Keeler Johnson's picks and plays Aug. 23
Handicapper J. Keeler Johnson shares picks and plays for Tuesday, Aug. 23 at Colonial Downs and Presque Isle Downs, along with tickets for the $2,737 Super High 5 carryover at Horseshoe Indianapolis.
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 Tuesday from Aug. 2 through Oct. 4.
Picks and Plays
Presque Isle Downs: Race 1: Maiden Special Weight (one mile on Tapeta, 1:30 p.m. ET)
#3 Motito (8-5) misfired when challenging males in a maiden special weight for Pennsylvania-breds at Presque Isle Downs last month, finishing sixth after uncharacteristically pressing the early pace. But the Tim Girten trainee figures to bounce back while dropping into a maiden special weight for Pennsylvania-bred fillies and mares.
Motito brings competitive Brisnet Speed ratings to the table and has finished second in both of her previous starts over this track, distance, and class level. Throw in the fact Girten is winning at a 26% rate at Presque Isle, and Motito looms as a logical choice to beat #2 Vaccina (7-2) and #1 Geared Up (5-2) to the winner’s circle.
We’ll play exacta and trifecta tickets, designing the latter to capitalize on the Trifecta Tuesday promotion.
- $15 Exacta: 3 with 2
- $5 Trifecta: 3 with 2 with 1
Colonial Downs: Race 4: Maiden Special Weight (1 1/16 miles on turf, 3:09 p.m. ET)
#4 Luck in the Dusk (2-1) ran well in her debut racing one mile over the Colonial Downs turf course. The Kelsey Danner trainee rallied nicely after a troubled start, gaining three lengths in the final furlong to finish second by 2 1/2 lengths.
Danner wins at a respectable 15% rate with second-time starters, so we’ll try betting Luck in the Dusk over #2 Determined Crush (7-2) and #7 G Laurie (4-1) in the exacta.
- $10 Exacta: 4 with 2,7 ($20)
Presque Isle Downs: Race 5: Maiden Special Weight (5 1/2 furlongs on Tapeta, 3:18 p.m. ET)
#5 Schiffhauer Strong (5-2) just barely failed to win his debut sprinting five furlongs over this track and class level last month. Overlooked at odds of 18-1, the son of Belmont S. (G1) winner Palace Malice rallied gamely from last place to finish second, beaten a head in a driving finish.
This effort produced a respectable 71 Brisnet Speed rating, suggesting Schiffhauer Strong has the talent to vie for victory against the Timothy Hamm trainees #2 Falk (5-1) and #3 Shammah (9-5). We’ll play the race accordingly with an exacta.
- $10 Exacta: 5 with 2,3 ($20)
Horseshoe Indianapolis, Race 4: $2,737 Super High 5 carryover (4:03 p.m. ET)
Do you feel like chasing a non-jackpot carryover on Tuesday afternoon? Then you ought to check out the action at Horseshoe Indianapolis, where Race 4 features a $2,737 carryover in the 10-cent “Grand High 5” Super High 5.
Race 4 is a five-furlong maiden special weight for Indiana-bred juveniles. Nine horses have been entered, including five first-time starters, so there are plenty of ways the race could realistically unfold.
That said, we’ll favor the chances of #8 Scenic Justice (3-1), the morning line favorite for logical reasons. Trainer Anthony Granitz has gone 4-for-14 (29%) debuting juveniles in sprints at Horseshoe Indianapolis since 2020, which bodes well for Scenic Justice. The two-year-old colt breezed a quick half-mile from the Belterra Park starting gate earlier this month and will be guided on debut by hot jockey Joseph Ramos, a 20% winner at Horseshoe Indianapolis this meet.
Underneath Scenic Justice, we have to respect #3 Good Forever (7-2). In his Aug. 4 debut over this track, distance, and class level, the chestnut gelding rallied from fourth place in a large field to finish second over #2 Jenny’s Beignet (9-2). The latter colt has hit the board in two of his three starts over this track and class level, earning improving Brisnet Speed ratings along the way.
We can’t dismiss #5 Fierce Justice (5-1) from consideration either. The unraced gelding is trained by Cipriano Contreras, who wins at a solid 17% rate with first-time starters. Fierce Justice has put together a solid work tab capped off by a quick four furlongs from the Horseshoe Indianapolis starting gate in :47 4/5, suggesting he has some ability. Adding to the appeal is the fact jockey Emmanuel Esquivel has won at a 28% rate teaming up with Contreras over the last two months.
Here’s how we’ll bet the Super High 5:
- 10-cent Super High 5: 8 with 3,5 with 2,3,5,6,7 with 2,3,5,6,7 with ALL ($12)
- 10-cent Super High 5: 8 with 2,3,5,6,7 with 3,5 with 2,3,5,6,7 with ALL ($12)