Keeler Johnson's picks and plays for Sept. 21

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September 21st, 2021

Handicapper J. Keeler Johnson shares picks and plays for Tuesday, Sept. 21 at Thistledown and Presque Isle Downs, along with suggested singles for Indiana Grand’s $25,145 Pick 5 carryover.

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 Presque Isle Downs.

Picks and plays

Thistledown, Race 4: Maiden special weight (six furlongs, 2:20 p.m. ET)

#1 Gooseisontheloose (2-1) might be winless in 11 starts, but the dark bay three-year-old looks like a standout in this sprint for fillies and mares.

She enters off three straight runner-up efforts (including one against males) and towers over her Tuesday rivals from a Brisnet Speed rating perspective.

Gooseisontheloose owns the five highest Brisnet Speed ratings in the field. Throw in the fact she has an abundance of tactical speed, and Gooseisontheloose looks tough to beat under hot jockey Jose Bracho.

#2 J J’s Fancy (5-1) can round out the exacta on the cut back in distance, off a couple one-mile events.

$25 to win on #1 Gooseisontheloose
$5 exacta: 1 with 2
Total: $30

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

This isn’t the toughest field of Ohio-bred fillies and mares you’ll ever see. None have ever earned a Brisnet Speed rating better than 60.

So we’ll take a shot with #1 Lola Louise (4-1), who is technically the fastest runner in the field.

Lola Louise failed to finish within 13 lengths of victory in her first eight starts against maiden special weight company, but the daughter of Mobil took a big step forward when she dropped in class and adding blinkers for a $7,500 maiden claimer July 27. After a duel for the lead, Lola Louise dug deep to cross the wire a neck in front but was disqualified to second place for interference.

Lola Louise will keep her blinkers and return to maiden special weight company, and since there’s hardly any speed in Tuesday’s field, she figures to receive a perfect trip.

We’ll bet Lola Louise to win and play her over the consistent favorite #5 Welloiledcat (2-1) in the exacta.

$25 to win on #1 Lola Louise
$5 exacta: 1 with 5
Total: $30

Presque Isle Downs, Race 2: $5,000 claiming (5 1/2 furlongs, 5:10 p.m. ET)

#6 Congrats Smoke (6-2) has faced tougher company than she’ll encounter Tuesday, and most recently finished sixth in a $32,000 optional-claiming allowance sprint at Presque Isle. On that occasion, Congrats Smoke chased hot fractions of :22.18 and :44.62 and understandably weakened in her first sprint start since February.

That effort produced a career-best 73 Brisnet Speed rating, and I’m optimistic Congrats Smoke can run even better with a drop down the class ladder Tuesday. To take advantage of the Midweek Bet Back promotion, we’ll place a $10 win bet on Congrats Smoke, then bet her over fellow class dropper #5 Hard Target (8-5) in the exacta.

$10 to win on #6 Congrats Smoke
$5 exacta: 6 with 5
Total: $15

Carryover watch

Indiana Grand, Race 4: $25,145 Pick 5 carryover (3:58 p.m. ET)

An exciting day of racing awaits at Indiana Grand! Race 4 kicks off a 50-cent Pick 5, which features a 11.99% takeout rate and an enticing carryover, You’ll be hard-pressed to find a more value-oriented betting opportunity anywhere across Tuesday’s U.S. racing slate.

If you’re keen to pursue the carryover on a modest budget, you’ll be happy to hear the sequence appears manageable, with a couple logical singles.

These are the horses we would consider singling in Indiana Grand’s Pick 5.

Best single, Race 6: #2 Never Have I Ever (6-5)

Never Have I Ever, whose 8-2-1 record from 18 starts on grass is dotted with strong efforts at five furlongs. The son of Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint (G1) runner-up No Nay Never wired a $50,000 optional-claiming allowance sprint over the Arlington Park turf course Sept. 4.

With a bevy of competitive Brisnet Speed ratings, Never Have I Ever looks tough to beat for high-percentage trainer Brittany Vanden Berg, a 34% winner this year.

Pacesetters win 45% of five-furlong turf sprints at Indiana Grand, so if Never Have I Ever secures the early advantage, he may be impossible to catch.

Second-best single, Race 7: #7 Humble Warrior (6-5)

Surely, the third time will be the charm for Humble Warrior. The two-year-old son of juvenile graded stakes winner Mohaymen finished third in his debut, a five-furlong sprint at Indiana Grand, then stretched out over a mile and fell just a half-length short of victory.

The latter effort was especially nice, since Humble Warrior rallied from last to lead at the eighth pole, then flattened late and still earned with a 63 Brisnet Speed rating.

If he times his rally a bit better Tuesday, he can win for fun at a short price, with #1 Shineonbrad (9-2) perhaps the only rival with a serious upset chance.

Good luck!