Keeler Johnson's picks and plays of May 19

May 19th, 2023

Handicapper J. Keeler Johnson shares picks and plays for Friday, May 19 at Churchill Downs and Pimlico, along with a horse to single in the $1,354 Pick 5 carryover at Belterra Park.

Today’s special offers from TwinSpires include:

  • Rest of the World $10 Money Back: Receive refunds on win bets (up to $10) if your horse finishes second in any race at Doomben (AUS).

Picks and Plays

Churchill Downs: Race 2: $125,000 Allowance Optional Claiming (six furlongs, 6:28 p.m. ET)

#1 Dazzling Blue (8-5) is unbeaten in two starts, wiring a six-furlong Churchill Downs maiden special weight before nabbing the six-furlong Letellier Memorial at Fair Grounds in the same fashion. She hasn’t run since December, but trainer Brad Cox wins at a 24% rate with horses returning from layoffs of 90 days or more, and sticking to six furlongs should suit Dazzling Blue just fine.

Let’s key Dazzling Blue on top of #6 Sunday Shoes (2-1) and #5 Back to Ohio (5-2) in exacta and trifecta tickets.


  • #1 Dazzling Blue (8-5)
  • #6 Sunday Shoes (2-1)
  • #5 Back to Ohio (5-2)


  • $10 Exacta: 1 with 5,6 ($20)
  • $5 Trifecta: 1 with 5,6 with 5,6 ($10)
    Total: $30

Pimlico: Race 4: Allaire DuPont Distaff (1 1/8 miles, 1:02 p.m. ET)

#2 Interstatedaydream (1-1) won the Black-Eyed Susan (G2) over this track and distance one year ago, but a recent fourth-place finish as the favorite in Keeneland’s Doubledogdare (G3) suggests she isn’t unbeatable while returning to Pimlico as a short-priced favorite.

Let’s try to beat Interstatedaydream with #6 Falconet (5-2). The Todd Pletcher trainee is 2-for-3 this year, sandwiching victories in the Ladies S. and Top Flight S. around a runner-up effort in the Heavenly Prize S. The winner of the Heavenly Prize was Frost Point, who came right back to win the Doubledogdare.

We’ll bet Falconet over Interstatedaydream in a cold exacta.


  • #6 Falconet (5-2)
  • #2 Interstatedaydream (1-1)
  • #1 Le Da Vida (7-2)


  • $25 Exacta: 6 with 2

Pimlico: Race 8: $62,500 Allowance Optional Claiming (six furlongs, 3:05 p.m. ET)

#6 Johnyz From Albany (5-2) never missed the trifecta in five starts as a juvenile, most notably wiring the six-furlong Maryland Million Nursery S. at Laurel Park by five lengths. He also finished second in the Maryland Juvenile S., and those stakes efforts yielded sharp Brisnet Speed ratings of 93 and 87.

Johnyz From Albany has cranked out fast workouts in preparation for his 2023 debut, so we’ll count on him to spring a mild surprise over #2 Fort Warren (7-5), the San Vicente (G2) third-place finisher whose pedigree hints he wants to run farther than six furlongs.


  • #6 Johnyz From Albany (5-2)
  • #2 Fort Warren (7-5)
  • #4 Cartographer (6-1) (scratch)


  • $20 to win on #6 Johnyz From Albany
  • $10 Exacta: 6 with 2
    Total: $30

Carryover Watch

Belterra Park: Race 4: $1,354 Pick 5 carryover (1:55 p.m. ET)

No one managed to pick all five winners in Thursday’s 50-cent Pick 5 at Belterra Park. In fact, no one managed to pick four winners. Three out of five returned a consolation payoff of $26.65 and left a $1,354 carryover for Friday’s card.

The Pick 5 spans Races 4-8, a sequence containing 34 horses (averaging 6.8 per race) and 14,112 possible outcomes before scratches. Those are manageable numbers by Pick 5 standards, so the sequence should be winnable on a modest budget.

That should be especially true if we can bring home #5 Kick Out the Jams (9-5) as a single in Race 7. The race in question is a $12,500 claimer for horses who have never won three races, and the distance is one mile on turf. With seven entries, singling Kick Out the Jams reduces the number of Pick 5 possibilities to consider from 14,112 to 2,016.

The credentials of Kick Out the Jams are formidable. The five-year-old mare has been facing tougher competition over synthetic tracks at Presque Isle Downs and Turfway Park; two starts back, she finished third in a $15,000 claimer for non-winners of three races.

But Kick Out the Jams has also run well on grass, compiling an 8-2-0-3 record. In fact, her last two turf starts came over the Belterra lawn last year, when Kick Out the Jams won a $12,500 claimer for non-winners of two races and finished third in a $12,500 claimer for non-winners of three races. In the latter contest, Kick Out the Jams gained 7 1/4 lengths through the final furlong alone.

Returning to the Belterra turf can trigger a winning run from Kick Out the Jams. She’s slated to be ridden by Eder Martinez, who has gone 1-for-3 (33%) teaming up with trainer Richard Estvanko over the last two months. And Estvanko has compiled a sharp 4-1-0-2 record at Belterra this meet—that’s a 25% win rate and a 75% in-the-money rate.

Throw in the fact Kick Out the Jams has posted 70+ Brisnet Speed ratings in eight of her last nine starts, and we’ve found a logical single to build tickets around.

Good luck!