Keeler Johnson's picks and plays for July 20
Handicapper J. Keeler Johnson shares $75 worth of picks and plays for Tuesday, July 20 at Colonial Downs, Indiana Grand, and Presque Isle Downs, along with a pair of singles for Presque Isle’s $2,234 Pick 6 carryover.
Today’s special offers from TwinSpires include:
- Midweek Bet Back: Receive refunds on win bets (up to $10) if your horse finishes second in select races at Presque Isle Downs.
- 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.
Picks and plays
Since 2020, trainer Michael Stidham has a 2-1-0 record from four starts (50%) with debut two-year-olds at Colonial Downs, which includes one win from one start on the dirt. His first juvenile first-time starter of the 2021 meet — 7-2 shot Rambert — ran strongly to finish second in a five-furlong turf dash Monday. He was only beaten by the favorite and pulled eight lengths clear of the rest.
We’ll count on Stidham’s #3 Gina (9-5) to get the job done in her debut under colors Tuesday. A daughter of Maclean’s Music (who sires 18% winners from first-time starters), Gina was produced by the five-time Grade 1 winner Music Note, previously renowned as the dam of Dubai World Cup (G1) winner Mystic Guide.
Gina has put together a solid work tab in preparation for her debut, highlighted by a pair of bullet half-mile gate drills at Fair Hill Training Center.
We won’t get creative here. We’ll just place a large win bet on Gina and call it a day.
$30 to win on #3 Gina
This two-turn allowance for Indiana-breds is devoid of speed, which is why we’ll take a shot outside the box with #2 Clearing Waivers (8-1).
The four-year-old gelding seems like the only logical pacesetter on paper, considering he’s set or tracked the early pace in each of his last five starts.
Clearing Waivers is consistent. He has hit the board in his last nine starts, on both dirt and turf. He has won two of his last three runs on dirt, including a one-mile allowance at Indiana Grand.
I’m optimistic the son of Awesome Patriot can shake loose on an easy lead, then sprint home to give hot trainer Anthony Granitz a nice-priced winner.
#4 Hard Luck Justice (4-5), a stakes winner at Indiana Grand, can round out the exacta.
$20 to win on #2 Clearing Waivers
$10 exacta: 2 with 4
Speaking of races without any speed, the Tuesday opener at Presque Isle is another event seemingly destined to unfold at a pedestrian tempo. The race contains very little pace on paper, which figures to give #1 Sand Mountain (6-1) a significant advantage.
Sand Mountain has set the pace in four of his five starts, which is a benefit, since 47% of six-furlong sprints at Presque Isle are won in gate-to-wire fashion. Along the way, Sand Mountain has posted three victories and even nabbed a pair of $12,500 claimers on the Illinois circuit, with competitive Brisnet Speed ratings.
Sand Mountain’s only disappointing effort came in a $20,000 optional-claiming allowance at Arlington Park last month, when he broke through the starting gate before the race and faded when the real race was run. The drop to the $8,000 claiming level can send Sand Mountain right back to the winner’s circle for trainer Gerald Brooks, who has gone seven wins from 20 starts (35%) at Presque Isle this meet.
To take advantage of the Midweek Bet Back offer, we’ll place a $10 win bet on Sand Mountain. Then we’ll play him over Presque Isle veteran #6 Blue Sky’s Above (3-1) in the exacta.
$10 to win on #1 Sand Mountain
$5 exacta: 1 with 6
Ready to take another shot at the Presque Isle Downs Pick 6?
The 20-cent, jackpot-style wager features a Tuesday carryover of $2,234, after Monday’s sequence produced four winning tickets of $621.98.
Presque Isle’s Pick 6 offers bettors more value on a daily basis than many jackpot-style wagers. The overall takeout rate is just 15%, and 90% of the daily pool is returned to winning bettors, so you don’t necessarily have to construct a unique winning ticket to catch a respectable payoff.
Tuesday’s Pick 6 is a bit tougher than Monday’s version, with 53 entries and 392,040 possible outcomes, before scratches. Assemble the right combination of winners (including some longshots), and you might just catch the jackpot with a unique winning ticket.
Need help planning your play? We’ve identified a pair of singles to help you get started.
Race 3: #6 Song of Indy (5-2)
There isn’t much speed in this six-furlong dash for fillies and mares, which should suit Song of Indy.
The five-year-old mare routinely sets or stalks the pace, and while she has been beaten in both of her runs this season, there were extenuating circumstances. In her 2021 debut, she endured a troubled trip and still gained ground through the final furlong. In her second run, she was only beaten a half-length, after she dueled for the lead through fast fractions.
Both of these efforts came on turf, and Song of Indy is eligible to improve with a switch to the Tapeta track at Presque Isle, where she boasts a 6-3-1 record from 17 starts.
Remember, 47% of six-furlong sprints at Presque Isle are won in gate-to-wire fashion, so if Song of Indy shakes loose up front, she may prove impossible to catch.
Race 8: #8 Goodtime Artie (5-2)
Who is the fastest entrant in terms of Brisnet Speed ratings? That would be Goodtime Artie.
Whereas none of his rivals have earned a figure higher than 67, Goodtime Artie has put up figures of 75 and 68 in his last two starts, both over the Tapeta track at Turfway Park.
Runner-up in a $15,000 maiden claimer two starts back, Goodtime Artie should produce a strong effort in his Presque Isle debut. The son of We Miss Artie hasn’t run since March, but new trainer Matthew Kintz strikes at a 31% rate with horses who return from layoffs of 90 days or more.