Homeracing

Keeler Johnson's picks and plays for Oct. 20

Profile Picture: J. Keeler Johnson

October 20th, 2021

Handicapper J. Keeler Johnson shares $75 worth of picks and plays for Wednesday, Oct. 20 at Keeneland and Presque Isle Downs, along with horses to play in a pair of five-figure carryovers at Keeneland.

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 Indiana Grand and Presque Isle Downs.
  • 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.
  • Rest of the World Bet Back: Receive refunds on win bets (up to $10) if your horse finishes second in any race at Happy Valley (Hong Kong).

Picks and plays

Keeneland, Race 4: Allowance (5 1/2 furlongs on turf, 2:36 p.m. ET)

#3 Super Design (7-2) ran a big race in his debut, a 6 1/2-furlong sprint at Kentucky Downs last month. The Wesley Ward trainee settled in fifth place early, then rallied strongly to score by 2 1/2 lengths, for a 93 Brisnet Speed rating.

This effort was flattered when the third-place finisher returned to win his next start. A similar performance from Super Design should be sufficient to reach the winner’s circle at Keeneland, where Ward has compiled 7-3-3 record from 17 starts (41%) this meet.

#7 Cheeky Chaps (2-1), who came in third in an allowance at Kentucky Downs, can complete the exacta. But our first play will be a $10 win bet on Super Design, to capitalize on the Keeneland Fall Meet Bet Back promotion.

$10 to win on #3 Super Design
$10 exacta: 3 with 7
Total: $20

Keeneland, Race 7: $62,500 optional-claiming allowance (seven furlongs, 4:12 p.m. ET)

#1 Tipsy Gal (4-1) hasn’t cracked the trifecta in her last three starts, but there have been extenuating circumstances.

Two of those runs came against stakes company — including a deep renewal of the Winning Colors S. (G3) — and the other was a $62,500 optional-claiming allowance at Churchill Downs, in which Tipsy Gal suffered a troubled start and misfired over a sloppy track.

Four starts back, Tipsy Gal obliterated a $17,500 optional-claiming allowance at Fair Grounds by 8 1/2 lengths, for a 91 Brisnet Speed rating.

A return to that level of form can place Tipsy Gal in the hunt for victory, against logical, morning-line favorite #2 Movie Moxy (8-5).

$20 to win on #1 Tipsy Gal
$5 exacta: 1 with 2
Total: $25

Presque Isle Downs, Race 8: $25,000 optional-claiming allowance (six furlongs on Tapeta, 7:40 p.m. ET)

#1 Rio Abajo (5-2) is the morning-line favorite, after he finished first and third in his last two starts against $6,250 starter allowance company at Presque Isle. But in his last effort at Wednesday’s class level, Rio Abajo was defeated by #7 Where You Was (3-1), who rallied gamely from midfield to take top honors.

There is a fair amount of pace in Wednesday’s field, which should help Where You Was maintain his supremacy over Rio Abajo.

But we can’t overlook fellow stretch runner #5 Samedi Night (5-1), who finished ahead of Where You Was in a $35,000 optional-claiming allowance at Presque Isle earlier this month. Samedi Night also defeated Where You Was in an identical race at Presque Isle last fall and has finished ahead of Where You Was in their last three meetings.

For the Midweek Bet Back promotion, we’ll place a $10 win bet on Samedi Night, but we’ll also box him in the exacta, with Where You Was, and hope they run first and second.

$10 to win on #5 Samedi Night
$5 exacta box: 5,7 ($10)
Total: $30

Carryover watch

Keeneland, Race 3: $19,647 Pick 6 carryover (2:04 p.m. ET)

Fans of multi-race wagers are in for a treat Wednesday. The $1 Pick 6 at Keeneland boasts a $19,647 carryover, which sets the stage for a lucrative payday.

Here are a couple runners to consider as singles across the sequence.

Race 5: #2 Fan the Fire (2-1)

There are no certainties in racing, but Fan the Fire has a better-than-average chance to win this 6 1/2-furlong sprint for juveniles.

The son of Hard Spun finished second and third in his first two starts, against maiden special weight company at Saratoga, including an event won by next-out Iroquois S. (G3) winner Major General.

Fan the Fire faltered when he tried turf in the Kentucky Downs Juvenile Mile last month, but a return to dirt can trigger a rebound from the Mike Maker trainee.

Throw in the presence of jockey Tyler Gaffalione (a 29% winner at Keeneland this fall), and Fan the Fire looks like a logical single.

Race 6: #1 Daddy Is a Legend (7-5)

After she finished third in the Just a Game S. (G1), fifth in the Fourstardave H. (G1), and eighth in the First Lady S. (G1), Daddy Is a Legend figures to relish the drop in class for this 1 1/16-mile grass allowance.

The daughter of Scat Daddy boasts three wins over the Keeneland turf, including a couple 1 1/16-mile allowance victories.

Daddy Is a Legend encountered trouble at the start of the First Lady and was compromised by a modest pace. There is a fair amount of speed in Wednesday’s field, so with a little better racing luck, Daddy Is a Legend can cruise to a short-priced victory under Gaffalione.

Keeneland, Race 8: $43,203 Super High 5 carryover (4:44 p.m. ET)

Keeneland also has $43,203 Super High 5 carryover up for grabs in Race 8, a maiden special weight for juvenile fillies at 1 1/16 miles on turf.

Handicapping in advance of race-day changes is tricky, since three of the 15 entrants are also-eligibles, including co-favorite #15 Azamana Empire (5-2). Until we see if Azamana Empire draws in, it’s hard to plan tickets for the $1 wager.

But regardless of how the final field comes together, #7 Jaccaci (8-1) is a midrange longshot worth considering. The Kenny McPeek trainee produced an encouraging effort in her debut, a 6 1/2-furlong sprint over the Churchill Downs main track Oct. 1, when she rallied belatedly to finish fourth, four lengths behind the winner.

As a daughter of Gormley (who has sired 17% winners on turf), Jaccaci is eligible to improve on the switch to grass.

Throw in the fact McPeek wins at a 17% rate with second-time starters (well above his 7% strike rate with debut runners since 2019), and Jaccaci might even be worth playing on top.

Good luck!

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