Keeler Johnson's picks and plays for Aug. 31

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August 31st, 2021

Handicapper J. Keeler Johnson shares picks and plays for Tuesday, Aug. 31 at Colonial Downs and Assiniboia Downs, along with a ~$20 ticket for the Pick 6 carryover at Presque Isle Downs.

Today’s special offers from TwinSpires include:

  • Colonial Downs Bet Back: Receive refunds on win bets (up to $10) if your horse finishes second or third in any race at Colonial Downs.
  • Midweek Bet Back: Receive refunds on win bets (up to $10) if your horse finishes second in select races at Parx Racing.
  • Virginia Derby Day and Virginia-Bred Stakes Day $10,000 Jackpot: Place $20+ win wagers in stakes races on Tuesday and Wednesday at Colonial Downs for a chance to win shares of jackpot bonus pools totaling $10,000.
  • Virginia Derby Trifecta Insurance: Receive refunds on trifecta bets (up to $12) if you would have cashed the exacta, but missed out on your trifecta.
  • Build Your Assiniboia Closing Day Bankroll: For every day you wager at least $100 in win, place, or win-place wagers at Assiniboia Downs from Aug. 30 through Sep. 14, receive a $5 bonus to wager on closing day at Assiniboia (Sep. 15). Wager $100 all eight racing days and receive an additional $100. For every $1,000 wagered from Aug. 30 through Sep. 14, receive an additional $50 bonus.

Picks and plays

Colonial Downs, Race 7: Kitten’s Joy S. (1 1/16 miles on turf, 4:33 p.m. ET)

Did you happen to see the breathtaking maiden win posted by #4 Tiz the Bomb (3-1) at Ellis Park last month? In his second start, the Ken McPeek trainee dashed to the lead in a one-mile maiden special weight and widened his advantage at every call to dominate by 14 1/4 lengths.

Tiz the Bomb was never asked for his best, but still managed to produce a 80 Brisnet Speed rating. He will switch to turf for the Kitten’s Joy, but that shouldn’t be an obstacle since his sire, Hit It a Bomb, won the 2015 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf (G1).

To take advantage of the Colonial Downs Bet Back and Virginia Derby Day & Virginia-Bred Stakes Day promotions, we’ll place a $20 win bet on Tiz the Bomb. Then we’ll play him on top of a $12 trifecta, to capitalize on the Virginia Derby Trifecta Insurance offer.

$20 to win on #4 Tiz the Bomb
$2 trifecta: 4 with 3,5,6 with 3,5,6 ($12)
Total: $32

Colonial Downs, Race 8: Rosie’s S. (5 1/2 furlongs on turf, 5:01 p.m. ET)

The morning-line favorites in this turf dash for juveniles are #7 Tejano Twist (5-2) and #1 Big Boss Ben (3-1), a pair of last-out maiden winners.

But might the stakes-experienced #4 Trust Our Journey (4-1) be the better play?

Trust Our Journey won his debut at Gulfstream Park in frontrunning fashion and has since competed in three straight stakes. He finished third in the Tremont S., seventh in the Sanford S. (G3), and second in the Tyro S. The latter marked Trust Our Journey’s turf debut, and the son of American Pharoah handled the surface just fine and posted a 79 Brisnet Speed rating.

Trust Our Journey brings a bevy of triple-digit Brisnet E1 and E2 Pace ratings, so he looks like the “speedy of the speed” on paper.

We’ll bet Trust Our Journey to win and key him on top of a $12 trifecta, to capitalize on all the Colonial Downs-related special offers from TwinSpires.

$20 to win on #4 Trust Our Journey
$2 trifecta: 4 with 1,5,7 with 1,5,7 ($12)
Total: $32

Assiniboia Downs, Race 4: $15,000 maiden claiming (five furlongs, 10:05 p.m. ET)

#4 Big Deal Lucille (7-2) finished just a head behind morning-line favorite #7 Don’t Blame Coco (5-2) when she came home third at this track and approximate class level Aug. 16.

But that was Don’t Blame Coco's second start, while Big Deal Lucille made her debut run and didn’t have the best of luck. She broke inward at the start and rallied gamely down the stretch.

With a clean trip in her second run under colors, Big Deal Lucille can turn the tables on Don’t Blame Coco at a nice price.

Big Deal Lucille is trained by Devon Gittens, who strikes at a 50% win rate with second-time starters.

Let’s bet Big Deal Lucille to win (to pursue the Build Your Assiniboia Closing Day Bankroll promotion), then play her over Don’t Blame Coco in a cold exacta.

$20 to win on #4 Big Deal Lucille
$5 exacta: 4 with 7
Total: $25

Carryover watch

Presque Isle Downs, Race 3: $317 Pick 6 jackpot (5:35 p.m. ET)

Let’s play Tuesday’s Presque Isle Pick 6 on a ~$20 budget.

Race 3: $16,000 claiming (one mile)

#1 Cuz (5-1) has finished second in his last two starts, against $25,000 and $20,000 claiming company at Presque Isle.

The drop in class should help his chances, but since Cuz will stretch out from six furlongs to a mile, we’ll back him up with #3 Mission Brief (2-1) and #7 Goodie Goomer (7-2).

Race 4: $15,000 maiden claiming (six furlongs)

#1 Enjoy the Music (8-5) has thrown down Brisnet Speed ratings of 72 and 73 with placings in his last two starts against $15,000 maiden claiming company at Presque Isle.

The cut back from two-turn routes to a six-furlong sprint can help him secure a breakthrough victory.

Race 5: $5,000 claiming (one mile and 70 yards)

You can make a case for several fillies and mares in this low-level claimer, so we’ll spread deep, with #1 Hoxie (5-2), #2 Senorita Sparkplug (3-1), #3 No Interest (8-1), and #5 Lil Hooh’s Hooh (9-5).

Race 6: $12,500 claiming (six furlongs)

#8 He’s On the Fly (2-1) has placed in his last two starts at this track, distance, and class level, and earned competitive Brisnet Speed ratings. But #4 Golovkin (5-2) finished ahead of He’s On the Fly two starts back, and #1 The Quartermaster (3-1) was right behind them.

Throw in recent $17,500 maiden claiming winner #2 Wild Enough (8-1) from the high-percentage barn of Michael Pappada, and we may have to spread deep to survive this leg.

Race 7: Allowance/optional claiming (six furlongs)

Trainer Timothy Hamm (a 45% winner at Presque Isle) holds a strong hand, with #2 Diamond Dust (10-1) and #7 Ahimelech (6-1), both winners at this course and class level.

Ahimelech looks the most dangerous. While he misfired in the Tom Ridge S. last time out, he previously won four straight races.

We’ll take a stand with these two.

Race 8: $7,500 maiden claiming (six furlongs)

#11 Hey Sach (5-2) has placed twice over this course and earned Brisnet Speed ratings of 68 and 60.

None of her rivals have run faster, so with jockey Pablo Morales (a 34% winner at Presque Isle) in the saddle, Hey Sach looms as a logical single to end the Pick 6.

20-cent Pick 6: 1,3,7 with 1 with 1,2,3,5 with 1,2,4,8 with 2,7 with 11 ($19.20)

Good luck!