Keeler Johnson’s picks and plays of Oct. 27, 2023

October 27th, 2023

Handicapper J. Keeler Johnson shares picks and plays for Friday, Oct. 27 at Aqueduct, Keeneland, and Charles Town, including a horse to single in Aqueduct’s $20,080 Pick 6 carryover.

Today’s special offers from TwinSpires include:

  • Hoosier Park $2,500 Pick 4 Hit It & Split It: Hit the Pick 4 spanning Races 10-13 on Friday at Hoosier Park to win your share of a $2,500 bonus jackpot.
  • Keeneland Win Bonus: Hit multiple win bets in a single day at Keeneland to receive a bonus payoff of up to $25 per day.

Picks and Plays

Aqueduct: Race 8: Bold Ruler (G3, six furlongs, 4:22 p.m. ET)

#2 Durante (5-2) won four straight sprints by daylight margins before finishing second in an $80,000 allowance optional claimer traveling six furlongs at Aqueduct. On that occasion, Durante engaged in a three-way duel through quick fractions of :22.00 and :44.93 before failing by a head to beat the ground-saving winner #5 Cowan (6-1).

With a better setup in the Bold Ruler, Durante can turn the tables on Cowan and get back on a winning track. A win bet and an exacta using the Grade 1-placed #9 High Oak (3-1) for second place is the way we’ll play.


  • #2 Durante (5-2)
  • #9 High Oak (3-1)
  • #5 Cowan (6-1)


  • $20 to win on #2 Durante
  • $5 Exacta: 2 with 9
    Total: $25

Keeneland: Race 9: Myrtlewood S. (six furlongs, 5:16 p.m. ET)

#1 Copper Em (6-1) impressed when debuting in a six-furlong maiden special weight on dirt at Ellis Park, leading all the way to win by 4 1/4 lengths with a sharp 90 Brisnet Speed rating. The runner-up, Bella Haze, flattered the form by returning to win her next start and finish second in the Juvenile Fillies S. at Kentucky Downs.

Copper Em subsequently misfired when eighth in the Adirondack (G3) at Saratoga, but bounced back to run second in the 6 1/2-furlong Untapable S. on turf at Kentucky Downs, even after racing much closer to hot fractions of :20.79 and :44.32 than eventual winner Crown Imperial.

There’s enough to like about Copper Em’s form to make her 6-1 morning line odds enticing, so we’ll bet her to win and call it a day.


  • #1 Copper Em (6-1)
  • #5 Xtreme Diva (6-1)
  • #3 Hot Beach (7-2)


  • $25 to win on #1 Copper Em

Charles Town: Race 2: $5,000 Claiming (4 1/2 furlongs, 7:32 p.m. ET)

At one time or another, #6 De’s Castle (6-5) has beaten every rival he’ll face in this $5,000 claimer for West Virginia-breds. In fact, he trounced many of them in an Oct. 5 contest over this track, distance, and class level, carving out the pace before settling for second place by half a length. De’s Castle finished at least 5 1/4 lengths clear of the other five runners, all of whom are entered on Friday.

Since pacesetters have won 55% of 4 1/2-furlong sprints at Charles Town this meet, De’s Castle will be tough to beat if he gets out in front again. Let’s key him over #5 Windsor’s Star (9-2) and #7 Bob Zapper (6-1) in the exacta.


  • #6 De’s Castle (6-5)
  • #5 Windsor’s Star (9-2)
  • #7 Bob Zapper (6-1)


  • $14 Exacta: 6 with 5
  • $11 Exacta: 6 with 7
    Total: $25

Carryover Watch

Aqueduct: Race 4: $20,080 Pick 6 carryover (2:12 p.m. ET)

No one hit the Pick 6 at Aqueduct on Thursday, which means the $1 wager features a non-jackpot $20,080 carryover for Friday’s card.

The sequence spans Race 4 through Race 9 and encompasses three stakes: the $135,000 Chelsey Flower S., the $150,000 Athenia S., and the $200,000 Bold Ruler (G3).

We’ve already analyzed Race 8, the Bold Ruler, in which #2 Durante (5-2) looms as the horse to beat. Bettors playing on small budgets might consider singling Durante, though there’s arguably a better single candidate in Race 7, the Athenia for fillies and mares racing 1 1/8 miles on turf.

The morning line favorite in the Athenia is #6 Technical Analysis (8-5), who has won five stakes (including four graded stakes) through the years. The Chad Brown trainee was especially sharp in the one-mile De La Rose S. racing one mile at Saratoga during the summer, leading all the way to win by 3 1/2 lengths over the Grade 1-placed White Frost.

Some bettors might hesitate to single Technical Analysis given that she finished behind stablemate #3 Fluffy Socks (3-1) in Saratoga’s Ballston Spa (G2) last time out; Fluffy Socks finished second by a head while Technical Analysis weakened to fifth place after leading with five-sixteenths of a mile remaining.

But here’s the thing: Technical Analysis was only beaten one length for first place after tracking the pace in a race dominated by closers. And it’s worth noting pace-tracking tactics aren’t necessarily ideal for Technical Analysis; her last four wins have all been achieved in gate-to-wire fashion, and the only time she was beaten after making the early lead came when she finished second in the 2021 Queen Elizabeth II Challenge Cup (G1).

There are other logical pace players in the Athenia field, but none with Brisnet E1 and E2 Pace ratings as consistently strong as those belonging to Technical Analysis. Assuming she makes the lead on Friday, Technical Analysis should prove tough to run down, stamping the five-year-old mare as a viable Pick 6 single.

Good luck!