Horseshoe Indianapolis: Race 3: Maiden Special Weight (4 1/2 furlongs, 3:12 p.m. ET)

#4 Quimichis (15-1) debuted in a six-furlong maiden special weight at Churchill Downs, where she carved out a quick opening quarter-mile fraction before fading down the homestretch to finish last. Cutting back to 4 1/2 furlongs and facing easier competition at Horseshoe Indianapolis can produce a stronger showing.

Quimichis also has positive trainer and jockey stats in her corner. Trainer Fausto Gutierrez wins at a 16% rate with second-time starters (much higher than his 7% win rate with debuting runners) and at a 21% rate with shippers. As for jockey Marcelino Pedroza Jr., he’s gone 2-for-2 teaming up with Gutierrez over the last two months.

Let’s bet Quimichis to win and box her in the exacta with logical favorite #8 Musical Diva (6-5), favoring the lower-paying combination with Musical Diva on top.


  • #4 Quimichis (15-1)
  • #8 Musical Diva (6-5)
  • #6 Chip Shortage (4-1)


  • $18 to win on #4 Quimichis
  • $8 Exacta: 8 with 4
  • $4 Exacta: 4 with 8
    Total: $30

Churchill Downs: Race 8: $100,000 Allowance Optional Claiming (1 1/16 miles, 4:33 p.m. ET)

#1 First World War (4-1) won hs debut on turf, then put up a good fight to finish fourth as the favorite in the 1 1/16-mile Bourbon (G2) over the Keeneland lawn. He was beaten only 1 1/2 lengths by Can Group, who returned to finish a close fourth in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf (G1).

There’s enough dirt potential in First World War’s pedigree to suggest he can win while switching surfaces and dropping down the class ladder. It helps that trainer Brendan Walsh wins at a 23% rate with horses switching from turf to dirt.

At 4-1, a win bet on First World War is in order. Then we’ll box him in an exacta with flashy Churchill Downs maiden winner #5 Catching Freedom (5-2).


  • #1 First World War (4-1)
  • #5 Catching Freedom (5-2)
  • #8 Footprint (10-1)


  • $16 to win on #1 First World War
  • $7 Exacta: box 1,5 ($14)
    Total: $30

Good luck!