Keeler Johnson's picks and plays of May 17

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May 17th, 2023

Handicapper J. Keeler Johnson shares picks and plays for Wednesday, May 17 at Horseshoe Indianapolis, along with horses to single in the $3,158 Pick 5 carryover at Presque Isle Downs.

Today’s special offers from TwinSpires include:

  • Caesars Day $5,000 Late Pick 5: Hit the Late Pick 5 at Horseshoe Indianapolis to split an additional $5,000 jackpot.

Picks and Plays

Horseshoe Indianapolis: Race 7: Horseshoe Indianapolis H. (one mile on turf, 5:36 p.m. ET)

#1 Mrs. Astor (7-2) brings promising form to her stakes debut. The Jonathan Thomas trainee rallied from midfield to win a 1 1/16-mile maiden special weight at Gulfstream Park, then unleashed another strong rally to finish second by half a length in a 1 1/8-mile Keeneland allowance.

Mrs. Astor may find the competition a bit easier at Horseshoe Indianapolis, even while ascending into the stakes ranks. Thomas has gone 2-for-4 (50%) at Horseshoe Indianapolis this meet, and four-time Eclipse Award-winning jockey Irad Ortiz is named to ride, so we’ll bet Mrs. Astor to win and single her to start double and Pick 3 wagers.


  • #1 Mrs. Astor (7-2)
  • #2 Capella (5-2)
  • #3 Work of Fiction (4-1)


  • $15 to win on #1 Mrs. Astor
  • $5 Double: 1 with 1,5 ($10)
  • $2.50 Pick 3: 1 with 1,5 with 8 ($5)
    Total: $30

Horseshoe Indianapolis: Race 8: Caesars H. (one mile on turf, 6:07 p.m. ET)

#5 Dude N Colorado (9-5) is a logical favorite under Irad Ortiz. While he faded to finish eighth in Keeneland’s Transylvania (G3) last time out, the speedy colt previously won the one-mile Colonel Liam S. at Gulfstream Park over future American Turf (G2) winner Webslinger.

But #1 Wadsworth (7-2) may have upset potential. The Brad Cox trainee has shown promise on synthetic and has the pedigree to handle turf; dam Dickinson counted Keeneland’s Jenny Wiley (G1) among her three graded grass wins.

Let’s box Dude N Colorado and Wadsworth in the exacta and use them both in our double and Pick 3 wagers:


  • #5 Dude N Colorado (9-5)
  • #1 Wadsworth (7-2)
  • #7 Worthington (10-1)


  • $10 Exacta: box 1,5 ($20)

Horseshoe Indianapolis: Race 9: Swifty Sired Fillies H. (5 1/2 furlongs, 6:38 p.m. ET)

In terms of Brisnet Speed ratings, #8 Imagine the Moon (7-2) is the fastest filly in this field, having posted an 81 when nabbing the six-furlong Indiana Stallion S. over this track last fall. None of her rivals have posted a number higher than 77.

Imagine the Moon hasn’t run since, but trainer Antonio Duran wins at a respectable 14% rate with horses returning from layoffs of 90 days or more, and a bullet three-furlong workout last Friday suggests Imagine the Moon is ready to fire a strong shot. We’ll bet her to win and single her to conclude our double and Pick 3 wagers.


  • #8 Imagine the Moon (7-2)
  • #2 Tizzy Jojo (9-2)
  • #10 Brittanysgldnfaith (5-2)


  • $20 to win on #8 Imagine the Moon

Carryover Watch

Presque Isle Downs: Race 4: $3,158 Pick 5 carryover (4:21 p.m. ET)

The third day of the 2023 race meet at Presque Isle Downs brings a $3,158 carryover in the 50-cent Late Pick 5.

We’ve analyzed the entries and identified a pair of singles worth building tickets around:

Race 4: $8,500 Claiming (one mile on Tapeta): #5 Merino Wool (8-5)

Merino Wool boasts a 9-5-1-1 record over the Presque Isle Tapeta, including three straight victories to wrap up 2022. After overcoming slow paces to win a pair of $5,000 claimers, Merino Wool stepped up to the $8,500 level and caught a quicker pace, which allowed him to charge home from 3 1/2 lengths behind and dominate by 5 1/4 lengths.

The latter victory produced an 83 Brisnet Speed rating, a career-best number for Merino Wool. He’s been freshened by trainer Eduardo Rojas (a solid 18% winner with horses returning from layoffs of 90 days or more) and enters off an encouraging series of workouts, so Merino Wool is a logical single to start the Pick 5.

Race 5: Allowance (5 1/2 furlongs on Tapeta): #3 Legend of Charlie (9-5)

Only six horses will face the starter in this allowance for Pennsylvania-breds, and the three-year-old gelding Legend of Charlie is a logical choice. A gate-to-wire debut winner sprinting five furlongs over this track last summer, Legend of Charlie later finished second in a $62,500 allowance optional claimer, fourth in the Fitz Dixon Jr. Memorial Juvenile S., and second in the Mark McDermott S. at Presque Isle.

Legend of Charlie’s 2022 finale yielded a career-best 75 Brisnet Speed rating. The only horse in Wednesday’s field who has run faster over a synthetic track is #4 Brumba Waffle Toes (2-1), but his best synthetic number—an 80—came racing one mile and 70 yards. Brumba Waffle Toes hasn’t been as effective sprinting; in fact, he finished behind Legend of Charlie in a pair of sprints last year.

There are a few other appealing angles in Legend of Charlie’s favor. He enters off a bullet five-furlong workout at Presque Isle Downs and is trained by Tim Girten, who has gone 2-for-3 (67%) to start the meet. Throw in hot jockey Scott Spieth (2-for-9, 22% to start the meet), and Legend of Charlie looms as a logical single.

Good luck!