Keeler Johnson's picks and plays for Oct. 4

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October 4th, 2021

Handicapper J. Keeler Johnson shares picks and plays for Monday, Oct. 4 at Indiana Grand, Thistledown, and Presque Isle Downs, along with a horse to single in Zia Park’s $640 Pick 5 carryover.

Picks and plays

Indiana Grand, Race 4: Maiden special weight (five furlongs, 3:58 p.m. ET)

Who is the fastest filly entered in this dash for Indiana-bred juveniles?

That would be #1 Cactus Flower (3-1), who posted a 58 Brisnet Speed rating when she finished third in her debut Sept. 8. The race was a 5 1/2-furlong sprint, open to all two-year-old fillies (not just those bred in Indiana), so the drop into the state-bred ranks Monday might be what Cactus Flower needs to visit the winner’s circle.

#2 Last Hurrah (2-1), a speedy pacesetter who has placed twice against Indiana-breds, can round out a cold exacta.

$20 to win on #1 Cactus Flower
$10 exacta: 1 with 2
Total: $30

Thistledown, Race 8: Maiden special weight (five furlongs, 4:20 p.m. ET)

#6 Z U in My Dreams (3-1) could only finish third in her debut for a $12,500 claiming tag over the synthetic track at Arlington Park, but the daughter of Congrats fared much better on dirt, in a six-furlong maiden special weight at Thistledown, where she dueled for the lead through fast fractions and weakened slightly to finish second.

Z U in My Dreams is eligible to take a step forward on the cut back to five furlongs, which sets the stage for victory.

#5 Dazzling Mist (5-2), a runner-up at this track, distance, and class level in June, is a logical choice to complete the exacta, with the addition of Lasix for her second start.

$20 to win on #6 Z U in My Dreams
$5 exacta: 6 with 5
Total: $25

Presque Isle Downs, Race 5: Presque Isle Debutante S. (6 1/2 furlongs on Tapeta, 6:25 p.m. ET)

#7 Royal Engagement (3-1) has the credentials to win this sprint for juvenile fillies.

The daughter of Palace Malice won her debut over this track back in July, then placed in the My Dear S. and Catch a Glimpse S. at Woodbine, before she faded to ninth in the Natalma S. (G1).

The Natalma was held over at mile on a damp turf course, which may have stretched the limits of Royal Engagement’s stamina. The drop in class and distance for the Presque Isle Debutante should make Royal Engagement dangerous for hot trainer Timothy Hamm, a 37% winner at Presque Isle this meet.

#1 Howdyoumakeurmoney (9-2) and #3 Battle Charge (6-1) can battle for a place in the exacta.

$20 to win on #7 Royal Engagement
$5 exacta: 7 with 1,3 ($10)
Total: $30

Carryover watch

Zia Park, Race 7: $640 Pick 5 carryover (4:42 p.m. ET)

If you’re in the mood to kick off the new racing week with a non-jackpot carryover, you’ll have to turn your attention to Zia Park in New Mexico. The only suitable offering, at least for fans of U.S. Thoroughbred racing, is the $640 Pick 5 carryover generated by a Sunday afternoon of upsets at Zia.

The pot isn’t huge, but the sequence for the 50-cent wager looks competitive, with 49 entries (9.8 per race) before scratches. Every race features a minimum of nine entries, so the opportunity for a solid payday definitely exists, and the Pick 5 pool should be larger on a quiet Monday than a busy Sunday.

But since the carryover isn’t huge, it’s not a bad idea to play the Zia Park Pick 5 on a modest budget, just in case chalky results unfold and a bevy of bettors cash winning tickets.

With that in mind, we’ve gone through the sequence and identified a short-priced single to build a ticket around.

Race 9: #6 Tucum (2-1)

Nine New Mexico-bred geldings will face the start in this six-furlong allowance for non-winners of two races, but it is going to be tough for anyone to take down Tucum, who looms as a logical favorite on the morning line.

To be ridden by Enrique Gomez (a 22% winner at the Zia meet), Tucum is a speedy frontrunner who has set the pace in his last three starts. His best effort came in a 5 1/2-furlong maiden special weight for New Mexico-breds, which Tucum dominated by 10 3/4 lengths, over next-out maiden winner #7 Watford (10-1).

This effort produced a 78 Brisnet Speed rating, and Tucum posted an 80 when he tired to finish sixth in the seven-furlong O.D. McDonald S. against New Mexico-breds. 

The drop in class and distance for Monday’s allowance should make Tucum formidable, especially when you consider 44% of six-furlong sprints at Zia Park are won in gate-to-wire fashion.

Good luck!