Keeler Johnson's picks and plays Aug. 10
Handicapper J. Keeler Johnson shares $75 worth of picks and plays for Wednesday, Aug. 10 at Colonial Downs, Presque Isle Downs, and Saratoga, along with a horse to single in Presque Isle's $1,014 Pick 5 carryover.
Picks and Plays
Colonial Downs: Race 1: Maiden Special Weight (one mile, 1:45 p.m. ET)
Trainer Kelsey Danner has done fine work getting juveniles ready to debut in routes at Colonial Downs. Since 2020, she’s compiled a 4-1-1-0 record with such starters.
This bodes well for the chances of Danner’s unraced two-year-old #6 Welaka (9-5). The stoutly bred son of Malibu Moon was produced by St. John’s River, a Delaware Oaks (G2) winner and Kentucky Oaks (G1) runner-up. Welaka has been posting sharp workouts at Colonial (including a bullet five furlongs in :59 3/5) and looks ready to fire a winning shot on debut.
#4 Gigante (9-2), switching to dirt off a fifth-place finish in his debut sprinting on turf, can complete the exacta for Hall of Fame trainer Steve Asmussen.
- $20 Exacta: 6 with 4
Presque Isle Downs: Race 3: Maiden Special Weight (one mile on Tapeta, 2:24 p.m. ET)
#5 Indian Spideroo (9-5) ran reasonably well in her debut sprinting five furlongs at Presque Isle Downs, tracking the early pace before staying on to finish fourth by 2 1/2 lengths. The 69 Speed rating she posted is easily the highest figure in Wednesday’s field.
Trainer S. Matthew Kintz wins at a lofty 25% rate with horses making the sprint-to-route transition, and hot jockey Avery Whisman (a 21% winner at Presque Isle this meet) is named to ride. All signs suggest Indian Spideroo is ready to beat #1 Elsa’s Rocket (5-1) and #4 Zora (5-2) in the dash to the finish line.
- $10 Exacta: 5 with 1,4 ($20)
- $5 Trifecta: 5 with 1,4 with 1,4 ($10)
Saratoga: Race 8: Tale of the Cat S. (seven furlongs, 5:05 p.m. ET)
#5 Mr Phil (3-1) faltered when attempting to match strides with champion Jackie’s Warrior in the True North S. (G2) two months ago. But the five-year-old gelding had previously rattled off three straight allowance optional claiming victories at Aqueduct and Belmont Park, earning flashy Speed ratings of 105, 97, and 102.
Mr Phil has lots of early speed and figures to work out a favorable trip while breaking from the outside post in a small field at Saratoga. He can parlay this advantage into victory over John A. Nerud S. (G2) third-place finisher #4 Repo Rocks (9-2) and the deep-closing route runner #3 Southern District (7-5).
- $15 to win on #5 Mr Phil
- $5 Exacta: 5 with 3,4 ($10)
Presque Isle Downs, Race 4: $1,014 Pick 5 carryover (2:51 p.m. ET)
There were plenty of upsets to go around on Tuesday at Presque Isle Downs. Four of the final five races of the afternoon were won in upset fashion, triggering a $1,014 carryover for Wednesday’s 50-cent Late Pick 5.
The sequence kicks off in Race 4, a $6,250 claimer for fillies and mares who have never won two races. Nine horses have turned out to contest the 5 1/2-furlong Tapeta sprint, but despite the large field size, Race 4 looks like a good spot to seek a Pick 5 single.
The morning line favorite is #9 Looking for Love (3-1), and she looks like a great fit for this race. The daughter of Kentucky Derby (G1) winner Animal Kingdom hasn’t missed the board in four starts over the Presque Isle Tapeta, and two starts back she employed pacesetting tactics to win a $5,000 maiden claimer sprinting 5 1/2 furlongs by 1 1/2 lengths.
Looking for Love followed up with a strong showing in a $6,250 claimer for non-winners of two races. Stretching out over six furlongs, Looking for Love opened up a daylight early lead through quick fractions of :21.88 and :44.95 before weakening in the final furlong to finish third, beaten only 1 1/4 lengths.
Looking for Love brings competitive Speed ratings to the table and figures to enjoy a favorable trip while breaking from the outside post. Her two most likely pace rivals are #1 Saturdays Vapor (12-1) and #2 Runaway Phyllis (8-1), two contenders who haven’t been in the strongest form lately. If Looking for Love is able to secure an easier lead than last time, she figures to step forward and deliver a winning effort in her second try at this class level.
There are a couple of other reasons to like Looking for Love. She’s already defeated four of her eight Wednesday rivals, including #4 Dontlosethatnumber (4-1) and #6 Pivotal Woman (5-1), the third and fourth choices on the morning line. And Looking for Love is cutting back in distance to 5 1/2 furlongs, the distance of her maiden victory. Looking for Love might not be the most rock-solid single we’ve ever recommended, but in a competitive sequence, she looks as sound a choice as any to build tickets around.