Keeler Johnson's picks and plays Aug. 31
Handicapper J. Keeler Johnson shares picks and plays for Wednesday, Aug. 31 at Colonial Downs, Delaware Park, and Saratoga, along with horses to single in a pair of Pick 5 carryovers at Presque Isle Downs.
Picks and Plays
Saratoga: Race 3: Maiden Special Weight (5 1/2 furlongs on turf, 2:13 p.m. ET)
#5 Rock Chalk (5-2) showed promise in his Aug. 14 debut over this track, distance, and class level, rallying fast after a slow beginning to finish second by 2 1/4 lengths. If he gets off to a better start in his second run for trainer George Weaver (a 19% winner with second-time starters), Rock Chalk can visit the winner’s circle.
#2 Webslinger (7-2) and #3 Closethegame Sugar (4-1) are the two we’ll add for exacta purposes.
Colonial Downs: Race 3: $40,000 Maiden Claiming (5 1/2 furlongs on turf, 2:41 p.m. ET)
#8 Goldbuster (3-1) ran okay in his debut against maiden special weight company at Colonial Downs earlier this month, finishing fifth by five lengths in a 5 1/2-furlong turf dash. Hot trainer Michael Stidham (a 24% winner at Colonial Downs this meet) wins at a 27% rate with horses descending from maiden special weight into maiden claiming company, so Goldbuster figures to vie for victory on the class drop.
#4 Rivzonaroll (2-1) can complete the exacta while adding Lasix for trainer Larry Rivelli, who wins at a 33% rate with horses racing on Lasix for the first time.
- $20 to win on #8 Goldbuster
- $5 Exacta: 8 with 4
Delaware Park: Race 7: Blue Hen S. (5 1/2 furlongs, 3:30 p.m. ET)
#6 Skylar’s Sister (6-1) unleashed a meaningful burst of acceleration in her debut at Laurel Park last month, gaining seven lengths in the final furlong alone to win a 5 1/2-furlong turf maiden special weight by a neck.
The closing fractions were respectable, and Skylar’s Sister might have won by more if she hadn’t run into traffic trouble down the homestretch. She’s switching to dirt for her stakes debut, but she’s adding Lasix (a 55% winning move for trainer Dale Capuano) and picking up hot jockey Jean Alvelo (a 20% winner at Delaware this year), so Skylar’s Sister looks ready to outrun her 6-1 morning line odds.
#4 Bound by Destiny (3-1) and #11 Tappin Josie (4-1) are logical choices to round out the exacta.
- $20 to win on #6 Skylar’s Sister
- $5 Exacta: 6 with 4,11 ($10)
Presque Isle Downs, Race 1: $3,535 Pick 5 carryover (1:30 p.m. ET)
Presque Isle Downs, Race 4: $1,013 Pick 5 carryover (2:51 p.m. ET)
Guess what? Presque Isle Downs has tossed up a pair of Pick 5 carryovers for Wednesday afternoon. The Early Pick 5 boasts a $3,535 prize pool, while the Late Pick 5 features a $1,013 carryover.
After analyzing the entries, we’ve identified a pair of possible singles (one in each sequence) to build tickets around:
Race 2: $20,000 Claiming (six furlongs on Tapeta): #3 San Costantino (8-5)
Conditioned by hot trainer Timothy Hamm (a 31% winner at Presque Isle this meet), San Costantino has been competing against tougher competition than he’ll encounter on Wednesday. The three-year-old gelding has made three previous starts at Presque Isle this year, finishing fourth, third, and fourth in a trio of $32,000 allowance optional claimers sprinting six furlongs.
These efforts produced improving Brisnet Speed ratings of 72, 74, and 77, stamping San Costantino as one of the fastest horses in Wednesday’s field. The class drop might be all he needs to visit the winner’s circle.
Race 7: $25,000 Starter Optional Claiming (six furlongs on Tapeta): #4 The Sinner Is You (7-5)
On paper, this six-furlong dash is shaping up as a two-horse battle between The Sinner Is You and #3 Petit Verdot (2-1). Both are conditioned by high-percentage trainers, both enter off victories over this track and distance, and both bring sharp Brisnet Speed ratings to the table.
Ultimately, we’ll give the edge to The Sinner Is You as a viable single. The six-year-old gelding has won seven of his last eight starts (all at Presque Isle Downs), and his lone defeat came when finishing third in the six-furlong Karl Boyes S. In his most recent run, The Sinner Is You overcame a troubled trip to rally and win a $6,250 starter allowance by 1 3/4 lengths over a next-out winner.
Three starts back, The Sinner Is You nabbed a $35,000 allowance optional claimer at Presque Isle over a next-out winner, so the $25,000 allowance optional claiming level should suit the son of Into Mischief just fine. Jockey Willie Martinez has been aboard for The Sinner Is You’s last five victories and retains the mount on Wednesday, cementing The Sinner Is You as a deserving favorite.