Keeler Johnson's picks and plays for Oct. 7

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October 7th, 2021

Handicapper J. Keeler Johnson shares picks and plays for Thursday, Oct. 7 at Belmont Park, Thistledown, and Presque Isle Downs, plus a $20 ticket for the $2,178 Pick 5 carryover at Belterra Park.

Today’s special offers from TwinSpires include:

  • Midweek Bet Back: Receive refunds on win bets (up to $10) if your horse finishes second in any race at Thistledown.
  • $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

Belmont Park, Race 1: Maiden special weight (six furlongs on turf, 12:35 p.m. ET)

The first-time starters #4 Gianni Lambo (6-5) and #2 Emboite (9-5) are logical favorites for trainer Todd Pletcher.

Both have the pedigree to win from an early age on grass, but Pletcher is winless in 18 starts with debut juveniles in turf sprints at Belmont since 2016.

The experienced #1 Snow Candy (3-1) is a nice-priced alternative for trainer Thomas Morley, who has compiled an 7-3-1 record from 16 starts (44%) at Belmont this fall.

Snow Candy hasn’t shown much in his first two starts. He suffered a troubled start when he finished seventh in his debut over the Saratoga lawn, then came home fourth on the switch to the Saratoga main track.

But Snow Candy faced quality competition (including future stakes winners Red Danger and Dakota Gold), and he is eligible to fire a stronger shot with a clean trip in his second grass run.

Let’s bet Snow Candy to win and key him over the Pletcher trainees in the exacta.

$20 to win on #1 Snow Candy
$5 exacta: 1 with 2,4 ($10)
Total: $30

Thistledown, Race 7: Scarlet and Gray H. (six furlongs, 3:50 p.m. ET)

#3 Amadevil (1-1) is undefeated in four starts, all against Ohio-breds at Thistledown. Last month, the daughter of Dominus shredded older rivals in the six-furlong Michael G. Mackey Memorial Angenora S., where she dueled the Grade 1-placed Esplanande into submission and drew off to win by 6 3/4 lengths.

Amadevil looms as a Brisnet Speed rating standout, against just four Ohio-bred rivals in the Scarlet and Gray, so don’t be surprised if she starts as an odds-on favorite for hot trainer David Wolochuk, a 43% winner this meet.

Since a win bet won’t pay much, we’ll bet Amadevil on top of a cold exacta, with the consistent sprinter #1 Miss Mischievous (10-1) for second place.

$30 exacta: 3 with 1

Presque Isle Downs, Race 3: Maiden special weight (one mile, 5:35 p.m. ET)

#5 Royal Court (7-2) ran well in his debut, a five-furlong sprint at Presque Isle during the summer, when he rallied to finish second, behind next-out stakes winner Nobals.

Although Royal Court subsequently finished seventh in a one-mile and 70-yard event at Woodbine, he was only beaten 2 1/2 lengths and gained meaningful ground down the homestretch.

Royal Court will add blinkers for his return to Presque Isle, where the competition figures to be easier. The 79 Brisnet Speed rating he earned at Woodbine is the best figure in Thursday’s field by a clear margin, which stamps Royal Court as a logical win threat for trainer Eoin Harty, who has a 1-4-1 record from nine starts with juveniles at Presque Isle this meet.

We’ll place a large win bet on Royal Court and call it a day.

$30 to win on #5 Royal Court

Carryover watch

Belterra Park, Race 4: $2,178 Pick 5 carryover (2:05 p.m. ET)

If you’re keen to chase a non-jackpot carryover, let’s take a race-by-race look at the prize pool up for grabs in the 50-cent Pick 5 at Belterra Park.

Race 4: $12,500 maiden claiming (six furlongs)

#4 Miracle Strike (3-1) fell a neck short of victory in her debut, a 5 1/2-furlong sprint at this track and class level last month.

She’ll be tough to beat in her second start for trainer Cirilo Gorostieta (a 34% winner at Belterra this meet), though #3 Wildwood Flash (7-2) — who has faced tougher company at Saratoga — is worth including as backup.

Race 5: $5,000 claiming (six furlongs)

#7 Platinum Gale (7-2) was beaten less than a length when she finished second at this track, distance, and class level Sept. 21 and earned a solid 75 Brisnet Speed rating.

But third-place finisher #2 Kitty’s Promise (5-2) can use her frontrunning speed to turn the tables in Thursday’s largely paceless field.

Race 6: $5,000 maiden claiming (one mile and 70 yards)

#2 Musty Red (2-1) ran strongly under these conditions Sept. 23. In his first start off a claim by trainer Norman Cash (a 42% winner this meet), Musty Red carved out the pace and finished second, for a sharp 63 Brisnet Speed rating.

A repeat will make Musty Red tough to catch.

Race 7: $5,000 claiming (one mile and 70 yards)

#3 Against the Line (7-2) and #1 It’s Game Time (9-2) were separated by a half-length when first and third in a $5,000 claimer over this track and distance Sept. 16. But #4 Lemon Blitz (5-2), #5 Warrior’s Dream (6-1), and #6 Zacapa Run (3-1) all have the Brisnet Speed ratings and form lines to challenge.

Race 8: Maiden special weight (six furlongs)

Coupled entrymates #1A Leroyisalagniaeppe (2-1) and #1 Howie’s Angel (2-1) finished second and third at this track, distance, and class level Sept. 9.

They’re a formidable duo, though we’ll also include #3 Spurs Addiction (9-2), the runner-up in a pair of six-furlong maiden sprints at Belterra during the summer of 2020.

50-cent Pick 5: 3,4 with 2,7 with 2 with 1,3,4,5,6 with 1,3 ($20)

Good luck!