Keeler Johnson's picks and plays July 14

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July 14th, 2022

Handicapper J. Keeler Johnson shares picks and plays for Thursday, July 14 at Delaware Park, Presque Isle Downs, and Saratoga.

Picks and Plays

Presque Isle Downs: Race 1: Maiden Special Weight (five furlongs on Tapeta, 1:30 p.m. ET)

Trainer Timothy Hamm has been on fire saddling juveniles at Presque Isle this year, going 7-4-2-1 so far. That includes a perfect 2-for-2 record with experienced juveniles, which points toward #5 Camino de Santiago (7-5) as a key win threat on Thursday.

Camino de Santiago ran second in his June 14 debut at Presque Isle, beaten only 1 1/4 lengths by stablemate Mikey Bananas. The performance was flattered when the third-place finisher returned to win his next start.

Camino de Santiago will be ridden by Presque Isle’s leading jockey Pablo Morales, who has won at a 48% rate teaming up with Hamm over the last two months. We’ll count on Camino de Santiago to deliver victory over his unraced stablemate #6 Swelter (6-1) and the fast-working #1 Dawgmentality (8-1).

  • $15 Exacta: 5 with 1,6 ($30)

Saratoga: Race 2: Maiden Special Weight (5 1/2 furlongs, 1:39 p.m. ET)

Trainer Todd Pletcher has long excelled at saddling ready-to-win juveniles at Saratoga. Last year, Pletcher compiled a lofty 6-for-21 (29%) record debuting two-year-olds in dirt sprints, which bodes well for the chances of #6 Chocolate Gelato (7-5) in the first juvenile race of the 2022 meet.

Chocolate Gelato is a daughter of Practical Joke, who won the Hopeful S. (G1) at Saratoga as a juvenile. Practical Joke sires a rock-solid 19% winners from first-time starters, and Chocolate Gelato showed some promise when breezing a quick five furlongs in 1:00 4/5 at Saratoga last week. Under three-time Eclipse Award-winning jockey Irad Ortiz, Chocolate Gelato looks ready to win on debut.

#1 Half a Chance (9-5) and #4 Thirty Thou Kelvin (6-1) can battle for exacta and trifecta honors.

  • $10 Exacta: 6 with 1,4 ($20)
  • $5 Trifecta: 6 with 1,4 with 1,4 ($10)
    Total: $30

Delaware Park: Race 5: Maiden Special Weight (five furlongs on turf, 2:30 p.m. ET)

#10 Jack a Rose (5-2) has placed in his first two starts against maiden special weight company over the Delaware Park main track, earning strong Brisnet Speed ratings of 85 and 87. He has the pedigree to handle turf, and dropping blinkers could be a positive since trainer Michael Stidham wins at a 23% rate with horses removing blinkers.

A win bet on Jack a Rose will be our first order of business, followed by an exacta using the first-time starters #8 Alexis S (10-1) and #9 Empire Sky (6-1) for second place.

  • $25 to win on #10 Jack a Rose
  • $5 Exacta box: 10 with 8,9 ($10)
    Total: $35

Good luck!