Keeler Johnson's picks and plays for May 31

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May 31st, 2022

Handicapper J. Keeler Johnson shares picks and plays for Tuesday, May 31 at Presque Isle Downs and Horseshoe Indianapolis, along with a ticket for the mandatory-payout $17,212 Super High 5 carryover at Fort Erie.

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 Parx Racing.
  • Trifecta Tuesday: Receive a 15% bonus (up to $25 per day) on winning trifecta tickets.

Picks and Plays

Presque Isle Downs: Race 1: $8,000 Claiming (six furlongs on Tapeta, 1:30 p.m. ET)

#2 Lawn Dart (8-5) boasts a solid 5-for-13 record at Presque Isle. The six-year-old mare returned to this oval on May 17 with a pace-tracking victory in a $5,000 claimer, for which she earned a solid 78 Brisnet Speed rating.

Lawn Dart was claimed out of that win by trainer Eduardo Rojas, a 40% winner this meet who strikes at a solid 20% rate with new claiming acquisitions. Even while stepping up the class ladder, Lawn Dart appears ready to vie for victory under hot jockey Pablo Morales.

The class-dropping #4 Thisaintjumpstreet (5-2) can battle with #6 Yes It’s Erie (3-1) to complete the exacta.

  • $15 Exacta: 2 with 4,6 ($30)

Horseshoe Indianapolis: Race 1: Maiden Special Weight (six furlongs, 2:30 p.m. ET)

#1 Malibu S S (4-1) showed promise in his debut sprinting six furlongs at Fair Grounds, rallying to finish third with an 82 Brisnet Speed rating that is tied for the highest figure in Tuesday’s field. He was subsequently beaten to eighth place in a one-mile maiden special weight at Churchill Downs, but that race featured a big field on Kentucky Derby day, and the distance may have been too far for Malibu S S.

Cutting back in trip and squaring off against a smaller field at Indiana Grand can help send Malibu S S to the winner’s circle for hot trainer Tom Amoss, who has gone 9-for-21 (43%) to start the meet. Throw in hot jockey Edgar Morales (a 27% winner this meet), and Malibu S S is an appealing win play.

We’ll look for #4 Go Emi (3-1), #5 Barbarian (5-2), and #6 Home Sick (9-5) to complete a trifecta capitalizing on the Trifecta Tuesday promotion.

  • $18 to win on #1 Malibu S S
  • $2 Trifecta: 1 with 4,5,6 with 4,5,6 ($12)
    Total: $30

Presque Isle Downs: Race 4: Maiden Special Weight (4 1/2 furlongs, 2:51 p.m. ET)

High-percentage trainer Larry Rivelli is off to a terrific start at Presque Isle this meet, going 3-for-3 so far. He can keep his momentum going with the unraced two-year-old filly #2 Back to Ohio (3-1).

A daughter of juvenile champion Midshipman (who sires a respectable 13% winners from first-time starters), Back to Ohio has shown flashes of speed in the mornings, most notably clocking a bullet three furlongs in :36 1/5 from the Hawthorne starting gate. Rivelli wins at a 27% rate with runners debuting in maiden special weights, and jockey Jareth Loveberry (3-for-4 to start the meet) is named to ride, so all signs suggest Back to Ohio is sitting on a winning run.

We’ll bet Back to Ohio to win and key her over #4 Motown Mischief (6-1) in the exacta.

  • $20 to win on #2 Back to Ohio
  • $10 Exacta: 2 with 4
    Total: $30

Carryover Watch

Fort Erie, Race 10: $17,212 Super High 5 mandatory payout (8:17 p.m. ET)

The 2022 race meet at Fort Erie kicks off on Tuesday with a 10-race card highlighted by the five-furlong Sprint Into Summer Cup S. Bettors will be glad to hear there’s a CAN$ 21,789 (US$ 17,212) Super High 5 carryover left over from 2021 slated for mandatory dispersal.

Winning a share of the carryover won’t be easy. Many of the entrants are unproven on dirt, and there are a couple of first-time starters in the mix.

For example, what do we do with morning line favorite #4 Invisible Friend (5-2)? The three-year-old gelding has hit the board in four of his five starts over the synthetic Tapeta track at Woodbine, but has never competed on dirt. The surface switch is a meaningful question mark, though the fact trainer John Simms wins at a 32% rate with horses transitioning from synthetic to dirt is a positive sign. Simms also ranked among the leading trainers at Fort Erie last year, winning at a 26% rate.

#2 Maximum Danger (4-1) is another tricky contender to analyze. He’s run a bit faster on the Brisnet Speed rating scale than Invisible Friend and kicked off 2022 on a positive note, finishing second in a $15,000-$14,000 maiden claimer sprinting six furlongs at Woodbine. But like Invisible Friend, Maximum Danger has yet to race on dirt.

If you want to support a horse with proven dirt form, #10 M V Speed (6-1) might be the one. He’s cracked the trifecta in four of his five starts over the dirt track at Tampa Bay Downs, including a trio of sprints. His Brisnet Speed ratings are respectable, and trainer Richard Davis wins at an excellent 20% rate with shippers.

#6 Skills Test (5-1) can’t be dismissed either. He misfired when finishing last in a $40,000 maiden optional claimer at Woodbine earlier this month, but two starts back, he ran second in a $15,000 claimer over the same track, earning a solid 75 Brisnet Speed rating. Jockey Christopher Husbands is named to ride, and that’s significant since Husbands won more races than any other jockey at Fort Erie last year.

Let’s key Invisible Friend and M V Speed on top of our tickets, emphasize Maximum Danger and Skills Test underneath, and hit the “ALL” button for either fourth or fifth place (depending on the ticket):

  • 20-cent Super High 5: 4,10 with 2,4,6,10 with 2,4,6,10 with 2,4,6,10 with ALL ($19.20)
  • 20-cent Super High 5: 4,10 with 2,4,6,10 with 2,4,6,10 with ALL with 2,4,6,10 ($19.20)
    Total: $38.40

Good luck!