Keeler Johnson's picks and plays July 8

July 8th, 2022

Handicapper J. Keeler Johnson shares $90 worth of picks and plays for Friday, July 8 at Ellis Park and Prairie Meadows, along with a horse to single in the $197 Pick 6 carryover at Lone Star Park.

Today’s special offers from TwinSpires include:

  • Exacta Insurance: Receive refunds on exacta bets (up to $10) if your two selected horses finish in the first three home (but not in the winning order) in select races at Monmouth Park. Offer applies to straight exacta bets only.
  • Rest of the World Bet Back: Receive refunds on win bets (up to $10) if your horse finishes second in eligible races at Sunshine Coast (Australia).

Picks and Plays

Ellis Park: Race 5: Maiden Special Weight (five furlongs, 3:42 p.m. ET)

#7 Retained (4-1) has been training with promise for Brendan Walsh, who has compiled a respectable 14-2-3-1 (14% wins, 43% in the money) record debuting juveniles over the Ellis Park dirt since 2020. Retained wrapped up his preparations by breezing a fast four furlongs from the Keeneland starting gate in :47 1/5.

Retained is a son of Breeders’ Cup Classic (G1) winner Bayern, who sires a solid 18% winners from first-time starters, so we’ll take a shot betting Retained to win and keying him over #2 Meraj (9-5) and #3 Eli’s Promise (5-1) in the exacta.

  • $20 to win on #7 Retained
  • $5 Exacta: 7 with 2,3 ($10)
    Total: $30

Prairie Meadows: Race 8: Iowa Distaff S. (1 1/16 miles, 10:09 p.m. ET)

#1 Misty Veil (7-2) has cracked the exacta in 10 of her last 11 starts, including her last five in a row. Along the way, she’s posted a bevy of competitive Brisnet Speed ratings, most recently throwing down a 94 when second in an $80,000 allowance optional claimer racing 1 1/16 miles at Churchill Downs.

Misty Veil looks like a good fit for the Iowa Distaff field and brings an abundance of tactical speed to the table, opening the door to set or stalk the pace while breaking from the rail. Stretch-running #7 Oliviaofthedesert (5-2), a two-time stakes winner at Prairie Meadows, can complete the exacta.

  • $20 to win on #1 Misty Veil
  • $10 Exacta: 1 with 7
    Total: $30

Prairie Meadows: Race 9: Iowa Sprint S. (six furlongs, 10:38 p.m. ET)

#4 Oil Money (5-2) has been on fire for high-percentage trainer Jon Arnett (a 36% winner this meet), rattling off four consecutive victories. Three of those wins have come at Prairie Meadows, including a blowout 6 1/4-length score in the six-furlong Ed Skinner S. last month.

In the Ed Skinner, Oil Money carved out fast fractions of :21.63 and :43.65 before powering to the finish line in 1:08.03. He should have every chance to keep his momentum rolling in the Iowa Sprint, with #2 Top Gunner (2-1) and #7 Macron (5-1) rounding out the exacta and trifecta.

  • $20 Exacta: 4 with 2
  • $10 Trifecta: 4 with 2 with 7
    Total: $30

Carryover Watch

Lone Star Park, Race 3: $197 Pick 6 carryover (8:31 p.m. ET)

If you want to chase a non-jackpot carryover at a U.S. Thoroughbred racetrack on Friday… there aren’t a lot of options to choose from. But Lone Star Park has at least obliged with a $197 Pick 6 carryover, and while it’s not a huge prize pool, there are several reasons to give the sequence a look.

For starters, the minimum bet amount is just 50 cents, making it less expensive to play than the $1 and $2 varieties commonly found at other tracks with non-jackpot Pick 6 wagers. For another, the takeout rate is a low 12%. And 25% of the daily pool is paid out as consolation to bettors who select five of six winners.

Just as importantly, Friday’s Pick 6 features a competitive sequence. The six races have drawn a total of 53 entries, averaging more than 8.8 horses per race. All told, there are 411,600 possible outcomes before scratches, so any winning ticket is eligible to produce a solid payoff.

It’s always helpful to start Pick 6 ticket construction by identifying a trustworthy single, and Friday provides a viable opportunity in Race 7, a one-mile maiden special weight. Only seven horses have been entered, and morning line favorite #2 Golden Flash (7-5) looks like a possible standout.

A son of three-time leading sire Into Mischief, Golden Flash has displayed sharp form at Lone Star in recent months. On May 1t, he ran second in a one-mile maiden special weight, beaten 2 1/2 lengths after leading into midstretch. Then on June 26, Golden Flash ran second in a $20,000 maiden claimer, missing by just half a length after carving out the pace.

These efforts produced Brisnet Speed ratings of 77 and 80, which rank among the best figures in Friday’s field. There isn’t much pace in the mix on paper, so Golden Flash—with his proven tactical speed—should have every chance to shake loose on an uncontested lead under jockey Ry Eikleberry, who has won at a 21% rate this year.

All told, the third time might be the charm for Golden Flash at Lone Star Park, with his third start over the local oval producing a breakthrough victory as a short-priced Pick 6 single.

Good luck!