Keeler Johnson's picks and plays for Sept. 28

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September 28th, 2021

Handicapper J. Keeler Johnson shares $75 worth of picks and plays for the opening races on Tuesday, Sept. 28 at Thistledown, Indiana Grand, and Presque Isle Downs.

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 1: $7,500 claiming (five furlongs, 12:50 p.m. ET)

Did you know 65% of five-furlong sprints at Thistledown are won in gate-to-wire fashion? This bodes well for the chances of #5 Cue the Band (5-2), who has thrown down a series of sharp Brisnet E1 and E2 Pace ratings in recent starts.

While not a pure frontrunner, Cue the Band showed excellent speed in a $12,500 claiming sprint at Thistledown earlier this month. After she dueled for the lead through a :22.66 opening quarter-mile, Cue the Band opened up a clear lead through a half-mile in :46.82, only to weaken slightly in the final furlong and finish second by a length.

The drop down in class and distance should help Cue the Band deliver a victory for trainer Valerie Shanyfelt, a 27% winner this meet.

Throw in the fact Cue the Band will carry just 115 pounds — eight fewer than key rival #6 Easter Pride (3-1) — and we should have a recipe for victory.

We’ll bet Cue the Band to win and play her over Easter Pride in a cold exacta.

$20 to win on #5 Cue the Band
$10 exacta: 5 with 6
Total: $30

Indiana Grand, Race 1: Maiden special weight (one mile, 2:25 p.m. ET)

#4 Luni Sima (4-5) looks like a logical favorite and has shipped in from Saratoga, where he finished third in a 1 1/8-mile maiden special weight Aug. 26.

The stoutly bred son of Keen Ice earned a field-best 75 Brisnet Speed rating and will add blinkers and Lasix on Tuesday, which sets the stage for an improved performance.

But #2 Frosty Dreams (7-2) may have upset potential.

The son of Frosted boasts tactical speed, has already placed in a pair of one-mile maiden special weights at Indiana Grand, and most recently finished second, with a 72 Brisnet Speed rating.

The battle between Luni Sima and Frosty Dreams could wind up being closer than expected, so we’ll take a chance with Frosty Dreams on top of our tickets.

$15 to win on #2 Frosty Dreams
$5 exacta: 2 with 4
Total: $20

Presque Isle Downs, Race 1: $15,000 maiden claiming (six furlongs on Tapeta, 4:45 p.m. ET)

#3 Runaway Star (9-5) has shown excellent tactical speed in her first three starts at Presque Isle Downs and has employed pressing or tracking tactics to finish second or third in a trio of maiden special weights for Pennsylvania-breds.

Along the way, she has earned Brisnet Speed ratings of 66, 68, and 68.

The drop into the maiden claiming ranks might be all Runaway Star needs to secure a breakthrough victory. The four-year-old gelding is the fastest runner on paper and should get a perfect trip under veteran jockey Mario Pino.

To take advantage of the Midweek Bet Back offer, we’ll place a $10 win bet on Runaway Star, then key him over #2 Ettaplace (3-1) and #4 Magicstick (5-2) in the exacta and trifecta.

$10 to win on #3 Runaway Star
$5 exacta: 3 with 2,4 ($10)
$2.50 trifecta: 3 with 2,4 with 2,4 ($5)
Total: $25

Good luck!