Keeler Johnson's picks and plays July 28

Profile Picture: J. Keeler Johnson

July 28th, 2022

Handicapper J. Keeler Johnson shares picks and plays for Thursday, July 28 at Del Mar, Saratoga, and Presque Isle Downs, including a ticket for Del Mar’s $21,056 Super High 5 carryover.

Today’s special offers from TwinSpires include:

  • Saratoga Bet Back: Receive refunds on win bets (up to $10) if your horse finishes second in select races at Saratoga.
  • $1,000 Hoosier Park Pick 4 Hit It and Split It: Hit the early Pick 4 at Hoosier Park on any Thursday from July 14 through Sept. 15 to win your share of a $1,000 weekly jackpot.
  • Rest of the World Bet Back: Receive refunds on win bets (up to $10) if your horse finishes second in eligible races at Goodwood (England).

Picks and Plays

Presque Isle Downs: Race 3: Maiden Special Weight (one mile on Tapeta, 2:24 p.m. ET)

#3 Swelter (5-2) may have finished last in his debut sprinting five furlongs at Presque Isle, but he was only beaten 5 3/4 lengths over a distance possibly shorter than his best. As a son of two-time Breeders’ Cup Classic (G1) winner Tiznow out of a mare by Preakness S. (G1) winner Bernardini, Swelter is bred to thrive while stretching out over one mile.

Throw in the fact hot trainer Timothy Hamm (a 35% winner this meet) strikes at a solid 18% rate with horses running long for the first time, and Swelter is a logical choice to visit the winner’s circle.

  • $20 to win on #3 Swelter
  • $5 Exacta: 3 with 2,6 ($10)
    Total: $30

Saratoga: Race 5: Birdstone S. (1 3/4 miles, 3:21 p.m. ET)

#2 Lone Rock (6-5) suffered a surprising defeat when beaten to third place in the 1 1/2-mile Brooklyn S. (G2) at Belmont Park last month, but overall his form remains strong. Two starts back, he trounced the 1 1/2-mile Isaac Murphy Marathon S. at Churchill Downs by 7 1/2 lengths.

Lone Rock dominated the 2021 Birdstone by four lengths and isn’t facing much speed in the 2022 renewal, setting the stage for a gate-to-wire victory over Brooklyn winner #1 Fearless (4-5) and the class-jumping longshot #3 Original Intent (12-1), who won a 1 3/4-mile starter allowance at Oaklawn Park during the spring.

  • $25 Exacta: 2 with 1
  • $5 Trifecta: 2 with 1 with 3
    Total: $30

Del Mar: Race 7: Fleet Treat S. (seven furlongs, 8:00 p.m. ET)

#4 Connie Swingle (8-5) has been competing on turf as of late, dominating a pair of allowance sprints over the Santa Anita lawn. But as a juvenile, Connie Swingle went 2-for-2 over the Del Mar main track, breaking her maiden by 7 1/2 lengths before trouncing the Generous Portion S. by 3 1/4 lengths.

Returning to Del Mar should suit Connie Swingle just fine, and she even breezed a quick five furlongs in 1:00 over this track last week. Recent debut winner #5 Fun to Dream (5-2) and California Cup Oaks winner #1 Rose Dawson (6-1) can battle for the minor awards, but we’ll key Connie Swingle on top of our tickets.

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

Carryover Watch

Del Mar, Race 8: $21,056 Super High 5 carryover (8:30 p.m. ET)

Racing resumes at Del Mar on Thursday with a sizable carryover awaiting bettors in the final race of the day.

The finale is Race 8, a maiden special weight for California-breds racing one mile on turf. The prize pool is a $21,056 carryover in the 50-cent Super High 5, and winning a share won’t be easy. An overflow field has been entered, and we could be looking at as many as 95,040 possible outcomes to consider.

The morning line favorite is #10 Oubabe (9-5), who set the pace when finishing second by a nose in a 1 1/8-mile event over this class level at Santa Anita two months ago. Oubabe brings a bevy of competitive Brisnet Speed ratings to the fold, but here’s the problem—he’s finished second in five of his seven starts and has been beaten by less than one length on four occasions. Oubabe is clearly talented, but he hasn’t shown the will to win yet.

Somewhat of the same can be said of second choice #9 Queen’s Code (5-2), who has finished second by a nose and half a length in his two starts this season. But Queen’s Code has yet to run farther than 6 1/2 furlongs, so he’s eligible to move forward while stretching out in distance for trainer Carla Gaines, who wins at a 19% rate with horses running long for the first time.

One longshot worth considering is #5 Erebus (15-1). His form has slipped in his last few starts against older horses, but during the winter he ran second in a pair of one-mile maiden special weights for California-bred three-year-olds at Santa Anita, earning competitive Brisnet Speed ratings. Erebus has been freshened since April and has trained forwardly for his return, suggesting he can bounce back at Del Mar.

Let’s take a shot keying Queen’s Code over Oubabe for the first two slots of the Super High 5. By taking this bold (and somewhat risky) strategy, we can afford to spread a bit deeper underneath:

  • 50-cent Super High 5: 9 with 10 with 4,5,7,8,13 with 4,5,7,8,13 with 1,4,5,7,8,12,13 ($50)

Good luck!