Keeler Johnson's picks and plays for Sept. 14

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September 14th, 2021

Handicapper J. Keeler Johnson shares picks and plays for Tuesday, Sept. 13 at Presque Isle Downs, Fort Erie, and Assiniboia Downs, along with singles for Canterbury Park’s $5,333 Pick 6 carryover.

Today’s special offers from TwinSpires include:

  • Build Your Assiniboia Closing Day Bankroll: For every day you wager at least $100 in win, place, or win-place wagers at Assiniboia Downs from Aug. 30 through Sept. 14, receive a $5 bonus to wager on closing day at Assiniboia (Sept. 15). Wager $100 all eight racing days and receive an additional $100. For every $1,000 wagered from Aug. 30 through Sept. 14, receive an additional $50 bonus.
  • Midweek Bet Back: Receive refunds on win bets (up to $10) if your horse finishes second in any race at Fort Erie.

Picks and plays

Presque Isle Downs, Race 1: Maiden special weight (one mile and 70 yards on Tapeta, 4:45 p.m. ET)

There isn’t much speed in this two-turn event for fillies and mares, which opens the door for #2 Clearly Smashing (7-2) to shake loose up front and spring a mild surprise.

Clearly Smashing enters off a couple pacesetting efforts sprinting six furlongs at Presque Isle. On July 6, she wired a $15,000 maiden claimer by 3 1/4 lengths, though she was later disqualified and placed last because of a positive drug test. Clearly Smashing then contested a $32,000 optional-claiming allowance at Presque Isle, where she set quick fractions and weakened to finish fourth, 4 3/4 lengths behind the winner.

The drop back down to the maiden ranks can help Clearly Smashing secure her first official victory.

We’ll bet her to win and key her on top of an exacta, with #4 Aldina (9-5) — seemingly the only other pace player — for second.

$20 to win on #2 Clearly Smashing
$5 exacta: 2 with 4
Total: $25

Fort Erie, Race 10: Prince of Wales S. (1 3/16 miles, 5:35 p.m. ET)

Could handicapping the second leg of the Canadian Triple Crown be as simple as betting the only horse who has ever won (or even run) on dirt?

In a field packed primarily with turf and Tapeta runners, #3 Curlin’s Catch (9-2) offers appeal.

The daughter of Curlin showed promising dirt form during the winter in Florida, where she broke her maiden in a gate-to-wire performance at Gulfstream Park, then dominated the Suncoast S. by 4 1/2 lengths.

Curlin’s Catch enters the Prince of Wales off a troubled, fifth-place finish in the Woodbine Oaks on Tapeta. She has trained sharply since and figures to fire a sharper effort on her return to dirt. Jockey Patrick Husbands (a 43% winner when he teams with trainer Mark Casse) will take over the mount.

To capitalize on the Midweek Bet Back promotion, we’ll place a $10 win bet on Curlin’s Catch, then play her over #8 Keep Grinding (3-1) in the exacta.

$10 to win on #3 Curlin’s Catch
$5 exacta: 3 with 8
Total: $15

Assiniboia Downs, Race 3: $5,000 maiden claiming (5 1/2 furlongs, 9:35 p.m. ET)

Half a dozen fillies and mares have been entered in this claiming sprint, but only one has displayed a semblance of pacesetting potential in recent starts — #1 Zenhi (8-5).

Zenhi has shown promise and tactical speed across her first five starts at Assiniboia. She has already placed twice at the $5,000 claiming level and employed tracking tactics to finish third Aug. 10 and second Aug. 24. While Zenhi disappointed in another $5,000 claimer Sept. 1,  Tuesday’s paceless field should set the stage for a rebound.

#3 Really Lucky (4-1) can round out the exacta, but our primary play will be a large win bet on Zenhi, to take advantage of the Build Your Assiniboia Closing Day Bankroll promotion.

$20 to win on #1 Zenhi
$5 exacta: 1 with 3
Total: $25

Carryover watch

Canterbury Park, Race 4: $5,333 Pick 6 carryover (7:40 p.m. ET)

One of the best non-jackpot carryovers to play Tuesday is in the Pick 6 at Canterbury Park. The $1 wager features a 10% takeout rate, so it is definitely a value-oriented betting proposition.

But a winning ticket won’t be easy to assemble. The six-race sequence contains 60 entries (10 per field) before scratches, which equates to 870,912 possible outcomes. And the smallest fields contain eight entries, so there aren’t any five-horse “freebie” legs, where it’s easy to find a trustworthy single.

That’s a problem, because it’s hard to play a $1 Pick 6 without a single or two. Betting just two horses in every leg costs $64. Use three horses in a couple legs, and the cost jumps all the way to $144.

So in an effort to keep costs reasonable, here are two horses to single in Canterbury’s Pick 6.

Race 5: #5 Slime Queen (3-1)

Slime Queen hasn’t missed the exacta in her last six starts running long on turf, which stamps her as a logical favorite in this one-mile turf test for fillies and mares.

Slime Queen has faced challenging pace scenarios in recent starts, against tougher competition on the Illinois circuit. On July 31, she came within a length of winning a $20,000 optional-claiming allowance and attempted to close ground into pedestrian fractions of :26.55, :51.32, and 1:15.98.

A daughter of Breeders’ Cup Mile (G1) winner Karakontie, Slime Queen brings strong Brisnet Speed ratings and looms as the filly to beat for Canterbury’s leading trainer, McLean Robertson.

If she gets a fair pace to work with on the drop in class, she can win for fun.

Race 9: #2 Princess Renee (7-2)

Who’s the fastest entrant in this one-mile dirt claimer for fillies and mares?

That would be Princess Renee, who posted a sharp 82 Brisnet Speed rating when she rallied to victory in a maiden special weight at this track and distance last month. None of her seven rivals have earned a figure higher than 75.

Princess Renee has been in hot form this summer and has cracked the trifecta in three straight starts. Her maiden win came in her first dirt route since 2019, so it’s possible the daughter of Declaration of War still has upside for trainer Tim Padilla.

In a challenging sequence, Princess Renee seems like as logical a choice as any to single.

Good luck!