Keeler Johnson's picks and plays May 17

Profile Picture: J. Keeler Johnson

May 17th, 2022

Handicapper J. Keeler Johnson shares picks and plays for Tuesday, May 17 at Presque Isle Downs and Horseshoe Indianapolis, including a trio of exactas.

Today’s special offers from TwinSpires include:

  • Midweek Bet Back: Receive refunds on win bets (up to $10) if your horse finishes second in select races at Parx Racing.
  • Trifecta Tuesday: Receive a 15% bonus (up to $25 per day) on winning trifecta tickets.

Picks and Plays

Presque Isle Downs: Race 2: $5,000 Claiming (one mile and 70 yards on Tapeta, 1:57 p.m. ET)

#1 Cloontia (5-2) is a logical favorite after winning two of his four starts at Presque Isle last season, both against $5,000 claiming company. The nine-year-old gelding has the frontrunning speed to work out a perfect trip in this small and paceless field, but Cloontia hasn’t run since October, and trainer Eduardo Rojas wins at only a 5% rate with horses returning from long layoffs.

Perhaps we can beat Cloontia with #3 County Court (4-1). Conditioned by Ron Potts (a 23% winner at Presque Isle last year), County Court has been competing steadily at Tampa Bay Downs this winter and spring, even placing second in a couple of $5,000 claimers.

County Court ran well in his lone previous start on Tapeta, finishing fourth by less than one length in a $10,000 claimer at Gulfstream Park. County Court ought to handle Presque Isle’s Tapeta surface just fine, and the fact he has recent races under his belt may give him a fitness advantage over Cloontia.

We’ll play the race accordingly with a win bet, an exacta, and a trifecta. The latter bet is aimed at capitalizing on the Trifecta Tuesday promotion.

  • $20 to win on #3 County Court
  • $10 Exacta: 3 with 1
  • $5 Trifecta: 3 with 1 with 2
    Total: $35

Presque Isle Downs: Race 3: $30,000 Claiming (5 1/2 furlongs on Tapeta, 2:24 p.m. ET)

#3 Del Griffith (8-5) ran well enough in a couple of stakes on Tapeta last season. After finishing fourth in the seven-furlong Queenston S. at Woodbine, Del Griffith tackled the six-furlong Tom Ridge S. at Presque Isle, where he tracked a quick pace before weakening to finish sixth.

Dropping down in class should allow Del Griffith to start 2022 on a winning note for trainer Timothy Hamm, who went 35-for-104 (34%) at Presque Isle last year. The presence of 2021 leading jockey Pablo Morales (a 32% winner last meet) is another positive.

We’ll look for the consistent #2 Woodchuck (7-2) to complete the exacta.

  • $20 Exacta: 3 with 2

Horseshoe Indianapolis: Race 4: Allowance (one mile and 70 yards, 4:03 p.m. ET)

Trainer Brad Cox is off to an ultra-hot start at Horseshoe Indianapolis, going 11-5-3-2 (45%) to start the meet. He can keep his momentum rolling with #4 Cause to Cruise (4-1) in this allowance for three-year-olds.

Cause to Cruise hasn’t missed the exacta in three starts on dirt, including a couple of solid efforts at Fair Grounds this year. On Feb. 6, he ran second in a $30,000 starter optional claimer, earning a solid 84 Brisnet Speed rating. Then on March 23, Cause to Cruise ran second in a $50,000 starter allowance, beaten only a neck with an identical 84 Brisnet Speed rating.

Cause to Cruise fits well against Tuesday’s field and retains the services of hot jockey Marcelino Pedroza, who has gone 4-for-11 (36%) teaming up with Cox over the last two months. We’ll bet Cause to Cruise to win and key him over #2 Camp David (2-1) and #6 O P Firecracker (9-2) in the exacta.

  • $20 to win on #4 Cause to Cruise
  • $5 Exacta: 4 with 2,6 ($10)
    Total: $30

Good luck!