Keeler Johnson’s picks and plays on November 18

Keeler Johnson’s picks and plays on November 18
Keeler Johnson’s picks and plays on November 18

Handicapper J. Keeler Johnson shares his picks and plays on Friday November 18 at Churchill Downs and Fair Grounds, as well as a horse to choose from in the non-jackpot Pick 5 and Pick 6 reports at Aqueduct.

Today’s special offers from TwinSpires include:

  • The rest of the world bets: Receive refunds on winning bets (up to $10) if your horse finishes second in qualifying races at Kembla Grange (Australia).
  • Exacta Insurance: Receive refunds on exacta bets (up to $10) if your two selected horses finish in the top three at home (but not in winning order) in select races at Del Mar. Offer applies only to Straight exact bets.
  • Churchill Downs $2,000 Late Pick 4 Hit It & Split It: Hit the Late Pick 4 at Churchill Downs to split a $2,000 daily jackpot.
  • Fair Grounds $1,000 Late Pick 5 Hit It & Split It: Hit the Late Pick 5 at Fair Grounds to split a $1,000 daily jackpot.

Choices and games

Churchill Downs: Race 6: Maiden Special Weight (2,400 metres, 3:31 p.m. ET)

#6 Klassy Bridgette (8-5) ran well in his first two sprint starts against the premier special-weight company. On Sept. 18 at Churchill Downs, Klassy Bridgette rallied well to finish second behind upcoming optional stipend winner Pretty Mischievous. Then on 4 November she showed improved tactical speed to finish second to Keeneland, beaten by just 1 1/2 lengths.

Those efforts produced identical Brisnet speed ratings of 83, higher than the winning number by (81) for Friday’s conditions. Klassy Bridgette was a little unlucky not to win already, so maybe third time around will be the charm.

Second time beginners #1 AP Lady (6-1) and #5 Tabor Time (6-1) are both eligible to continue their debuts and fight for the exact honors.

  • $10 Exact: 6 with 1.5 ($20)

Fair Grounds: Race 7: Maiden Special Weight (1,400 metres, 7:04 p.m. ET)

Since 2020, trainer Michael Stidham has gone 9-for-36 (25%) saddled experienced two-year-olds at Fair Grounds. This impressive statistic bodes well for #5 Motivating (7-2) in this first sprint for the juveniles.

Motivating showed promise on his clay-court debut at Delaware Park, finishing third in a special six-stage first weight. The winner and runner-up returned to earn their next starts and place themselves against the stakes company.

The motivation didn’t work as well when she was fourth in an inaugural one-mile special weight on the Colonial Downs turf course, but getting back to the dirt and closing the distance can spark a rebound. We’ll bet Into Mischief’s son will win, put him ahead in the exacta and pick him to start a double bet.

  • $18 to be won on #5 Motivation
  • Exacta at $4: 5 with 1,2,10 ($12)
  • $20 Doubles: 5 with 4
    Total: $50

Fairgrounds: Race 8: Happy Ticket S. (1,400 meters, 7:36 p.m. ET)

#4 Loaded Eggs (3-5) has won five of his six starts, and his only loss was a clear second place finish in the Victory Ride (G3) at Belmont Park. Ova Charged is 3 for 3 against the Louisiana competition and 2 for 2 on the main track at Fair Grounds, notably beating Prioress (G2) winner and Frizette (G1) third Cilla on Louisiana Champions Day 2021 Ladies Sprint S.

Ova Charged hasn’t raced since March, but trainer Jose Camejo is winning at a 22% rate with horses returning from layoffs of 90 days or more, and Ova Charged just about dominates the Happy Ticket field from point view of Brisnet speed. We will choose Ova Charged to conclude our double bet and play it again #3 Fiery beauty (6-1) in an exacta for good measure.

Carry-over watch

Aqueduct Race 5: $25,216 Pick 6 Deferral (1:46 p.m. ET)
Aqueduct, Race 6: $172,117 Pick 5 postponed (2:16 p.m. ET)

Fans of non-jackpot rollovers will be delighted to hear that there are two lucrative prize pools worth racing on Friday at Aqueduct. The first is the $1 Pick 6, which carries a carry of $25,216. But the 5-50 Cent Late Pick is even more appealing with $172,117 up for grabs.

Building winning tickets won’t be easy, but at least the Pick 5 overlaps with the Pick 6, so handicapping one sets you up to play the other. Prior to the stripes, the Pick 6 offers 819,819 possible outcomes and the Pick 5 117,117, although the typical withdrawal of equally eligible entrants and only on the main lane will reduce these numbers somewhat.

The first leg of the Pick 5 (and the second leg of the Pick 6) is race 6, an allowance for fillies and mares running 1 3/8 miles on grass. The race attracted 13 participants, including three equally eligible runners, but despite the large number of participants, it seems like a perfect place to look for one.

The filly that we will favor is #5 Best Staff (2-1), a three-year-old conditioned by Hall of Fame coach Shug McGaughey. A solidly bred daughter of Tapit and the 1 1/4 mile Flower Bowl (G1) winner War Flag, Personal Best showed nearly linear improvement in her first five starts, finishing fourth, third, third and second before break through in his fifth try.

Personal Best’s first victory came while running 1 5/16 miles at Kentucky Downs, his longest run to date of three-sixteenths of a mile. After picking up the pace from third place, Personal Best took over and cleared away to win by 3 3/4 lengths, earning a career-best 94 Brisnet Speed.

Personal Best then ran well in an 1 1/8 mile allowance at Keeneland, rallying from midfield to finish second by a length. Extending 1 3/8 miles should be more fitting for Personal Best, which picks up three-time Eclipse Award-winning jockey Irad Ortiz Jr. for his Aqueduct debut. Ortiz has gone 9-for-36 (25%) at Aqueduct since Nov. 4 and 2-for-4 (40%) teaming with McGaughey over the past two months, so Personal Best has positive jockey stats in their corner.

Taking all of these factors together, Personal Best comes across as a logical single to highlight in the Pick 5 and Pick 6. Good luck!


. The choices the games Keeler Johnson November

. Keeler Johnsons picks plays November

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