Keeler Johnson's picks and plays Aug. 2

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August 2nd, 2022

Handicapper J. Keeler Johnson shares picks and plays for Tuesday, Aug. 2 at Colonial Downs and Presque Isle Downs, along with tickets for the $1,351 Super High 5 carryover at Louisiana Downs.

Today’s special offers from TwinSpires include:

  • Trifecta Tuesday: Receive a 15% bonus on trifecta winnings (excluding stake amount; up to $25 per day) on every Monday from Aug. 2 through Oct. 4.

Picks and Plays

Colonial Downs: Race 1: Maiden Special Weight (5 1/2 furlongs on turf, 1:45 p.m. ET)

#3 Rambert (1-1) has finished second in each of her first three starts, including a five-furlong turf stakes at Colonial Downs last summer. She recently returned from a long layoff to finish second by less than one length in a 5 1/2-furlong maiden special weight over the Laurel Park grass course and should be tough to deny in her second run of the season.

For second place, we’ll use the speedy #7 In Vain (9-2), who employed forwardly placed tactics to finish second in a pair of $45,000 maiden claimers sprinting 5 1/2 furlongs on turf at Laurel last month.

Presque Isle Downs: Race 2: Maiden Special Weight (five furlongs on Tapeta, 1:57 p.m. ET)

Trainer Timothy Hamm has been on fire at Presque Isle this meet, winning at a 35% rate. He’s been especially hot debuting juveniles at Presque Isle, compiling a stellar 8-4-2-1 record.

This bodes well for the chances of Hamm’s #3 Shammah (3-1). The unraced two-year-old has been cranking out sharp workouts and will be guided by Presque Isle’s leading jockey Pablo Morales, who has won at a 46% rate teaming up with Hamm over the last two months.

A win bet is definitely in order, followed by an exacta using #1 I Strong (9-2) and #4 Smoke Lightening (5-2) for second place.

  • $20 to win on 3 Shammah
  • $5 Exacta: 3 with 1,4 ($10)
    Total: $30

Colonial Downs: Race 2: $25,000 Maiden Claiming (six furlongs, 2:13 p.m. ET)

The experienced runners in this maiden claiming sprint don’t appear overly tough at first glance, so we’ll favor the first-time starter #1 Scoober (2-1). Trained by Larry Rivelli (who wins at a 24% rate with first-time starters), Scoober has put together a promising work tab in preparation for his debut, highlighted by a bullet half-mile in :47 at Hawthorne.

Throw in the presence of hot jockey Jareth Loveberry (a 26% winner at Colonial Downs this meet), and Scoober is a logical choice to play over fellow first-time starters #6 Higgins Lake (5-2) and #7 Genius (7-2) in the exacta and trifecta. We’ll design the latter ticket to capitalize on the Trifecta Tuesday promotion.

  • $10 Exacta: 1 with 6,7 ($20)
  • $5 Trifecta: 1 with 6,7 with 6,7 ($10)
    Total: $30

Carryover Watch

Louisiana Downs, Race 7: $1,351 Super High 5 carryover (6:49 p.m. ET)

Tuesday afternoon at Louisiana Downs brings a $1,351 carryover in the 50-cent Super High 5.

As usual, the prize pool is up for grabs in the final race of the afternoon: Race 7, a $12,500 claimer for horses who have never won three races. The distance is 7 1/2 furlongs on turf and nine horses have been entered, although two of them—#1 Papaws Boy (3-1) and #1A Now You Rules (3-1)—are coupled in the betting.

The coupled entrymates are tricky to analyze in advance because both are trained by Karl Broberg, both are owned by End Zone Athletics, and both are slated to be ridden by red-hot apprentice jockey Vicente Del-Cid. There’s a good chance one will scratch, which complicates planning wagers.

On the bright side, both Papaws Boy and Now You Rules are logical contenders. Papaws Boy is a capable turf router who ran second in a $15,000 claimer for non-winners of two races a few starts back, while Now You Rules exits a runner-up finish over this precise course, distance, and class level.

#3 No Ka Oi (6-1) is another logical contender; he won a $12,500 claimer for non-winners of two races over this course and class level last month and is eligible to factor while facing slightly tougher company for the hot jockey/trainer duo of Jose Guerrero and Shane Wilson. #4 Okudah (5-1) is another obvious player after leading gate-to-wire in a one-mile $12,500 claimer for non-winners of two races at Louisiana Downs last month. And don’t forget about #6 Freightrainfreeman (9-2), third over this course and class level in his most recent. The 76 Brisnet Speed rating he posted looks rock-solid against Tuesday’s field.

But there are also live longshots worth backing. #7 Steels All In (15-1) won his most recent route race and ran second in his lone turf start to date, missing by just a neck in a $25,000 claimer for non-winners of two races at Sam Houston. #5 Gordon Anthony (8-1) has posted a bevy of competitive Brisnet Speed ratings against tougher company at Lone Star Park, including when third in a $25,000 claimer for non-winners of three races. And #2 Cowboy Ridge (10-1) is dropping in class out of a stakes for Texas-breds at Lone Star Park.

Rounding out the field is #8 Sonic City (5-2). The morning line favorite is something of a wildcard; he’s shipping in from the tougher Kentucky circuit, but hasn’t run on turf in nearly two years and exits a sound defeat in a $10,000 claimer. Is dropping in class and returning to grass enough to trigger a turnaround?

Let’s get creative with our Super High 5 tickets. We’ll key the entrymates on top, count on No Ka Oi, Okudah, and Freightrainfreeman to all finish in the top five, and round out our tickets with the longshots plus Sonic City.

  • 50-cent Super High 5: 1 with 3,4,6 with 3,4,6 with 3,4,6 with 2,5,7,8 ($12)
  • 50-cent Super High 5: 1 with 3,4,6 with 3,4,6 with 2,5,7,8 with 3,4,6 ($12)
  • 50-cent Super High 5: 1 with 3,4,6 with 2,5,7,8 with 3,4,6 with 3,4,6 ($12)
  • 50-cent Super High 5: 1 with 2,5,7,8 with 3,4,6 with 3,4,6 with 3,4,6 ($12)
    Total: $48

Good luck!