Keeler Johnson's picks and plays for June 2

June 2nd, 2021

Handicapper J. Keeler Johnson shares his picks and plays for Wednesday, June 2 at Delaware Park, Indiana Grand, and Thistledown.

In addition, Keeler will share a suggested single and a price play in Parx’s $171,251 Pick 5 jackpot carryover.

Today’s special offers from TwinSpires include:

  • Midweek Bet Back: Receive refunds on win bets (up to $10) if your horse finishes second in select races at Parx Racing and Thistledown.
  • Rest of the World Bet Back: Receive refunds on win bets (up to $10) if your horse finishes second in select races at Happy Valley (Hong Kong).
  • Build Your Indiana Derby Day Bankroll: Wager at least $1,000 (excluding show bets) at Indiana Grand in April, May, and/or June and receive $30 to wager at Indiana Grand on Indiana Derby day, July 7. Bet $1,000 at Indiana Grand in all three months and receive $150.

Picks and Plays

Delaware Park, Race 8: Maiden special weight (six furlongs, 4:45 p.m. ET)

The first-time starters in this maiden sprint for three-year-olds don’t appear formidable at first glance, so we’ll favor the experienced gelding #6 Dreaming of Gerry (2-1), a veteran of six starts.

Trained by Michael Stidham (a 22% winner in dirt races at Delaware since 2016), Dreaming of Gerry has competed well against maiden special weight company at Tampa Bay Downs, where he finished second in his last three sprint starts. He earned competitive Brisnet Speed ratings along the way and should appreciate an easier field at Delaware Park, where he breezed a bullet half-mile in :49 May 25.

Let’s bet Dreaming of Gerry to win and play him in a small exacta, over #1 Mohs (3-1), runner-up in a maiden special weight sprint at Monmouth Park last summer.

$20 to win on #6 Dreaming of Gerry
$5 exacta: 6 with 1
Total: $25

Indiana Grand, Race 6: Allowance/optional claiming (one mile, 5 p.m. ET)

#5 Turnagain Tide (4-5) is the heavy favorite, because of a fast maiden victory racing one mile at Keeneland, where he vied for early command and kicked on to win with an 86 Brisnet Speed rating. But he subsequently faded to finish last in a Churchill Downs allowance, so I’m not sure 4-5 is a fair price to accept on a horse who has yet to beat winners.

Instead, we’ll take a chance with #3 Blueridge Mountain (5-2), who hasn’t missed the exacta in five starts since being claimed by high-percentage trainer Tom Amoss. Blueridge Mountain enters off back-to-back runner-up efforts over Wednesday’s track and class level, including a May 12 event where he was compromised by a pedestrian early pace.

Blueridge Mountain consistently posts competitive Brisnet Speed ratings in the 81-85 range, so if Turnagain Tide fails to replicate his maiden form, Blueridge Mountain can steal the show at a better price.

$20 to win on #3 Blueridge Mountain
$5 exacta: 3 with 1,5 ($10)
Total: $30

Thistledown, Race 2: Maiden special weight (five furlongs, 1:20 p.m. ET)

First-time starter #7 Dazzling Mist (5-2) has been training like there’s no tomorrow at Thistledown, where he breezed five furlongs from the starting gate in 1:00 and put in a bullet half-mile in :47 2/5. It’s not every day you see such impressive times from an unraced prospect on the Ohio circuit.

Although Dazzling Mist sold for just $21,000 as a juvenile, she brings a solid pedigree. She is a daughter of Preakness S. (G1) third-place finisher Astrology, out of a mare by two-time Breeders’ Cup Sprint (G1) winner Midnight Lute, which is a pedigree geared toward early maturity. Throw in the fact trainer David Wolochuk wins at a 43% rate with first-time starters, and there’s no reason to think Dazzling Mist won’t be cranked for a big effort on debut.

#2 O K Baby (4-1) can complete the exacta.

$25 to win on #7 Dazzling Mist
$5 exacta: 7 with 2
Total: $30

Carryover watch

Parx, Race 7: $171,251 Philly Big 5 jackpot (post time 3:37 p.m. ET)

The 50-cent “Philly Big 5” at Parx continues to build. A reasonably straightforward sequence of results Tuesday produced winning tickets of $1,855.55 apiece, which left a jackpot carryover of $171,251 for Wednesday’s card.

The Philly Big 5 features a 15% takeout rate, and 70% of the daily pool is distributed among winning bettors. Any bettor lucky enough to construct a unique winning ticket will earn the entire daily pool plus the six-figure jackpot.

If you’re keen to play Wednesday’s Philly Big 5, we’ve identified a couple enticing runners to build tickets around.

Best single: Race 11, #1 Hangar One (3-1)

In a race with little speed on paper, Hangar One is an enticing choice to shake loose up front and sprint home to victory. The gray gelding has been sharp since he was transferred to the care of trainer John Rodriguez at Parx and has cracked the trifecta in all three of his local starts.

On May 17, Hangar One dueled for the lead through fast fractions in a six-furlong, $16,000 starter/optional-claiming race and weakened only slightly to finish third, behind next-out winner Motataabeq.

Hangar One will stick to the same class level Wednesday but stretch out over seven furlongs. A relaxed pace over the longer trip might be all Hangar One needs to reach the winner’s circle.

Price play: Race 10, #2 Lean On E (5-1)

This one-mile, 70-yard allowance for fillies and mares has drawn a competitive field, with Lean On E an enticing choice at a fair price.

The daughter of Wilko has three wins from four starts in dirt routes at Parx and was particularly impressive in a $12,500 claiming race during the winter, when she trounced next-out winners Presto Change O and Taylor’s Belle by 11 lengths, for an 87 Brisnet Speed rating.

Lean On E enters off a sharp victory over Wednesday’s distance, which is significant, because trainer Louis Linder strikes at a 26% rate with last-out winners. Jockey Luis Ocasio (a 43% winner when he teams up with Linder) has retained the mount, which stamps Lean On E as a logical contender.

Good luck!