Keeler Johnson's picks and plays for Oct. 14

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October 14th, 2021

Handicapper J. Keeler Johnson shares picks and plays for Thursday, Oct. 14 at Keeneland, Belmont Park, and Presque Isle Downs, including tickets for Keeneland’s $15,390 Super High 5 carryover.

Today’s special offers from TwinSpires include:

  • Keeneland Fall Meet Bet Back: Receive refunds on win bets (up to $10) if your horse finishes second or third in select races at Keeneland.
  • Midweek Bet Back: Receive refunds on win bets (up to $10) if your horse finishes second in any race at Presque Isle Downs.
  • $16,000 Hoosier Park Pick 4 Hit It and Split It: Make a winning early Pick 4 wager at Hoosier Park to win a share of $1,000. Offer applies to the early Pick 4 (Races 3-6) at Hoosier Park every Thursday from Aug. 19 through Dec. 2.

Picks and plays

Keeneland, Race 6: Maiden special weight (seven furlongs, 3:40 p.m. ET)

During the 2020 Keeneland fall meet, trainer Brad Cox compiled 10 wins from 20 starts (50%) with juveniles who had already run at least once. His record with runners in that category during the 2021 fall meet already stands at four wins from seven starts  (57%), which suggests Cox’s #2 Almanzo (5-2) will be dangerous in this seven-furlong sprint for two-year-olds.

A half-brother to Grade 1 winner American Gal, who placed in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies (G1) at age two, Almanzo ran OK in his debut, a six-furlong dash at Churchill Downs last month. After he settled behind fast fractions, the son of Tapit made a mid-race move but flattened out down the lane.

Cox’s 27% win rate with second-time starters far exceeds his typical success rate with debut runners, which stands at 12% this year. Assuming Almanzo improves as expected in his second run, he can visit the winner’s circle under jockey Florent Geroux.

The consistent #9 Ignitis (3-1) can complete the exacta.

$25 to win on #2 Almanzo
$5 exacta: 2 with 9
Total: $30

Belmont Park, Race 8: Allowance (one mile on turf, 4:21 p.m. ET)

#4 Windfall Profits (7-2) brings competitive Brisnet Speed ratings for Hall of Fame trainer Shug McGaughey.

A versatile four-year-old, who can set the pace or rally from behind, Windfall Profit suffered a slow start and a wide trip in a 1 1/16-mile allowance at Saratoga in August but still managed to rally and finish third, less than a length behind the winner.

Windfall Profits actually finished ahead of #2 Golden Plume (2-1), the morning-line favorite in Thursday’s heat, and I’m optimistic Windfall Profits can maintain her supremacy in their second meeting.

Her 7-2 morning line odds are fair in this competitive field, so let’s bet Windfall Profits to win and play her over Golden Plume and #3 Messidor (5-2) in the exacta.

$20 to win on #4 Windfall Profits
$5 exacta: 4 with 2,3 ($10)
Total: $30

Presque Isle Downs, Race 3: Allowance (one mile and 70 yards, 5:35 p.m. ET)

#1 Extrasexybigdaddee (8-5) and #3 McSteamy (3-1) came in second and third at this track and class level Sept. 23, and I’m optimistic they can improve to run first and second Thursday.

Extrasexybigdaddee boasts plenty of tactical speed and hasn’t missed the exacta in four starts on Tapeta, including a runner-up effort in Turfway Park’s Rushaway S. during the spring. McSteamy has proven to be a competitive allowance performer at Presque Isle and has hit the board in three of his last four starts.

Let’s bet Extrasexybigdaddee over McSteamy in a cold exacta.

$20 exacta: 1 with 3

Carryover watch

Keeneland, Race 10: $15,390 Super High 5 carryover (5:48 p.m. ET)

On Wednesday at Keeneland, no one managed to assemble a winning Super High 5 ticket for the second straight card. This means Thursday’s final race will boast a $15,390 Super High 5 carryover.

But this non-jackpot wager won’t be easy. The minimum bet amount is $1, which means tickets can rapidly grow expensive.

And the Thursday finale is a $15,000 maiden claimer for fillies and mares, in a six-furlong sprint on the main track, which is shaping up as a recipe for chaotic results.

The field features 11 horses, including a couple first-time starters, but only two of the experienced runners have competed at the $15,000 claiming level and none have done so recently. Instead, all the entrants are either ascending or descending the class ladder. Many will cut back in distance, or switch form turf to dirt. The past performances are pretty much a muddy mess.

Our advice is to play on a small budget and avoid overspending, since luck will play no small part in a winning ticket.

To that end, we’ll key #10 Bit O Bodie (5-1) on top. The John Ennis trainee has excellent tactical speed and posted a 71 Brisnet Speed rating when she finished second in a five-furlong turf maiden special weight at Belterra Park during the summer. Bit O Bodie has also run well on dirt, so if you excuse her troubled, eighth-place finish in a Sept. 9 Belterra maiden sprint, Bit O Bodie’s form lines are respectable.

Underneath, we’ll give a long look toward #7 Catalan (7-2), who will drop in class, as she has competed exclusively in maiden special weight sprints. #5 Cha Cha Mission (4-1), beaten just a head when second in a $15,000 maiden claimer over the Turfway Tapeta track last winner, is another logical candidate for inclusion.

Beyond those three? Your guess is as good as ours. #4 Winze (9-2) owns competitive Brisnet Speed ratings, but she has primarily competed in routes and was soundly beaten in her only sprint run. The unraced #6 Magic Lamp (12-1) offers some potential for trainer Andrew McKeever, but McKeever’s 17% strike rate with first-time starters drops to 7% with those who debut in maiden claimers. #11 Floris (8-1) has run well in turf sprints but hasn’t finished within 20 lengths of victory in two starts against tougher company on dirt.

We’ll use these three and a few others underneath our preferred trio in a pair of Super High 5 tickets.

$1 Super High 5: 10 with 5,7 with 5,7 with 4,6 with 2,3,4,6,9,11 ($20)
$1 Super High 5: 10 with 5,7 with 4,6 with 5,7 with 2,3,4,6,9,11 ($20)
Total: $40

Good luck!