Keeler Johnson's picks and plays Sept. 15

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September 15th, 2022

Handicapper J. Keeler Johnson shares picks and plays for Thursday, Sept. 15 at Churchill Downs and Belmont at the Big A, along with horses to single in the $4,206 Pick 5 carryover at Penn National.

Today’s special offers from TwinSpires include:

  • Churchill Downs Bet Back: Receive refunds on win bets (up to $10) if your horse finishes second in select races at Churchill Downs.
  • $3,000 Los Alamitos Leaderboard: Place $10+ win bets at Los Alamitos to climb a weekly leaderboard and earn your share of a $3,000 jackpot.
  • $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.

Picks and Plays

Belmont at the Big A: Race 1: William Entenmann Novice S. (2 3/8 miles on turf, 1:00 p.m. ET)

#1 The Mean Queen (1-2) was a beast over fences last year, rattling off consecutive victories in the Jonathan Sheppard H. (G1), Lonesome Glory H. (G1), and Grand National Hurdle S. (G1) on her way to being voted champion steeplechaser at the Eclipse Awards.

If The Mean Queen brings her A-game to her 2022 debut, her rivals are likely running for second place. We’ll bet The Mean Queen on top of a cold exacta using Saratoga’s Jonathan Kiser Novice S. winner #6 Howyabud (4-1) for second place.

  • $25 Exacta: 1 with 6

Belmont at the Big A: Race 2: Lonesome Glory H. (G1, 2 1/2 miles on turf, 1:32 p.m. ET)

#1 Snap Decision (2-5) ran second in this race last year, but he’s elevated his game to a new level in 2022. He dominated the Iroquois S. (G1) by 7 1/4 lengths during the spring, and just last month at Saratoga he trounced the Jonathan Sheppard H. (G1) by 13 1/4 lengths while toting top weight of 164 pounds.

Snap Decision has to carry 168 pounds in the Lonesome Glory, but a typical performance should be sufficient to win the day. #5 Ask Paddington (8-1), entering off four straight victories in the United Kingdom, can round out the exacta in his U.S. debut.

  • $25 Exacta: 1 with 5

Churchill Downs: Race 5: Maiden Special Weight (one mile, 6:56 p.m. ET)

#3 Frank’s Honor (10-1) showed some promise in his debut dashing six furlongs on Aug. 13 at Churchill Downs. The stoutly bred son of champion Honor Code broke slowly and settled off the early pace before rallying to finish third.

Frank’s Honor is bred to relish stretching out in distance, and juveniles trained by Kenny McPeek often improve second-time out. Throw in jockey Brian Hernandez (a 21% winner teaming up with McPeek over the last two months), and Frank’s Honor is worth betting on top at double-digit odds.

Logical favorites #5 Summonyourcourage (2-1) and #7 Track Mate (5-2) can battle to complete the exacta.

  • $15 to win on #3 Frank’s Honor
  • $5 Exacta: 3 with 5,7 ($10)
    Total: $25

Carryover Watch

Penn National, Race 4: $4,206 Pick 5 carryover (7:22 p.m. ET)

Thursday evening’s action at Penn National is highlighted by a $4,206 non-jackpot carryover in the $1 Pick 5.

Planning to play the sequence? We’ve identified a pair of possible singles to get you started:

Race 5: $25,000 Allowance Optional Claiming (six furlongs): #6 Golden Tabby (2-1)

As far as recent Brisnet Speed ratings are concerned, Golden Tabby is the runner to beat in this six-furlong dash for Pennsylvania-bred fillies and mares. Whereas none of her rivals have posted a Brisnet Speed rating higher than 84 in their past two starts, Golden Tabby threw down a 92 when wiring a seven-furlong allowance for Pennsylvania-breds on Aug. 22 at Parx Racing.

Golden Tabby won that allowance heat by four lengths, and her flashy Brisnet Speed rating wasn’t a fluke. During the spring, she ran second in the six-furlong New Start S. at Penn National, earning a 91 Brisnet Speed rating. If Golden Tabby brings her A-game while returning to Penn National, she can pick up a second straight win for hot trainer Kathleen Demasi, a 29% winner at Penn National this meet.

Race 7: $6,250 Claiming (one mile and 70 yards): #2 Cartwheel (9-5)

Cartwheel has been on a hot streak since being claimed by trainer Silvino Ramirez. Her first start for Ramirez came in a $5,000 claimer racing one mile and 70 yards at Parx Racing, in which Cartwheel led all the way to score by 4 1/2 lengths. Then in a $6,250 claimer racing one mile at Penn National on Aug. 24, Cartwheel led by daylight at every call to trounce her pursuers by 5 1/2 lengths.

These flashy victories produced Brisnet Speed ratings of 82 and 78, impressive numbers when you consider how none of Cartwheel’s rivals have posted a Brisnet Speed rating higher than 72 in their last two starts.

Cartwheel is facing a small field without much pace on paper, so she figures to receive a perfect frontrunning trip under jockey Yabriel Ramos, who has gone 3-for-8 (38%) at Penn National this meet. In short, what’s not to like? Cartwheel is a compelling favorite to take home top honors.

Good luck!