Keeler Johnson's picks and plays for May 23

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May 23rd, 2022

Handicapper J. Keeler Johnson shares picks and plays for Monday, May 23 at Presque Isle Downs and Horseshoe Indianapolis, including a trio of exactas.

Picks and Plays

Horseshoe Indianapolis: Race 2: $15,000 Claiming (six furlongs, 3:01 p.m. ET)

#6 Varton (8-1) boasts a respectable 13-2-2-4 record at Horseshoe Indianapolis and competed well against tougher competition at this track last year, even posting a gate-to-wire victory in a $25,000 claimer.

Varton struggled in her first start of the 2022 Horseshoe Indianapolis meet, finishing sixth in a 5 1/2-furlong allowance one month ago, but it’s encouraging to note she set the early pace. Dropping down the class ladder can help Varton bounce back with a competitive effort under hot jockey Joseph Ramos, who has gone 14-for-64 (22%) to start the meet.

In addition to a win bet on Varton, we’ll play her on top of an exacta using #2 Gift Wrapped (3-1) and #4 Queen Bridget (2-1) for second place.

  • $20 to win on #6 Varton
  • $5 Exacta: 6 with 2,4 ($10)
    Total: $30

Presque Isle Downs: Race 6: Maiden Special Weight (5 1/2 furlongs on Tapeta, 3:45 p.m. ET)

This field of maidens doesn’t appear overly tough on paper, so we’ll take a shot with the first-time starter #2 Hidden Medal (12-1). The daughter of Medallist was working fast at Presque Isle last summer (most notably clocking a bullet half-mile in :46 4/5), and she’s turned in half a dozen timed workouts this year while preparing for her belated debut.

Trainer Lance Stokes has gone 3-for-15 (20%) saddling first-time starters at Presque Isle since 2019, and Medallist sires a respectable 15% debut winners. At 12-1, Hidden Medal is worth betting to win and keying over #1 Hidden Springs (3-1) and #3 Slender Betsy (4-1) in a small exacta.

  • $20 to win on #2 Hidden Medal
  • $5 Exacta: 2 with 1,3 ($10)
    Total: $30

Presque Isle Downs: Race 7: Tom Ridge S. (six furlongs on Tapeta, 4:12 p.m. ET)

High-percentage trainer Larry Rivelli appears poised for a 1-2 finish with #7 One Timer (8-5) and #6 Nobals (2-1). One Timer is the slim morning line favorite after winning the Victoria S. and Speakeasy S. last season, in addition to finishing ninth (beaten only two lengths) in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf Sprint (G2).

But One Timer hasn’t run since November, while Nobals is 3-for-3 this season, rattling off victories in the Turfway Prevue S., Animal Kingdom S., and Woodstock S. on Tapeta. Nobals also boasts proven form at Presque Isle, winning his debut over this track last summer before finishing second by a nose in the Fitz Dixon, Jr. Memorial Juvenile S.

We’ll bet Nobals over One Timer in a cold exacta.

  • $25 Exacta: 6 with 6

Good luck!